RuSPORT Turn Fortunes Around

The RuSPORT team made a silk purse out of a sow's ear in the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland, shrugging off a nightmare couple of days of practice and qualifying to land a pair of top-ten finishes, headlined by an excellent second place for AJ Allmendinger

RuSPORT Turn Fortunes Around

The Californian was only cleared to take part in the race on Sunday morning after burying his car in the Turn Eight tyre barrier in final qualifying and nursing a headache and a slightly bruised ego.

He rebounded in style today, using a combination of speed (he set the third fastest lap) and typically astute RuSPORT pit strategy to vault from ninth on the grid to the middle step of the podium.

"We struggled all weekend with the balance of the car, but the team got it right when it mattered most," said Allmendinger. "The driver made it hard on them by crashing the car...

"Everything just worked today. I knew it was going to be tough on the last restart when I had Paul [Tracy] behind me, knowing that I was going to have to pull a fair gap since he was going to pit later than I was.

"PT is the master of the restart and passed two cars straight away. That actually pissed me off - I was hoping I'd have a few more laps with traffic between us!

"I really had to keep pushing hard at the end because I wanted to close the gap to Paul and Oriol [Servia] was coming up fast behind me.

"After the weekend we've had, this second place feels really, really good."

And how did he bear up physically to the punishment meted out by 91 laps of the bumpy Cleveland track in draining heat and humidity?

"I was a bit sore and the problem actually was my stomach," he reported. "Since I crashed it's been kind of edgy with not feeling very well and not being able to put a lot of food in it.

"That was probably my main problem with 25 laps to go - trying not to lose my lunch in the car!"

Teammate Justin Wilson had an equally torrid time in the lead-up to the race, sitting out most of qualifying after damaging his car in an off-course excursion at Turn Four.

From 16th on the grid he was always likely to have a long afternoon's work, and in his eagerness to make up ground drove with uncharacteristic abandon, colliding with Mario Dominguez on lap 25 and bounding across the grass after an optimistic attempt to outbrake Andrew Ranger in the closing stages.

Through it all Wilson kept his head down and gradually moved up the leaderboard, finally dispatching Ranger on the very last lap to finish an improbable seventh.

"This was definitely a tough race, but I just kept battling," said the Briton. "I had a couple of incidents on the track, but the team did a great job and my engineer Todd [Malloy] kept us in the race.

"I got my lap back and then just focused on putting together fast and mistake-free laps. Everyone's effort paid off and we brought home our fourth top-ten finish and earned an extra Championship point for passing the most cars.

"All of that keeps us right there in the overall standings, so I'm pleased we finished the weekend on a better note."

The RuSPORT duo remain third and fourth in the points standings after Cleveland, but have swapped positions, with Allmendinger's second podium of the season nudging him seven points ahead.

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