Team Australia on top in Houston
Team Australia Champ Car driver Will Power has blitzed the field, including three-time series champion Sebastien Bourdais, on the final day of a two-day pre-season open test in Houston this morning.
Power, a native of Toowoomba in the Australian state of Queensland, set the fast time in the final two sessions of the test in his #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia Panoz DP01.
In a further positive outcome for the team, Power’s new teammate Simon Pagenaud was sixth fastest in the 15-car field. Earlier today Team Australia announced that Pagenaud, who won the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship for Team Australia, will partner Power in the Aussie Vineyards-backed team in the 2007 Champ Car World Series.
Team Australia co-owner Craig Gore was obviously delighted with the performance of his Australian-born talent, who was fastest in both the morning and afternoon sessions at the MSR Houston circuit.
Power’s best time in the afternoon session broke the Champ Car lap record at the MSR Houston circuit, the Australian resetting the mark at 1 minute 10.040 seconds.
The Aussie Vineyards cars were also among the few that did not use the Power-To-Pass button, which provides extra horsepower, during the two days of testing.
Team Australia also assisted Champ Car and gearbox supplier Hewland to help develop and refine the new paddle shift-operated gearbox that is a part of the new Panoz DP01 Champ Car. The Team Australia crew assisted Hewland to synchronize and develop the paddle shift software and the development from that work was then passed on to all of the teams for Monday’s test.
Power, Pagenaud and the Aussie Vineyards crew will have their final hit out of the preseason on March 9-10 at Laguna Seca in California.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY …
Will Power – #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia Panoz DP01
“The test went well today,” said Power.
“Team Australia did a great job and we got through all the things we wanted to. Our engineers gave us a great test plan and we got the most out of the Aussie Vineyards car. We got some good data to go forward and we will be ready for the next test.”
Simon Pagenaud – #15 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia Panoz DP01
“Today was OK for me,” said Pagenaud.
“I think I could have done better, but it was just my third time in the car, so it’s just a matter of getting mileage behind my belt. Team Australia gave me a great car and we found what we needed with the new car, so I’m excited for a good season with the team.”
Derrick Walker – Team Australia Co-Owner
“This was our first real test on a new car if you really think about it,” said Walker.
“We were plagued with some issues with the car in Sebring so we didn’t really get to show what we’ve got. For Houston we came extra prepared and had a new car for Simon.
“Since it rained the first day all of the team’s had a stack of tires, so it was like two hours of qualifying and everyone was going after it and so did we.
“Simon did a fantastic for his third time in the car, he just needs to get more laps in.
“Overall we have a great package. Simon and Will are a well suited and strong pair that works really good with each other. They both demonstrated great feedback and work well with the engineers. The team didn’t miss a beat and our one day excursion proved that we are ready for a great season.”
Craig Gore – Team Australia Co-Owner
“What a fantastic job in the brand new Panoz chassis,” said Gore.
“To be quickest in both sessions and be 0.3 of a second ahead of all the Champ Car regulars, including champion Bourdais, at the end of the day provides tremendous encouragement for everyone involved in this program.
“It certainly gives us more reason to be positive about what is going to be an exciting year for the Champ Car World Series.
“I hope Will celebrates with a nice glass of Aussie Vineyards product tonight.”