Da Matta Serves Notice of Intent

After an unhappy one-and-a-half-year spell in Formula One with the Toyota team, Cristiano da Matta achieved a measure of redemption in Portland by winning his first Champ Car race since returning to the series at the beginning of this season

Da Matta Serves Notice of Intent

The 31-year-old's stellar drive chalked up another milestone by delivering the first win for the PKV Racing team owned by Kevin Kalkhoven, Dan Pettit and teammate Jimmy Vasser.

It also launched da Matta to fifth in the points standings, and may even herald the beginnings of a championship challenge from the 2002 title holder.

Unlike his win from pole at Portland in '02, he achieved this one the hard way, starting 10th and using a bold out-of-sequence pit strategy to leapfrog ahead of the competition. Once in front, he had the speed to make the strategy count.

"I've always liked this track," explained da Matta, relieved to discover he can still find victory circle.

"Since the start, all I was asking of the team was to get me in a clear gap. I knew when I was stuck in traffic there was not much I could have done.

"I knew that was the time [once in clear air] I had to just go and push as hard as I could. We weren't worrying at all about the fuel mileage. I didn't expect to be able to pull away that much. At a certain point, I had a 12-second lead which was more than I expected.

"We were starting 10th which is already borderline for the defensive strategy [the alternative ploy of pitting early]. We thought if we have a good start, we'll just play it normal. But my start wasn't very good at all because I dropped down to 13th.

"So it was an easy decision. I told the team on the radio, 'From here I'm not going to be make many positions. I'm just stuck. But I feel like I can go much faster.'"

Da Matta's achievement was especially praiseworthy given that he completed all three of his pit stops under green-flag conditions while the other drivers took advantage of the only caution period of the race to take on service.

Hard on the heels of Vasser securing PKV's first pole at Milwaukee, da Matta's Portland triumph signals that the third-year outfit are now really making progress up the Champ Car food chain.

Procuring the services of the Brazilian (in place of the backmarker Roberto Gonzales) filled in one big piece of the jigsaw. An equally important step was bringing veteran team manager Jim McGee on board as General Manager.

Even so, PKV determined that they were at a disadvantage at the start of the season. In particular, other teams were using a superior differential and shock package that resulted in less tyre wear. The parts have been on order for months and the team hope to be using them by Toronto.

"We're trying to catch up to the other guys, doing all the development programs that we weren't able to do in the off-season," explained da Matta. "We still have to make sure that we understand exactly how to be consistent everywhere we go.

"It's a bit too early to put pressures on ourselves to be on the podium all the time. We can at least have the dream to fight for the championship at the end of the season. [But] we still have a lot of work to do."

shares
comments
Champ Car to Honour Indy Tickets

Previous article

Champ Car to Honour Indy Tickets

Next article

A1 GP to Take Part in Goodwood

A1 GP to Take Part in Goodwood
Load comments

About this article

Series General
Author Mary Bignotti Mendez
The F1 and Indy 'nearly man' that found contentment in Japan Plus

The F1 and Indy 'nearly man' that found contentment in Japan

Having had the door to F1 slammed in his face and come within three laps of winning the Indianapolis 500, the collapse of a Peugeot LMP1 shot meant Japan was Bertrand Baguette's last chance of a career. But it's one which he has grasped with both hands

General
Feb 27, 2021
The female all-rounder who arrived "too early" Plus

The female all-rounder who arrived "too early"

From Formula 3 to truck racing, Dakar and EuroNASCAR via a winning stint in the DTM, there's not much Ellen Lohr hasn't seen in a stellar racing career that highlights the merit in being a generalist. But she believes her career came too early...

General
Feb 17, 2021
How Radical's latest machines fare on track Plus

How Radical's latest machines fare on track

The lightweight sportscar manufacturer has not rewritten the rulebook with its latest machines, but the new SR3 XX and SR10 still provide a step forward on its previous successful models

General
Feb 8, 2021
The real-life racing rogues stranger than fiction Plus

The real-life racing rogues stranger than fiction

The forthcoming Netflix film linking the world of underworld crime and motorsport plays on a theme that isn't exactly new. Over the years, several shady figures have attempted to make it in racing before their dubious dealings caught up with them

General
Jan 31, 2021
How a GP is thriving in a COVID-free territory Plus

How a GP is thriving in a COVID-free territory

The New Zealand Grand Prix's mix of rising talent and big-name stars thrilled the crowds (yes, remember crowds?) assembled for the Toyota Racing Series meeting at Hampton Downs last weekend and left distant observers craving a repeat

General
Jan 26, 2021
How a much-changed Macau GP kept the party going Plus

How a much-changed Macau GP kept the party going

OPINION: The 67th edition of the Macau Grand Prix might have been a largely muted affair to the outside world without its international influx and star line-ups, another victim to the COVID-19 pandemic, but organisers deserve huge credit for keeping the party going

General
Nov 24, 2020
Engineer's view: Motorsport's revolutionary braking tool Plus

Engineer's view: Motorsport's revolutionary braking tool

Although brake pressure and temperature logging is commonplace, measuring and understanding braking performance hasn't been so straightforward. But that's about to change following the introduction of a groundbreaking new sensor

General
Oct 1, 2020
The high-tech materials helping Renault in its F1 rise Plus

The high-tech materials helping Renault in its F1 rise

The Renault F1 team is at the vanguard of innovative solutions pushing development of the V6 turbo hybrid engine rules, embracing the full potential of material science in its bid to get back to the top

General
Sep 29, 2020