Team Australia Champ Car star Will Power has scored his second-consecutive Lexmark Indy 300 pole position in final qualifying for Round 13 of the Champ Car World Series on the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia today.
Power gave his team co-owner and countryman Craig Gore the best possible ’get well’ present by beating the lap record for the Surfers Paradise street circuit that has stood for five years. Gore is at his Gold Coast home recovering from an inner ear operation earlier this week.
The previous lap record on the Gold Coast was a 1:30.204 set by Brazil’s Cristiano da Matta in 2002, eclipsed today by Power’s #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01, which scorched around the 4.47-kilometre circuit in a time of 1:30.054.
This effort is Power’s fourth pole position for the season, following on from poles in Las Vegas, Houston and Edmonton in Canada. Power scored his debut pole position at last year’s Lexmark Indy 300, making today’s pole his fifth career Champ Car pole.
Amazingly, Power smashed the time that earned him pole for last year’s race, with the Toowoomba driver’s new-for-2007 Team Australia DP01 Champ Car well quicker than the 1:31.403 that gave Power pole for last year’s event.
The 26-year-old was second fastest by the narrowest of margins in yesterday’s opening qualifying but put the rest of the Champ Car field on notice today, over six tenths of a second quicker than second-fastest driver Paul Tracy.
Power went to the top of the qualifying timesheets by beating Oriol Servia’s time from yesterday halfway through the 30-minute session on the set of softer ‘red’ Bridgestone tires that he also used in yesterday’s session.
With just under 10 minutes remaining in the session Power returned to the circuit on a brand new set of the ‘red’ tires. The proud Aussie soon brought his home crowd to its feet with a sensational lap that had his car using every millimeter of the demanding street circuit. Power later said that his four flying laps on the new tires were the hardest four laps of his career to date.
Efforts by Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais to topple the time in the dying stages of final qualifying, bringing a cheer from Power, who at the end of the session was already watching the timing screens with Team Australia co-owner Derrick Walker and the crew on the pit wall.
Soon after the post-qualifying press conference Power was on the phone to Gore, the two agreeing that today’s effort is the perfect lead-up to the ’real job’ in tomorrow’s race.
Power’s closest competitor today was Canada’s Paul Tracy who has returned to the top of the charts with his Forsythe Championship Racing team after struggling in the last few races. Tracy’s lap of 1 minute 30.426 seconds was quicker than Servia’s provisional pole time registered on Friday but the Forsythe veteran was still over a half second behind the Team Australia driver.
Because Servia was guaranteed a front row start as a result of wining the provisional pole on Friday, Tracy will be lined up on the second row with Bourdais, who came back from his mishap in qualifying yesterday to move up to fourth on the final grid. Justin Wilson was quick once again in qualifying but got nipped at the end by Bourdais and Tracy and was relegated to fifth on the grid.
A slightly down on power engine prevented Servia from keeping his provisional pole position from Friday.
Power’s team-mate Simon Pagenaud also performed admirably on the Gold Coast today, driving the #15 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01 to sixth fastest.
The effort made the Frenchman the fastest rookie and made Team Australia the only team that will have both its cars start tomorrow’s Lexmark Indy 300 from the first three rows on the grid.
There will be the traditional 30-minute Warm Up session beginning at 9:00 a.m. Australian EST (7:00 p.m., Saturday, ET USA). The cars will grid at 12:40 p.m. local time, with the Lexmark Indy 300 taking the green flag at 1:35 p.m. The race can be seen live in the United States on ESPN Classic with coverage from the Gold Coast, Australia beginning at 11:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, October 20. A tape-delayed broadcast can be seen on ESPN2 at 6:00 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 21.
Will Power #5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 1st) –
“Great job by the team today, but I’m not getting too excited because it’s a long race. I think the key to tomorrow is to get a good start. We have a really good race car which we practiced during our first session this morning. We practiced with full loads and everything, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow. Just have a good strategy and get it done. The last ten minutes were probably the hardest four laps I’ve ever done in my life. I pushed super hard because I knew we had the car to do it, just had to get the lap together. I was even on a quicker one in the last lap, but Dominguez blocked me. Qualifying is a very small part of the weekend. We’ve got to get the race right this time and win it.”
Oriol Servia #22 Pay by Touch / PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 2nd) –
“In the morning the car was great, even better than yesterday. The lap time came very easy. In qualifying, in my first run, I had some engine trouble. I had to change the ECU for the second run, and still was not running very well, but good enough. I had actually a good lap at the end and I just made a mistake in turn five that cost me the lap. I think Will had a tremendous lap going, and it was going to be tough to beat. We’ll see. I mean, I’m very happy with the car. As I said, starting front row, it’s great. It’s just great to be out there and just go for the win.”
Paul Tracy #3 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 3rd) –
“This is a very difficult track, and it takes having a trouble-free day. That’s pretty difficult to achieve around here because there always seems to be a lot of accidents. This track is very, very tough, very physical, very hard on a car. Small mistakes on a chicane section can turn into a catastrophe, as we saw with Sebastien yesterday. Just a little small mistake ends up being a huge mistake. Today was great. We’ve been working very hard for this all year to get back into the fold of being able to contend.”
Sebastien Bourdais #1 McDonald’s Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 4th) –
“The guys did a really good job fixing the McDonald’s car and we have a good balance but unfortunately we have a problem with traction that we haven’t quite figured out. We’ve never had the problem before so I am pretty happy that I could put in that last lap because it would have been pretty bad otherwise. It’s tough out there; we had the crash yesterday and had to build the confidence back up without taking stupid chances and making another sleepless night for the guys which is very easy around here. I’m trying to have some fun but it’s been a little difficult this weekend. We only won once here but we started from the front row every time before now so it looks like its pretty irrelevant so we’ll try something new. We’ll give it our best shot. The car balance is pretty good, we worked really hard on it for two days and we’re nearly where we wanted to be. We’ve just got to fix the traction issue and once we do that we’ll be in pretty good shape. After that, its one of those races where everything can happen so we’ll keep on plugging away. Our performance is not related to Justin from here on out, it’s just related to finishing. I’m pretty relaxed (about the title). Obviously all we want to do is make sure we don’t get into something bad. We’ll just work hard at trying to win the race.”
Justin Wilson #9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 5th) –
“Overall, I was really pleased with the car and my flying lap. But qualifying at Surfers is just as crazy as the race! Just like a race, so many things have to fall into place to be on the pole. You need a fast car, good tires and a clear track. Getting all those things to happen here at Surfers is incredibly difficult. I’m driving the best car I have ever had at this track, so I think the race tomorrow is going to be good.”
Simon Pagenaud #15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 6th) –
"Today was a much better today than it was yesterday. I feel like I tried really hard today and I gained time everywhere. It’s such a tough track, but my Aussie Vineyards car did really well and my #15 crew has been the best. We have been great at saving fuel and I think we can save good fuel during the race and jump on the podium. You can expect a good result from us and I’m quite happy with P6 and it’s great to be in front of all the rookies. I want to say hi to Craig and wish he could be here and want to let him know we wish him a quick recovery."
Bruno Junqueira #19 Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 7th) –
“Overall it was a good day for the #19 Sonny’s Bar-B-Q car. On the first set of reds I did a really good lap which put me third in the session. Then we did a change to the car and that made it a little hard to drive. I had a really good lap going until I made a mistake in the turn and that cost me a few tenths of a second. I think that we will have a good car for the race tomorrow and hopefully we can have another good finish like we did in Europe. I can’t believe that tomorrow will be my 100th start in the series. That is a lot of races. I have enjoyed my first 99 races in Champ Car and have put up some great results (33 podiums in 99 starts, 9 wins & 8 poles) in those races. I am happy to be in Champ Car this long and look forward to getting another 100 races in the series. This is a great series and it has some of the best drivers in it."
Neel Jani #21 Red Bull-Gulfstream Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 8th) –
“First set of reds, I struggled a little bit and was unable to get a good lap. I also had quite a bit of under steer. On the second set it was a little better, the car felt more stable, I had a lot more front grip, but still for my driving style I will need a little more compliance in the front, we also need to find out why I am loosing some top speed.
I need to attack the corners differently and that is where I struggle on this circuit quite a bit at the moment.”
Graham Rahal #2 Medi | Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 9th) –
“Qualifying was okay for the Medi | Zone team. It’s nice to be in the top-10 but at the same time it still eats away at me that I know absolutely that we should be in the top-five every single weekend. For some reason we can’t seem to get up there. This time it’s just disappointing because I messed up in Turn 12. It’s a tricky corner and I locked up the right front then the car didn’t want to turn. That ended up being my fastest lap but I know there was a couple more tenths in it. It’s just disappointing. The track is not too physical but the heat is tough. Over an hour and forty five minutes will be difficult for some of these guys but I think we should be okay. I feel good although I have had a little cold. I feel okay in the car; I just need to stay hydrated.”
Dan Clarke #4 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 10th) -
“It’s frustrating because we were doing great today. The car had too much grip on the last lap and I made a couple of mistakes. I know we have a good race car, however, and all the guys did a good job in spite of the gear box issues we’ve been having. We know we’ll be okay for tomorrow, and we’ll hopefully get a good result out of it.”
Alex Tagliani #8 PBS Equities Rocketsports Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 11th) –
“It was actually a pretty good day for us. We improved quite a bit. I think that we are still struggling a little bit with the overall balance and grip of the #8 Rocketsports car. It seems that we get to the limit pretty quickly because every time we try to push a little bit harder the rear steps out. It is rear locking, and basically the limit factor for us is to brake a little bit deeper and let the car roll at a higher speed into the corner. We made a big chunk of progress; we have a little bit more to make. Considering that we lost basically almost all day on Friday, I think we did alright today. We are definitely lacking a little bit on the grip side of the car for this particular track, but if we can make improvements and we can get a car that is reasonable, along with a good race strategy, I think that we can have a pretty good race and bring home a reasonable finish.”
Mario Dominguez #28 PCM Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 12th) –
“This result is not what we were expecting with the TECATE car after running fifth this morning and in the top-seven most of the weekend. I was not able to maximize the Bridgestone Red tires. I tried really hard, but I think our set-up was not optimal for the red tires. I am confident for our race tomorrow, I think if we have a good strategy and stay clear tomorrow; we can get the TECATE car back in the top-seven where we belong! With three podium finishes here in Australia in the last five years, this is my most successful track and I can think of nothing better than a repeat podium this year as we head into the final round at home in Mexico City.”
Nelson Philippe #34 Juniper Soul Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 13th) –
“I’m pretty disappointed with our results today. I obviously had higher expectations for today’s session. Possibly they were just a bit too high for what would actually happen. This is my first race in a while and I’m still learning my way around the car so there was a lot to achieve over the past two days. I usually have good results during races and have been previously known as more of a racer than a qualifier. It will be important for us to run a clean race tomorrow and if we can do that I believe that we can end up with a really strong result.”
Robert Doornbos #14 Team Minardi USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 14th) –
“This is a great place to race, and a fantastic circuit, but I’m sure it would be even more fun if we were at the front. We’ve been chasing the car these past two events and we’re definitely struggling here. We’re usually quick on street courses so I’m a bit confused. It will be a long afternoon tomorrow, but hopefully the end result will be good. This is a great place to race, and a fantastic circuit, but I’m sure it would be even more fun if we were at the front. We’ve been chasing the car these past two events and we’re definitely struggling here. We’re usually quick on street courses so I’m a bit confused. It will be a long afternoon tomorrow, but hopefully the end result will be good.”
Alex Figge #29 PCM Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 15th) –
“I think we’ve made a lot of progress with the Conrad Jupiters car today. One of the things that makes Champ Car challenging is the lack of practice time to develop these cars as we sort of ran out of time today. This is a tough track to learn and a tough track to set-up for but I love it and I love the challenge. We’re not far off the other rookies, but we’ve been battling quite a bit of under-steer. It’s tough to get the car turned and on down the road. I am looking forward to keeping my head down tomorrow and doing a good job. We’re going to need to keep a qualifying pace in the race in order to make up some ground on the track, otherwise we’ll just benefit from other’s mistakes and I’d like to work my way up the field in the Conrad Jupiters car.”
Katherine Legge #11 Dale Coyne Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 16th) –
“I think that I just tried too hard today in the qualifying session. It is kind of like in baseball when a batter comes up to the plate and tries to hit a home run and then isn’t able to do it because he is trying too hard. I was just trying too hard to hit that home run today when a triple would have been just as good. I was very quick in the 15 minute practice session before qualifying began. I took one turn a little fast and brought out the red flag. After that I had to play catch-up the rest of the session. I think that we have a good car and ;will do well in the race tomorrow. I will just have to drive my race and I think I will get a good result in the race tomorrow."
David Martinez #7 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 17th) –
“It’s definitely been a difficult weekend so far but we were expecting that. Everybody knows that this is the hardest track to come to as a rookie, especially for me since I’ve been out of a car for almost a year. I’ve managed to pick up speed every time I go out and I’ve been closing the gap but I still need more laps around this place and with this car. I’m happy because I haven’t made any mistakes and I know that that will pay off tomorrow during the race. I’m not starting where I wanted but it’s a long day tomorrow and I know that if I can keep my nose clean, drive consistent laps and save fuel we can achieve a good result. All in all I’m just enjoying being back in Champ Car and every single lap in this cars makes me better and I know that we will be quite strong for Mexico.”
||Forsythe Championship Racing
||Newman/ Haas/ Lanigan Racing
||Dale Coyne Racing
||Newman/ Haas/ Lanigan Racing
||Minardi Team USA
||Pacific Coast Motorsports
||Minardi Team USA
||Pacific Coast Motorsports
||Dale Coyne Racing
||Forsythe Championship Racing