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What Happened at Laguna?

 
 

Champ Car(March 9, 2007) - Two drivers added and some lesser news.

ROCKETSPORTS AND TAGLIANI REUNITE

After successful runs together back in 2003 and 2004, Rocketsports Racing is proud to announce the return of Alex Tagliani to the team for the 2007 Champ Car World Series season with the hopes of picking up with where they left off – in victory lane.

Rocketsports driver Tagliani returns for his eighth season in the Champ Car World Series, behind the wheel of Rocketsports’ #8 Panoz DP01. A true Champ Car veteran, the 34-year-old driver began racing in the series back in 2000, when it was known as CART. He has made 117 starts, earning five poles and 14 podium finishes. His return to the team reflects the positive relationship that was established during his two-year run.

PKV Racing Signs Tristan Gommendy to Drive the #22 Car

Gommendy spent the 2006 season driving in GP2 and the World Series by Renault. The 27-year-old native of France started nine GP2 events for iSport International last year and four for Pons Racing in the World Series by Renault, earning one pole and one podium.

"We are very pleased to have Tristan join PKV Racing," said PKV Racing co-owner Jimmy Vasser. "Tristan is an experienced driver who has enjoyed success in European open wheel racing. I think he will be an excellent addition to our team."

A better addition may have been Oriol Servia or Bruno Junqueira, but those guys don't bring ~$2 Million with them.

CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES ENTERS PARTNERSHIP WITH MAZDA

Champ Car LogoChamp Car World Series entered an agreement with Mazda North American Operations that will see the famed manufacturer become The Official Vehicle of the Champ Car World Series for 2007. Mazda will be able to showcase its performance cars as part of the Champ Car Pace Car Program, and will have its trucks, SUVs and crossover vehicles featured as part of the world-renowned Holmatro Safety Team, Champ Car's fast-response safety squad.

There is still space for sale on the new logo.

HOLMATRO RESCUE TOOLS BECOMES THE TITLE SPONSOR OF CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES SAFETY TEAM

Long a key component of the Champ Car Safety Team, Holmatro Rescue Tools have taken the next step for 2007, becoming the title sponsor of what will now be known as the Holmatro Safety Team (nee Simple Green).

The Holmatro Safety Team is the longest-running and most-celebrated quick-response safety team in all of motorsports, providing at-track support at every Champ Car race since its 1984 inception. The program has expanded dramatically over the years in terms of staff, equipment and technology in an effort to provide Champ Car participants the finest and most adept care in sports. The staff of 40 professionals and specially equipped vehicles is unique to the sport, placing the Holmatro Safety Team at the forefront of motor racing safety.

Visa (FirstData) Ends Its Relationship With The Vegas and Phoenix GPs

No official press, but all the logos are off the websites. Call it a guess.

CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES PRESEASON TESTING ENDS WITH RECORD-SHATTERING PERFORMANCE BY SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS

Three-time and defending Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Cosworth/Panoz/Bridgestone) spent most of the 2007 preseason watching the young guys take turns at the top of the time charts, but he saved the best for last on a sunny Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Bourdais shattered the unofficial track record at the 2.238-mile road course in Monterey, California - which was much more of an accomplishment that it might seem given the fact that the track record had been set by a Toyota-powered Formula 1 car in 2006. The Flying Frenchman used his absolute final lap of the preseason to break the F1 record, stopping the clocks at 1:05.880 (122.295 mph), getting across the timing line just before a session-ending red flag flew.

"I knew where Bruno (Junqueira) was when the red came out and I knew I was past it, and I knew I was four- or five-tenths ahead of the record so I said 'screw it, I'm going for it'," Bourdais grinned. "We didn't particularly chase the record but we had our eye on it and I am happy that we were able to get it."

Bourdais was also given a check for $5,000 by the series for breaking the mark, as Champ Car posted an Old West-style bounty on the record, set by Ricardo Zonta a year ago.

Bourdais' time was the best of the two-day session and showed that he will once again be the man to beat when the engines fire for the year's first race, April 6-8 in Las Vegas. His best time gave him more than a half-second margin over second-placed Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/Panoz/Bridgestone) in today's final times.

Power led a bevy of rookies that continued their fierce pursuit of the top spot, with the Australian logging in with a top time of 1:06.424 (121.294 mph). The sophomore was followed by a trio of first-year pilots with Neel Jani (#21 Red Bull PKV Racing Cosworth/Panoz/Bridgestone) taking third ahead of Graham Rahal (#2 Newman/Haas/Lanigan Cosworth/Panoz/Bridgestone) and reigning Atlantic champion Simon Pagenaud (#15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/Panoz/Bridgestone).

Veteran Paul Tracy was sixth on the day with a top time of 1:06.707 (120.779 mph), wrapping up what the 2003 champion termed his team's 'best test of the year'.

"We had a good day yesterday and while we struggled a little today, we overall had a good weekend," quipped Tracy. "We were trying to learn some things today and threw a lot of changes at the car, but we never really got any good luck with red flags to see how the changes work."

In all 17 drivers turned laps over the two-day test session, with nine of them preparing for their first Champ Car seasons. One of those was former Indy Lights and Champ Car Atlantic driver Matt Halliday (#34 Conquest Racing Cosworth/Panoz/Bridgestone), who ended up in the top 10 in his first weekend with the Indianapolis-based team.

"This was a good two days for myself and the team and I am very pleased with how things went," Halliday said. "We had some issues but this team really just kept their heads down and worked hard, and we got through it. I am very happy with how it went and I think we can be even closer to the front with a little more time in the car."

Conquest Racing owner Eric Bachelart agreed.

"With this being his first time in the Champ Car, he really got up to speed right away," Bachelart said. "We had a few problems with the car and he really stayed focused and did a great job for us."

Today's testing, which culminated in an hour of standing-start practice, was the last for the Champ Cars for the 2007 preseason. The teams will now go back and make final preparations for the season-opening Vegas Grand Prix, which will be directly followed by the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach April; 13-15 and the Grand Prix of Houston April 20-22.

Saturday's session times follow (laps run figure is for the entire two-day test):

1) Sebastien Bourdais - #1 McDonald's/Newman/Haas Racing - 1:05.880/122.295/167 laps

2) Will Power - #5 Aussie Vineyards/Team Australia - 1:06.424/121.294/172 laps

3) Neel Jani - #21 Red Bull PKV Racing - 1:06.516/121.126/186 laps

4) Graham Rahal - #2 Newman/Haas Racing - 1:06.561/121.044/167 laps

5) Simon Pagenaud - #15 Aussie Vineyards/Team Australia - 1:06.699/120.793/171 laps

6) Paul Tracy - #3 Indeck/Forsythe Championship Racing - 1:06.707/120.779/136 laps

7) Justin Wilson - #9 CDW/RuSPORT - 1:06.755/120.692/57 laps (ran 96 laps in the 9x car)

8) Alex Tagliani - #8 Rocketsports Racing - 1:06.760/120.683/130 laps

9) Matt Halliday - #34 Conquest Racing - 1:06.930/120.377/135 laps

10) Robert Doornbos - #14 Minardi Team USA - 1:06.959/120.324/134 laps

11) Bruno Junqueira - #19 Dale Coyne Racing - 1:07.048/120.165/90 laps

12) Katherine Legge - #11 Dale Coyne Racing - 1:07.727/118.960/145 laps

13) Tristan Gommendy - #22 PKV Racing - 1:08.325/117.919/93 laps

14) Alex Figge - #29 Pacific Coast Motorsports - 1:08.521/117.581/143 laps

15) Ryan Dalziel - #28 Pacific Coast Motorsports - 1:08.825/117.062/135 laps

16) Andrew Ranger - #19 Dale Coyne Racing - 1:09.208/116.414/66 laps

17) Zsolt Baumgartner - #4 Minardi Team USA - 1:10.415/114.419/53 laps

 

 
 
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