Wednesday, 20 October 2010 02:06
Rock Racing driver Alex Tagliani is keen to revisit the podium at the Surfers Paradise street circuit at this weekend’s Armor All Gold Coast 600, while this is only the third V8 Supercar start for Tagliani, he also has two podium finishes at Surfers Paradise, both in Champ Car, with third place in 2001 and 2004 and at his last start on the Gold Coast in the IndyCar event in 2008, Tagliani was fourth.
Alex Tagliani - #11 Rock Holden Commodore.
Q: You had the chance to visit the Kelly Racing facility for a seat fitting over the weekend. How does it compare to team workshops you have seen all around the world?
“I think it is very impressive to see how organised this team is,” said Alex Tagliani.
“Obviously we know about V8 Supercars because we have been racing with them for the last eight or nine years at least at Surfers.
“So to actually visit the race team and spend some time with everyone is quite nice. Just to have the opportunity to do it with two guys that are running their own team and are also drivers is very unique, because that's the position I was in this year with FAZZT.
“It's a humongous opportunity to be able to do it right with the right people and a strong team at Surfers, which is always a track where I've done really well and means a lot to me because obviously I met my wife here in 2001. So I'm very excited about the whole event.”
Q: You have raced a V8 Supercar before, so did all those memories flood back when you climbed aboard the Rock Commodore for a seat fitting?
“It felt different. It's going to be interesting to drive the car with the new sequential gearbox. I think it's going to make the adaptation a lot easier for open wheel guys.
“I'm sure that over the years the cars have changed. I'm sure that the technology always continues to improve and the teams are working really hard to make them better.
“I'm excited and looking forward to trying the car on Wednesday and from that point of view I'll see how much they have changed from what I remember since last time I was over here.”
Q: Last time you raced a V8 Supercar it was at two brand new tracks. But the Gold Coast is a track where you have done hundreds of laps. Does it help racing at a track you know well?
“I think it's still going to be difficult but it is not going to be as difficult to get used to the car with very limited track time and on top of that learning the tricks of the track.
“Knowing the track in Surfers puts all my focus on getting used to the car and pushing the car to its limit. You know the track, you know where the bumps are, you know the racing line and everything, so that's going to be the part that is going to be nice. When I drove in V8s last time I was just dropped in the middle of the race weekend learning the track, the car, everything, so it was a lot to take on.
“For open wheel drivers to jump into a sedan car is not easy. Having a test on Wednesday prior to the race is going to be another nice thing. Hopefully we can do a good job.”
Q: Most of the races you do are single drivers races in IndyCar. Have you done much endurance racing before where you share the car with other drivers?
“I have done the 24 Hours of Daytona in a GT car and the driver changes become kind of a race in itself, because getting in and out of the pits is important.
“Because you have a driver change in the middle of the pit stop you want to do it as fast as you can. We apply a lot of attention and a lot of time into making sure that your in laps and out laps are important to gain half a second or a second, but you could lose that on a poor driver change.
“So it is going to be important to practice all of that but it's just another addition to the Gold Coast event that will be really good for all the fans.”
Q: The Gold Coast event is special for you for a number of reasons. You met your wife Bronte there in 2001, you have been on the podium there before in Champ Car and you were even an adopted Aussie for a few years racing in the green and gold of the local team. When IndyCar left the event at the end of 2008 did you ever think you would be back?
“I'm very excited to be back. We all loved to come to this track. It was very unique, first of all from a technical point of view because the track is really nice to drive. It has very fast chicane on the back straight and in an IndyCar it was absolutely amazing. It had good 90 degree corners with good braking zones for passing.
“So it was always a good track to drive and it was always an event that was very well organised and very popular.
“I'm very glad that they came up with this format, which is interesting to bring some IndyCar drivers back here and into V8 Supercars. It gives us a chance to drive V8s and a chance to be back here in Australia.
“For me it's always a pleasure to be back so I'm going to try to enjoy my time back here with Bronte.”