Oval Boost for Rookies

Bjorn Wirdheim and Marcus Marshall achieved the best qualifying positions of their respective Champ Car rookie seasons in Las Vegas on Friday night. The Swedish HVM driver was fifth fastest, while Team Australia racer Marshall will start tenth

Oval Boost for Rookies

Both drivers have had difficult starts to their Champ Car careers. Wirdheim has not yet delivered the speed that many were expecting from the former Formula 3000 Champion and Formula 1 test driver, while the inexperienced Marshall has qualified on the back row for most races, until Las Vegas.

The sole superspeedway on the Champ Car World Series calendar clearly suits the two rookies.

"You really have to grit your teeth and go for it," said Marshall. "I thought I would enjoy it because I have been quick on the faster-flowing stuff this year. It's just the more technical bits which have caught me out.

"I have struggled in qualifying this year, so to be in the top ten is obviously pleasing. We just need to make sure we now convert it in the race. I am sure it is going to be a lot different deal with 17 other cars around me tomorrow."

"I am getting the hang of these ovals quickly and I do enjoy them," said Wirdheim. "So far my best two qualifying results have come on the two ovals and I am proud of those results considering I had never driven on an oval prior to coming to America this year."

Wirdheim and Marshall's teammates had contrasting fortunes. While Wirdheim's HVM partner Rodolfo Lavin qualified an excellent seventh despite losing most of practice to a gearbox failure, Marshall's team leader Alex Tagliani was back in 13th and perplexed by his car's lack of speed.

"We just have no pace," said Tagliani, who received a new engine for qualifying in a vain attempt to solve his problems. "We can change a few small things overnight, but I am not sure how much we can do.

"I am holding it flat the whole way and guys are pulling away from me and that's not a good feeling."

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