If Friday was "only" a dominant performance, then today Sebastien Bourdais annihilated the competition. Yesterday he was the only driver to post a time in the 1:42 range, and today he raised the bar even higher by banging out a phenomenal...
If Friday was "only" a dominant performance, then today Sebastien Bourdais annihilated the competition. Yesterday he was the only driver to post a time in the 1:42 range, and today he raised the bar even higher by banging out a phenomenal 1:41.535 right at the end of the session. After beating second-placed Will Power by eight-tenths yesterday, his time was over 1.5 seconds quicker today.
To put in perspective just how far ahead of the pack Bourdais was, second place down to 14th was separated by only six tenths of a second. Bourdais's lap made everyone's lips drop in shock. It was that good.
"We improved everywhere, to be honest," Bourdais said. "The conditions were so much better today, the rubber was down and I knew we were quick. It was super well-balanced. We didn't change much from yesterday. I could go flat in places where I couldn't yesterday."
Granted, a magnificent performance such as this one would lead one to believe the race is as good as decided before it even begins. But Bourdais is of the opinion, based on his experiences, nothing is over until the checkered flag flies on Sunday. He would know having been close to winning at Road America on several occasions but never sealing the deal.
Power didn't improve on his time from Friday but it was still quick enough to keep him on the front row. The third member of the championship- contending trio, Robert Doornbos, jumped to third on the final grid with a lap of 1:43.134.
"It's great to be on the front row," Power noted, "But I think we're all a little concerned about Seabass. I'm surprised no-one improved (until late), and luckily I did a good time on Friday. The car felt better today. Yesterday with the conflicting rubbers, the car felt really weird and confusing."
"I had no idea what lap times I was doing," Doornbos quipped, noting his dashboard had gone out before the session. "We overcame the problem and focused on tires. We had a new red set left from yesterday. I said, 'No, no, no, I need the blacks.' There was a bit of panic in pit lane - we felt the tires were good after we put them on."
Bruno Junqueira was first to move onto the front row, a time of 1:44.242 briefly the quickest in the session. That brief period was extended when Paul Tracy had a moment, losing it out of Canada Corner and nosing into the tire barriers. It has been quite a rough weekend for PT, the Canadian having been mired down the timesheets in every session.
Junqueira eventually improved to fifth by the end of the session, matching his best start of the year he set in Toronto. The man who replaced Junqueira this year at N/H/L, Graham Rahal, had a quiet but solidly impressive round of qualifying as third-quick in the session and fourth overall, at a time of 1:43.162. It's easy to get overshadowed when your teammate, who's off to F1, goes out and puts down a lap as he did.
Alex Tagliani was first of the RSPORTS cars in 6th, ahead of Neel Jani and Dan Clarke - each of whom failed to improve on their Friday times. A last- ditch effort brought Jan Heylen in the Grafiprint Conquest car up to 9th with Justin Wilson, another driver relying on their Friday time, completing the final top ten.
Despite the fact shadows were long, cooler track temperatures meant eight of the 17 drivers relied on their Friday times. It would have been nine - Bourdais's Friday lap of 1:42.385 was not beaten - but he mastered the conditions today.
The series' other two Frenchman line up towards the rear of the field, Tristan Gommendy of PKV and Simon Pagenaud of Team Australia opposite each other on row six.
It was a rough day for Pacific Coast Motorsports and Forsythe Championship Racing. Ryan Dalziel slipped from sixth on Friday down to 13th with Alex Figge in 15th. Forsythe was mired in 14th and 16th, Oriol Servia not even posting a time today while Tracy's struggles continued. Servia went out for his first lap and stopped past turn three when the fire went out in his car.
Tomorrow's one hour, forty minute timed race goes off at 2:00 local time where Bourdais looks to convert his weekend dominance into his first victory at this racetrack.