Justin punted out of contention in San Jose

Justin's hopes of a decent result from pole position at the San Jose Grand Prix evaporated just four laps into the race when Dan Clarke (Minardi Team USA) ran into the back of him, breaking his right rear suspension and drive shaft. Justin and the #9 CDW team recovered as best they could to set a new lap record and salvage a few championship points by finishing 13th, but it was little consolation for their ruined weekend. Robert Doornbos took a well-deserved victory for Minardi Team USA after recovering from an early contact-induced stall. Neel Jani was second for PKV while Oriol Servia rounded out the podium for Forsythe.

At the start Justin lost the lead to Sebastien Bourdais (Newman/Haas/Lanigan) in the drag down to Turn 1, but he regained it almost immediately by passing the Frenchman a few corners later. Within seconds the field was under a full course caution to clear the track after contact further down the field at Turn 1. Bourdais dropped down the order when he almost stalled the car saving fuel and, for a fleeting moment, luck seemed to be going Justin's way. But all of that was meaningless just a few laps later when his race ground to a shuddering halt on Lap 4. "As we came around for the restart I hadn't even made it to the exit of Turn 6 and I got rammed from behind", he lamented. "I don't know what Dan was thinking; he mustn't have been paying attention and just came flying into the back of me."

With his suspension visibly damaged, Justin limped back to the pits. As further retirements were expected in such a high-attrition race, the team worked flat out to get the car running again and claw back some additional places and points. Also at stake was the championship point for fastest lap. "The #9 CDW crew did a really good job to replace the drive shaft", said Justin. "It's hard to change because they have to take everything else off the rear corner to get to it. I just sat there in disbelief and waited until it was time to go again."

When Justin emerged on lap 36 about 20 minutes later, he was 21 laps down on the leaders, but had already climbed two places to 15th spot. In the end he took the chequered flag in 13th place, 20 laps down, and set a new lap record of 49.584 seconds (104.768 mph) which was 0.4 seconds quicker than anyone else. But these were small crumbs of comfort on a day to forget for RSPORTS. One of the drivers leapfrogged by Justin was team-mate Alex Tagliani who was forced to retire on Lap 83 with transmission problems.

"It's a shame", concluded Justin. "The #9 CDW car has been fantastic all weekend. It was awesome in the race. I was just trying to stay out of people's way and trying to pick up every point that we could. In the end it wasn't a complete waste. We did the best we could, thanks to the guys' hard work in getting me back out again."

Justin and the team get some much needed rest next weekend before returning to the fray in a fortnight for Round 10 at Road America, Wisconsin.

-credit: justinwilson.co.uk