Sebastien Bourdais will start on point for the first time since Milwaukee following a wild second round of qualifying for Sunday's West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix presented by The Brick. The 30-minute session had to be extended four minutes...
Sebastien Bourdais will start on point for the first time since Milwaukee following a wild second round of qualifying for Sunday's West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix presented by The Brick. The 30-minute session had to be extended four minutes following a rash of red flags, three of them to be precise, and Bourdais had to hold off strong attempts from his rivals. While Bourdais' lap of 58.560 was a new track record, it was not the quickest of the session. Paul Tracy laid down a flyer of 58.553 but after causing the first session stoppage, he lost the time.
Tracy led seven cars onto the track but only four minutes in had a small accident that caused the red. After deliberating with his Forsythe Championship Racing team, they determined it was the result of an electronic issue that induced a shifting problem. Tracy was stuck in pit lane for a little bit afterwards but would mount a challenge later in the session.
Shortly after the green flag was again displayed, Justin Wilson posted a 59.033 lap that held up for about 10 minutes. Wilson led pre-qualifying practice at 58.658 with Tracy second and Bourdais third. Another red flag quickly emerged after Dan Clarke spun and crashed, totaling another Lola chassis. Clarke often goes a tad over the edge, so sometimes the "Speedy" nickname doesn't apply and "Dangerous" should be the descriptive adjective in front of the rookie's name. It was a disappointing end for what had been a good couple days, having been 7th on the provisional grid and 5th in the morning's practice.
The clean up took eight minutes and a flurry of cars headed out once the green was displayed, in fact all but three of them. The action indeed got fast and furious from that point. Tracy timed in at 58.954, A.J. Allmendinger answered with 58.893 and then Wilson dropped a 58.688 to take the provisional pole. Tracy battled throughout the session to put in the fastest lap despite losing whatever his fastest time was.
But no sooner than Nelson Philippe and Will Power improved their positions, to 5th and 6th, Bourdais crossed the stripe at 58.564 to jump to P1, a place he wouldn't relinquish the rest of the session. Almost instantaneously his teammate, Bruno Junqueira, spun and stalled at turn 8 to bring out the third red flag.
Another few minutes of waiting and Tracy was on pace for a 58.3, but was balked by Oriol Servia. Tracy's next lap was clocked at 58.553, but he would go no faster. His 58.622 lap improved him to 2nd but was just shy of Bourdais's mark. For good measure, Bourdais gained four thousandths on his fastest lap but he was still first. The Frenchman and Tracy start on the front row for the first time this season; so expect some fireworks at turn one.
Wilson and Allmendinger, the former teammates at RuSPORT, start 3rd and 4th with Servia completing the top 5. Philippe and Power had a great dice for 6th - it ultimately went to the Australian rookie, with the now 20-year-old Philippe in 7th. Andrew Ranger improved from 14th on the provisional grid to 8th while Cristiano da Matta and Katherine Legge both dropped at least 5 spots from Friday, to 14th and 15th respectively.