Team Australia eager for Portland challenge
Team Australia star Will Power will continue his battle with rival Sebastien Bourdais as the Champ Car World Series resumes with Round 4 at the Mazda Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland at Portland International Speedway in Oregon this weekend.
The Australian driver has set his sights on championship success after a stellar start to the season, winning the opening race of the season in Las Vegas and qualifying on the front row of the grid for all three races at the start of this season.
Power, who earned pole for the races in Las Vegas and Houston and started from second at Long Beach, currently sits second in the championship standings, only five points behind defending champ Bourdais.
After a six-week break between races, Power and the Aussie Vineyards-backed team are ready to reassert their presence on the opposition at the first permanent road course event of the season, a style of circuit that both Power and Team Australia see as their strongest discipline.
Power’s team-mate Simon Pagenaud has proved very impressive in the first part of the season, qualifying in the top seven at each of the three races.
Luck did not always fall the Frenchman’s way in the opening races, but the speed shown by Pagenaud has made him one of the favorites for this year’s Roshfrans Rookie of the Year title, a crown team-mate Power claimed last year.
The reigning Champ Car Atlantic champion sits 10th in the series standings, but it was his outstanding fifth place finish in the latest round at Houston that gave a better indication of his speed.
Power and Pagenaud have kept busy during the break, both attending Champ Car media tours, Power in Toronto, Canada and Pagenaud in Europe.
Pagenaud twice tested the #15 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01, once at the Mid-Ohio Sportscar Course and then joined Power in a two-day test with other Champ Car teams at the Mont Tremblant circuit in Quebec, Canada.
Team Australia’s drivers have also kept up their rigorous training and fitness regime, preferring to train alongside each other to push each other and continually raise their level of fitness.
Portland holds special significance for Team Australia and Power. It was the venue for Power’s first Champ Car test in late 2005 with Team Australia, ahead of his Champ Car debut at the Lexmark Indy 300.
It was at this test that Team Australia saw the skill and potential of the young man from Toowoomba, Queensland and this weekend, a year and a half later, Power looks to put the #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01 back on top of the Champ Car World Series standings.
WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY …
Will Power – #5 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01
“Well it’s finally time to get back to racing,” said Power.
“We’re going back to the first track I’ve ever tested on in the U.S. and in Champ Car, so I always look forward and enjoy going back to Portland.
“It’s been a nice break, we got some good testing in and now we are ready for the road course. Our goal for this race is to qualify up front and I believe we will be up there.
“I’m really looking forward to getting the new Aussie Vineyards DP01 out on the Portland circuit. It’s a lot of fun to drive on a road course and it’s good on the fast corners, it will be great around Portland and a good show for the spectators.”
Simon Pagenaud – #15 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia DP01
“We had a good batch of tests during our long break, so I feel very confident with the changes we have made and with getting back in the car,” said Pagenaud.
“Portland is such a nice track and event and I’m so happy to get back to a road course. It’s a good change of pace and at Portland we can use the car 100 percent.
“Our Aussie Vineyards car is great on the road course and the flowing, fast corners of the circuit will make it even more enjoyable to drive. I can’t wait to get back to racing and to show everyone what we’ve got in Portland.”
Derrick Walker – Team Australia Co-Owner
“During the break we have taken the opportunity to prepare for Portland and for the races that immediately follow,” said Walker.
“It’s an enjoyable track and one that I think our drivers and cars will be well suited for.
“The fans in the Portland area are very supportive of Champ Car and it’s always a good atmosphere at the event. We are looking forward to some good weather.”
Craig Gore – Team Australia Co-Owner
“Everyone involved in the Team Australia program is very excited about the season getting back underway at Portland this weekend,” said Gore.
“Will and the team did such a good job of showing what the team is capable of in the first three rounds. After a some promotional tours and testing in the six-week break between rounds, we can now get back to racing and trying to get back in front of Sebastien in the championship.
“Simon really showed his true potential at the last round in Houston and was right with Will at testing at Mont Tremblant. He is a tremendously talented driver and as the season progresses and he gains more Champ Car experience he will be right up there challenging for podiums.
“Derrick and the entire Aussie Vineyards team are refreshed and ready to go for Portland. Portland is the circuit where Will first tested a Team Australia Champ Car, so it would be something special if it was the place where he scored his first road course win in the series.”