Bruno Junqueira played the waiting game while his competition fell by the wayside today in the 76-lap Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey presented by Roshfrans on the 2.104-mile Fundidora Park circuit.
Driving the Newman/Haas Racing #2 PacifiCare Champ Car from fifth on the grid, Junqueira beat surprising rookie Andrew Ranger in the #27 Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing Lola by just over 1.37 seconds in a caution-filled contest.
Ranger was elated even though like all those who made it to the end, exhausted! "I'm very, very happy because the team worked so hard on the car. We qualified 14th and it was a very tough day and a very tough race. The car was fantastic and it is great for the team to have this performance today," said the young rookie.
On a steamy Mexican afternoon where temperatures reached the 112-degree mark and tempers equaled the weather gauge, Alex Tagliani finished third in the #15 Team Australia Lola, followed by second starter Justin Wilson's #9 SanDisk Lola and the #1 McDonald's Lola of reigning champion Sebastien Bourdais.
"It's really hard to be mistake free on a hot day like today and I think you saw drivers making mistakes that they normally wouldn't make because of the heat," explained the race winner. "I think the fact that I train in the heat of the day makes a difference."
Only ten drivers were classified as finishers as the remaining nine were eliminated, mostly due to contact in the second round of competition in the Bridgestone Presents Champ Car World Series powered by Ford.
"I'm just trying to get back to where I know I can be, and where I have been in the past," Tagliani reflected on his past performances in Champ Car competition. "I feel really good about what we're doing."
The race did not go like clock-work for any of the teams, second on the grid, RuSPORT's Justin Wilson kept it together to cross the line in fourth position. "It was a really bizarre race today. It seemed like everyone had some good fortune and everyone had some bad fortune.
"Things were looking pretty positive until I stalled on my second pit-stop. Then we fell way back. We gained some valuable points, but it was definitely a crazy day," finished the Brit on his thoughts of today's race.
Pole sitter Bourdais struggled in today's race after having smooth sailing in practice plus qualifying. The Long Beach race winner and defending champion was unhappy with Paul Tracy and expressed his displeasure with the Canadian racer. "We lost another race thanks to Tracy. He was goofing around in pit in and pit out.
"He doesn't give you any room when you are trying to pass him and things like that but that's usual PT," continued Bourdais. "As much as I like him because he's a nice guy, he's just not on the race track. It's got to stop, somehow it's got to stop."
Past champion Tracy had contact on lap 49 and ended up out of the race, the Canadian driver had no comment at the end of the day.