Lilly driver Bourdais finished fifth in the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio; Pacificare driver Junqueira lost championship lead after hit early in race and finished 13th. - Lilly driver Sebastien Bourdais maintained his fourth place rank in...
Lilly driver Bourdais finished fifth in the Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio; Pacificare driver Junqueira lost championship lead after hit early in race and finished 13th.
- Lilly driver Sebastien Bourdais maintained his fourth place rank in the Champ Car World Series point standings with a fifth place finish in today's 92-lap Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio after he started third. On the opening lap, fourth place starter Michel Jourdain passed him for position. He held fourth place through a caution period from Laps 9-11 for Roberto Moreno who drove into the tire barrier and from Laps 13-16 for contact between Oriol Servia and teammate Bruno Junqueira. He made his first of three mandatory pit stops each 24 laps on Lap 24 and returned to the track in eighth place as the top-four cars had made an early pit stop during the previous caution period. As he was attempting to depart his pit box which was situated at the pit exit, rookie Ryan Hunter-Reay, who started second narrowly exited ahead of him for third of those on the same strategy and seventh overall. He moved into seventh place on Lap 35 when temporary second place runner Tiago Monteiro made his second pit stop and moved into fifth on the following lap as two more out-of-sequence cars pitted. On Lap 38, he temporarily reclaimed fourth place before Patrick Carpentier passed him for position. He held fifth place until his second stop on Lap 48. He maintained his position relative to leader Paul Tracy but was in sixth place due to temporary race leader Monteiro holding the first position before his next out of sequence stop. On Lap 53 he was passed by Jimmy Vasser who had steadily moved up from his 14th place start. Once Monteiro made his next stop, Bourdais took over sixth place on Lap 59. Vasser, who had moved up to fourth place, made his final pit stop on Lap 70 which moved Bourdais into fifth place before his final stop on Lap 72. Once his stop neared completion, he prepared to exit the pits but the fuel hose was still connected to the car. The team motioned for him to wait and the fuel nozzle was removed and he returned to the track in sixth place which he held until Vasser brought out a full course caution when he slid off course and into the gravel trap on Lap 84 of 92. Once the race was restarted on lap 88 he held fifth place for the remaining five laps. He set the second fastest lap of the race and collected 10 points for his fifth place finish to bring his total to 126 to leader Paul Tracy's 184 with six races to go. Following are his post race comments:
"It was a tough race," said Bourdais. "I was a bit dry because the water bottle in my car didn't work but the team did a good job to get me water during the pit stops. We started third but the race has not been a big success for us. We set the second fastest lap of the race but I couldn't pass because I had too much understeer. The car was good at the start but then it started to push more, more, more. At the start the steering wheel was very heavy but we had no grip. It didn't improve much after that. It was just an okay race for us but it is good to get points for a fifth place finish."
- PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira entered the weekend in the Champ Car World Series points lead for the first time in his CART career but relinquished it to Mid-Ohio winner Paul Tracy after he failed to score points from his 13th place finish due to a Lap 13 incident with Oriol Servia that dropped him to last place. At the start of the 92-lap Champ Car Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio on the 2.258-mile road course, Junqueira held his sixth place qualifying position through a caution period on Lap 10 to remove the car of Roberto Moreno who drove off course and into the tire barrier in Turn 11. On the restart on Lap 13, Junqueira admittedly had a bad exit from Turn 1 and was challenged by Oriol Servia who attempted to drive alongside him on the inside line heading into Turn 2. Servia's left front wheel hit the right rear of Junqueira's car and the two slid off course and into the gravel trap in Turn 2. Junqueira initially stood up in his race car to assess the damage as well as relay his disappointment to the Spaniard before the Simple Green Safety Team was able to coordinate the lifting of Junqueira and his car out of the gravel trap and back on course. He then drove around the course and into the pits for the decision on whether he could safely resume the race. His damaged front wing was replaced as were his tires and fuel and his seatbelts and radio were again secured once the team decided he could safely resume the event. Once he was back on track, he was two laps down to the leader and main championship rival Paul Tracy in 17th place with the hope that attrition would move him into a top-12, points-paying finish. On Lap 37 he made his second pit stop and returned to the race in the same position. On Lap 47 he moved into 16th place after Gualter Salles went off course. He moved into 15th on Lap 72 when Mario Dominguez retired with mechanical failure and into 14th when Jimmy Vasser, who had charged from his 14th place start into fourth, slid off course on Lap 83 and brought out a full course caution. On Lap 85 he moved into 13th place when he passed Geoff Boss for position, which he held until the checkered flag after 92 laps. It was only the second time in 13 events that he had failed to finish in the top five or score points. He entered race weekend with a three-point advantage on Paul Tracy but the Canadian earned the maximum of 23 this weekend to depart Ohio with a 20-point advantage. Following are his post race comments:
"Servia just hit me," said Junqueira. "He wasn't even side by side and then he hit my rear tire. It is very frustrating and it was also too early in the race for him to try that. We had to replace the front wing and were two laps behind when we returned to the track. We were just hoping to salvage some points from other cars dropping out but we didn't get any. It is a long championship but unfortunately the 23 points I gained last week, I lost this week. It's too bad our top-five streak ended this way. I didn't have the best car today but I wanted to finish with some points. The PacifiCare team will regroup and come back stronger in Montreal. Newman/Haas was on pole there last year and I started third so we hope to be very competitive and make up some points."
- Next Up...The Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will have their first weekend off after three races in a row before adjourning to Montreal, Quebec, Canada for the Molson Indy Montreal on August 24. Junqueira started third in the inaugural race there last year and retired after engine failure. NHR's da Matta started on pole and took a conservative approach to the pit strategy and finished second. Fittipaldi started 11th and finished seventh.