Justin salvages 5th from slippery Grand Prix of Mont-Tremblant Justin finished a disappointed 5th in Sunday's Grand Prix of Mont-Tremblant. With the polesitter out before the race started, three other cars stalled on the grid, and heavy rain ...
Justin salvages 5th from slippery Grand Prix of Mont-Tremblant
Justin finished a disappointed 5th in Sunday's Grand Prix of Mont-Tremblant. With the polesitter out before the race started, three other cars stalled on the grid, and heavy rain showers, it was a chaotic race. Although Justin's car control with slicks on a damp track was masterful, unfortunately the #9 CDW car struggled for balance on full wet tyres and a momentary lead quickly evaporated. Robert Doornbos brought home a maiden Champ Car victory for Minardi Team USA and a delighted Paul Stoddart. Sebastien Bourdais (Newman Haas Lanigan) was runner-up and Will Power (Team Australia) was third.
With polesitter Tristan Gommendy (PKV) unable to start due to an electrical problem, Justin lined up 3rd for the start, but Will Power stalled in front of him. Forced to swerve around the stricken car, Justin lost momentum and Robert Doornbos gained a place. After an immediate full course caution to get Power and two other stalled cars underway, the first dry stint in dry conditions was unremarkable. Justin ran in a comfortable 3rd position, saving fuel behind Bourdais and Doornbos, and he retained that position after his first pit-stop on Lap 20. Then the rain started.
Just as in qualifying, a passing shower soaked only part of the track, so everyone soldiered on with slick tyres. After a full course yellow for Jan Haylen's accident, Bourdais took the honours for the first leader to slide off by running wide as he prepared for the restart on Lap 27, gifting the lead to Doornbos and P2 to Justin. On Lap 37 Justin pitted again for slicks, but several others, including new race leader Graham Rahal (Newman Haas Lanigan) stayed out, so Justin emerged in 6th.
By Lap 42 it was raining hard again and the cars were tip-toeing around the circuit, still on slicks. Justin seemed to cope better with these conditions than others, making a sensational move through Turns 4 and 5 to get past first Pagenaud, then Doornbos and then Bourdais to move up to P2 behind Rahal. On Lap 44 Rahal led the field into pit lane for the inevitable switch to Bridgestone wets, but when his car stalled and struggled to restart, Justin emerged in the lead. Unfortunately that was to be short-lived.
On Lap 47 Justin led from the restart following a caution for Alex Figge (PCM), but the #9 CDW car was visibly struggling for balance on wet tyres, slid wide onto the grass and in an instant Justin was down to P6. RSPORTS team-mate Alex Tagliani also managed to get past on Lap 50, dropping Justin to P7. On Lap 60, two laps before the end, Alex ran wide while trying to take 5th from Neel Jani (PKV). This allowed Justin back up to 6th and, determined to salvage what he could, Justin passed Jani on the last lap to take 5th at the chequered flag.
"It was an eventful race", said Justin. "When Will Power stalled, that compromised my start quite dramatically and I had to let (Robert) Doornbos go by. I could see that Sebastien (Bourdais) had got a rolling start and I was hoping that the officials had seen it, but they didn't penalise him. From then on it was just driving to the conditions. When it started raining we were on slicks and I managed to get past everyone. But as soon as we put the wets on we were really slow - we had no balance. We were just hanging on until it dried out a little bit on the last few laps. We were quicker then, but unfortunately it was too little, too late."