CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto:Minardi Team USA race report

CRAZY DAY IN TORONTO FOR MINARDI TEAM USA Toronto, ON -- "It's been a crazy day." Those were the words of Robert Doornbos' race engineer as his driver took the checkered flag at the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto in sixth position. The ...

CRAZY DAY IN TORONTO FOR MINARDI TEAM USA

Toronto, ON -- "It's been a crazy day." Those were the words of Robert Doornbos' race engineer as his driver took the checkered flag at the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto in sixth position. The comment came at the conclusion of an incident-filled race, with highly changeable weather conditions playing a significant part in the outcome of the event. Unfortunately, it was not a good day for 'Speedy' Dan Clarke either, as he made contact with the wall on lap 45.

Robert experienced a heart-stopping moment at the start of the race, when he stalled and had to wait for the Holmatro Safety Team to get him going. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, however, as he missed a first-lap, five-car pile-up, and moved up to tenth position as a result. The rain-plagued race was full of caution laps, but Robert stayed out of trouble and was running in sixth place in the closing laps, chasing Sebastien Bourdais. Unfortunately, while attempting a pass in the slippery conditions, he made contact with the back of the Frenchman's car. Robert once again took advantage of the Safety Crew's assistance in re-starting his car and made a quick pit-stop to replace a damaged front wing. He then returned to the track, and despite his steering wheel being askew, finished the race in sixth. He moves back into the lead of the Championship standings, just two points ahead of Will Power, and three ahead of Bourdais.

Robert Doornbos

"It was a fairly messy race. We needed to get as many points as possible this weekend, and we made do with what we could. The race began poorly for us with the stall at the start, but as it turned out, it may have been a blessing in disguise. I would have been right in the middle of the accident on the opening lap. After the re-start, we settled into a rhythm and saved fuel, and when the rain started, I got more comfortable with the car. Towards the end, I was chasing Sebastien, and I could see that he was struggling a bit. I got on the brakes at the same place as always, but I ran up on him, lost the down force on my car, and turned him around. It was a racing incident, it was very tricky conditions out there and it could have happened to anybody."

'Speedy' Dan's day started out very well, and he expertly navigated his way through the massive first-lap incident, so close that a piece of debris just brushed his helmet. He made several impressive passes under dry conditions, including one on Bruno Junqueira, which occurred right as Wilson spun in front of both of them. Dan was running fourth, but Champ Car felt the pass was made under yellow, and forced him to give up the position. Unfortunately, in letting Junqueira by, Neel Jani and Simon Pagenaud also got around him and he was back to seventh. Dan was turning very quick lap times as rain started to fall. While the rest of the field opted to pit for wet weather tires, Dan took a gamble with the conditions and stayed out on his softer compound, red "Option" tires. As the rain came down harder, Dan lost grip and ended up in the turn eleven wall, sadly ending his day.

'Speedy' Dan Clarke

"It was a disappointing outcome, but once again, we showed we have good speed in the races. I'm frustrated with the official call to make me drop back a place, as it allowed several other drivers to get through. I made a call to stay on dry tires as it started to rain and everyone else elected to go to wets. For a short while, it looked like the decision was a good one, but then I made a mistake as the grip was coming in. The fact is, we started P13, and then we were running P4, so I feel confident as we move on to Edmonton and San Jose. Both were strong races for us last year, and I know we can do well again. Finally, I'd like to say thank you to the team for doing another outstanding job. I'm sorry I didn't bring the car home for them this time."

PAUL STODDART, TEAM CO-OWNER

"It's a case of mixed feelings after today's race. Yes, we're now leading the championship standings, but neither Robert nor Dan had the best of races, and the tricky weather conditions, which normally play to the team's strengths, just didn't fall into place at the right time. As usual, though, the team did a great job, as did the drivers, so it's onwards and upwards to Edmonton."

KEITH WIGGINS, TEAM CO-OWNER

"It wasn't the easiest weekend, that's for sure, so this was a reasonably good outcome for us. With Robert, you take the points that you can get. Unfortunately, it wasn't such a good day for Dan, but we've got a lot of racing left and we have to keep looking ahead."

-credit: minarditeamusa

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Sébastien Bourdais , Robert Doornbos , Neel Jani , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud , Dan Clarke