Gommendy is 7th at Portlands Mazda Grand Prix

by : Kraig Johanssen

Tristan Gommendy, driver of PKV Racing, placed seventh at the recently held Mazda Grand Prix of Portland, while his teammate Neel Jani finished 12th. The race was presented by Joe's Sports and Outdoor at Portland International Raceway in Portland, Oregon.

Driving the #22 Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone car, Gommendy started the season as the fifth placer that marked a new record for the team at Portland. In most of the race, he was running in fifth place. But during the June 9 race, he got stuck behind slower traffic for many laps before he had his third stop. As a result, he had succeeding loss of track position that qualify both Alex Tagliani and Dan Clarke to over take him, thereby leaving Gommendy in the 7th finish.

Gommendy said that the biggest thing in the race was that he got behind Daiziel, Junqueira and Servia, who were slower, and that he had many lost time prior to his third pit stop. With regrets, he said that The Pay By Touch MegaSpirea PKV Racing team would have finished in the 5th place if those incidents did not happen. Nonetheless, he was optimistic that he had improved in driving which is a great help for the team. He added that they are continuing to work hard so that the cars would also improve and their all of their untiring efforts will be seen at the next race in Cleveland.

Though a champion car neophyte with a few experiences in the new DP01 and on champion car tracks, it is so fascinating that Gommendy continues to show improvement every time he is on the track. This Frenchman is now in the top-10 in two of his first four championship race car events: his debut in Las Vegas where he was 5th; and more recently in Portland where he placed 7th. He also finished 11th and 13th at Long Beach and Houston, respectively, where he was in a very tight competition while leading the race with three-time Series Champion Sebastien Bourdais before making late race stops for additional fuel. Qualified in the top-10 three times in his first four races, this 27-year-old resident of Paris, France placed ninth in Long Beach, eighth in Houston and a season high fifth just recently in Portland. Moreover, with 56 points, he is eighth in the championship race and third in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year race.

Driving the #21 Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone car, Jani started as the 10th placer. But he took advantage of the new standing start procedure of the Champ Car World Series so he jumped two places on the first lap. He, however, was not able to achieve the fuel mileage that the other drivers were getting. This forced him and his car to pit anywhere from two to five laps earlier than many of the other racers. As a result, he was sent back to the field. He was also not able to make up for his lost places due to the challenging 1.964-mile, 12-turn PIR permanent road course.

Jani said that he had to pit early on every task the Red Bull Gulfstream PKV Racing team. This was the reason why he went all the way back in the field and did not belong in the top 10. He commented that the track was really difficult for a driver to have over takes; so when he was behind other drivers, he was already stuck on his place. As for him, the main problem was his aim of pitting earlier than everyone else.

Jani, a 23-year old native of Jens, Switzerland, is also a champ car neophyte. He was among the top-10 racers in two of the four events this year: in Las Vegas where he placed 10th at the season opener; and in Long Beach where he finished 7th. Moreover, he was in the 16th place in Houston where he was running in the 4th spot when he was knocked out of the race. Furthermore, he has also qualified in the top-10 in three of the first four races this year. These include a team season at Houston where he was 4th, his debut in Las Vegas where he was ninth, and just recently in Portland where he was the 10th.

Jani's father who is from India has been a member of the Red Bull driver development program beginning in 2005. And in 2006, he was a test driver for the Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula One Team. In the championship standings, he is 11th with 43 points while in the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year standings, he is 6th.

The PKV Racing team has now qualified in the top-10 five times in nine attempts. It includes Gommendy's 5th place starting position this year making a new record for the team. Aside from that, it has also finished in the top-10 six times at PIR with one win by Cristiano da Matta in 2005.

On June 18 and 19, the team will have a test at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. Meanwhile, on June 22-24 will be the next race for the Grand Prix of Cleveland which will be held on the temporary airport circuit at Burke Lakefront Airport in Cleveland, Ohio. The Round #5 of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season of the Grand Prix of Cleveland will be televised live on CBS at 1:00 p.m. (ET).

The Mazda Grand Prix of Portland is part of Mazda Motor Corporation. Aside from manufacturing quality auto part such as , the company is also known in the world of auto racing where it is successful with two-rotor, three-rotor, and four-rotor cars. Private racers have also had considerable success with stock and modified Mazda cars with Wankel engines.

Mazda's competition in race started on October 20, 1968. This was when two Mazda Cosmo Sport 110S coupes entered the 84 hour ultra endurance race in Marathon de la Route at NÃ?rburgring. One car finished as the fourth placer and the other broke an axle after 81 hours.