EXCITEMENT GROWS AS CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES HEADS TO PICTURESQUE MONT-TREMBLANT Feel the Excitement, Share the Thrills - Champ Car Mont-Tremblant couldn't have picked a better slogan for their inaugural race which takes place this Canada Day...
EXCITEMENT GROWS AS CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES HEADS TO PICTURESQUE MONT-TREMBLANT
Feel the Excitement, Share the Thrills - Champ Car Mont-Tremblant couldn't have picked a better slogan for their inaugural race which takes place this Canada Day weekend at the historic Circuit Mont-Tremblant. After last weekend's 'rock and roll' race in Cleveland, you can already feel the excitement in the air as the Champ Car World Series heads in to Round Six on the 2007 schedule.
Last week's race in Cleveland had passes, spins, a black flag, broken front wings, cars going off course and a timely, or untimely yellow flag, depending on how you see it. But in the end it was "Captain Quebec" aka Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) that came out victorious. It was the Canadian's first win since 2005 and that 31st career win gives him momentum as he heads across the border for a string of three Canadian races.
The inaugural Champ Car Mont-Tremblant race takes place in the heart of the Laurentians this weekend and will mark the official return of Champ Cars to the 2.65-mile natural road course. The series last visited Le Circuit in 1968 when Mario Andretti won from the pole position. The circuit, a fast, 15 turn mix of up hills, down hills and blind corners, is known as one of the most demanding in the world and was highly rated from all the Champ Car drivers who tested there in May.
Only two current Champ Car drivers have competed at Le Circuit in the past, one of them being Tracy, who raced there some 20 years ago, before rookie competitor Graham Rahal (#2 Medi|Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) was even born.
The 38 year-old Forsythe Championship Racing veteran wouldn't mind repeating his Cleveland performance but in order to do that he will have to fight off Dutchman, Robert Doornbos (#14 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who, after an up and down race in Cleveland -- where he fell to the back of the pack after serving a black flag penalty -- still managed to climb onto the podium for a fourth time in five races this year. The Rookie's performance put him only three points behind Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) in the championship standings as he continues to search for that first win.
The battle for the points lead will get even more intense this weekend as both Newman/Haas/Lanigan's Bourdais and Minardi Team USA's Doornbos topped the time sheets during the private test session held at Le Circuit, Doornbos was quickest on day one while 'Seb' went fastest on day two. The three-time Champ Car champion entered the weekend in Cleveland strong, topping both qualifying sessions but mechanical issues ended his day early and you can always expect the #1 McDonald's driver to bounce back after a difficult race.
Two other drivers that are looking to bounce back are the Team Australia duo of Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and Simon Pagenaud (#15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone). The Aussie Vineyards drivers continue to be on form but once again Lady Luck failed to give them a break. Like Bourdais, the pair had a great start to the weekend, qualifying in the top-three, but their fortunes turned when a yellow flag flew during the race costing them a probable double-podium finish, making them even hungrier entering the Canadian round of races.
Frenchman Pagenaud does however head to Mont-Tremblant hot off his best performance so far this season, which can only be encouraging for the rookie who is tied for second with rival Rahal in the rookie standings. As for Rahal, whose father Bobby competed at the fabled Quebec track, he also showed great promise once more after leading the first laps of his young career and he too is on the verge of his first victory.
Hometown hero Alex Tagliani (#8 Tide@Wal-Mart Victory Lap Charity Program Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) of RSPORTS is the other driver who has competed at Le Circuit back in the early stages of his career. Racing in front of his friends, family and sponsors, the 'Quebecois' will have the added pressure of continuing to perform as he has done since the start of the season. Tagliani's consistency keeps him in fourth place in the standings only eight points away from a targeted top-three spot.
PKV Racing's Neel Jani (#21 Red Bull/Gulfstream Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) became the third rookie this season to claim a podium finish, proving just how competitive the 2007 field is. Jani was quick in pre-season testing but struggled to come through in the first four races. With his maiden podium last week, Jani was able to close the gap on second place in the Rookie-of-the-year standings and will be looking to reach that second place with a strong performance on the Mont-Tremblant circuit, a track that is reminiscent of those he has raced on in Europe.
Out of the 17 drivers present at this weekend's race only five have not run at the track. Conquest Racing's Jan Heylen (Champ Car Grand Prix of Belgium Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone), Oriol Servia (#7 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) of Forsythe Championship Racing, Neel Jani and Dale Coyne Racing's Bruno Junqueira (#19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and Katherine Legge (#11 Dale Coyne Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone).
The first round of qualifying will take place at 2:15 p.m. Friday while the starting line-up for the Champ Car Mont-Tremblant race will be set at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 30. Round six on the Champ Car World Series 2007 schedule will take place at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, July 1 and will be broadcast live on ESPN in the United States and on Global TV in Canada (all times eastern).