CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Team Australia race report

AUSSIE POWER WINS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR, FIRST PODIUM IN MEXICO In a tremendous result for Australian motorsport, young Queensland Champ Car driver Will Power has wrapped up the Rookie of the Year award by claiming his first podium finish overnight...

AUSSIE POWER WINS ROOKIE OF THE YEAR, FIRST PODIUM IN MEXICO

In a tremendous result for Australian motorsport, young Queensland Champ Car driver Will Power has wrapped up the Rookie of the Year award by claiming his first podium finish overnight at the final round of the Champ Car World Series in Mexico City.

The Team Australia 25-year-old from Toowoomba placed third in the 66-lap Mexico City race behind series champion Sebastien Bourdais from France and Justin Wilson from England who moved up to second overall in the standings.

Power's result not only earned him the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year title but elevated him to sixth outright in the series standings -- the best ever finish by an Australian driver, clinched him the prestigious Bridgestone Passion for Excellence Award, and made him the first Australian driver to score a Champ Car podium since Geoff Brabham finished third in Miami in 1987.

The Bridgestone Passion for Excellence Award honours the driver who completes the fastest aggregate race lap around every circuit on the 2006 Champ Car World Series schedule.

It was a tremendous finish to the season for the young Queenslander who only three weeks ago claimed his first pole position on the Gold Coast at the Lexmark Indy 300 before an incident with Bourdais put an end to his podium aspirations there.

"Wow what can I say - what an incredible way to end the season on a high," said Power.

"We struggled in the first stint and lost some time, but in the wet we really came on strong. The last 14 laps were really relaxing and I was able to have fun.

"I have to say thanks to all of Team Australia. This was an awesome result for them and they all deserve it."

Power's Team Australia team mate Alex Tagliani also had an impressive end to his season with a fifth place finish in Mexico City, to also secure him a top eight position in the series standings.

Bourdais and Wilson staged a great duel over the closing stages of the race, with Bourdais battling back from four seconds behind to take his seventh win of the season, the 23rd of his career, and confirm his third successive championship crown.

The Newman/Haas Racing driver overcame a 360-degree spin, stretched the life of his Bridgestone Potenza rain tyres over two stints, escaped unharmed through a side-by-side battle through the fabled final Peraltada turn, and made a hair-raising pass of Wilson on the last lap of the year to take the win.

"It was just an incredible race, a great battle with Justin the whole time," said Bourdais.

"We both drove the wheels off these cars. That was pretty exciting, I think, at the very end when we decided to stay on the same set of tyres, Bridgestone wet tyres, it made the whole difference.

"I think it's just a great way to finish that era of Champ Car with the last victory."

The last-lap pass by Bourdais ended a courageous run for victory by Wilson (RuSPORT) who led a race-high 40 laps despite a broken wrist that caused him to miss the Lexmark Indy 300. Wilson's second-place run was enough to move him into a career-best second place in the final season standings.

The other Australian entrant in the race, Ryan Briscoe (RuSPORT), competing in only his second Champ Car race finished 14th.

The 66-lap race started under spotty sunshine at the venerable Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, but the sun didn't last long and clouds and rain rolled in by the race's halfway point.

By the end of the day the rain had taken charge, forcing everyone to change to rain tyres and allowing some of the field to show their wet-weather skills. The three-day attendance for the Mexico City event was 198,375.

The 17th Lexmark Indy 300 will be held on the Gold Coast from October 18 to 21 next year.

-credit: team australia

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Alex Tagliani , Ryan Briscoe , Will Power , Geoff Brabham