CHAMPCAR/CART: Vancouver: Team Rahal track talk

Jourdain crafting a career year HILLIARD, OH . . . It took Team Rahal's Michel Jourdain Jr. just ten races in 2003 to top his point total for the entire 2002 season. Jourdain's second place finish at Toronto two-weeks ago pushed his points...

Jourdain crafting a career year

HILLIARD, OH . . . It took Team Rahal's Michel Jourdain Jr. just ten races in 2003 to top his point total for the entire 2002 season. Jourdain's second place finish at Toronto two-weeks ago pushed his points total to a career best 113 and kept him third in the Champ Car World Series championship. For Jourdian the podium finish in Ontario snapped his longest podium drought of the season (three races) and closed the gap to second place Bruno Junqueira in the points standings.

For Jourdain, 2003 has been a dream season featuring five podium results in the first ten races, his first Champ Car pole (Long Beach) and win (Milwaukee). The eight-year veteran has developed into the championship contender that three-time series champion Bobby Rahal predicted when he signed with Team Rahal in 2002.

The Gigante car has been a fixture at the front of the field starting in the top-three five times and finishing on the podium five times. Only series points leader Paul Tracy has led more laps than Jourdain.

"We have had some success this season, but that has only made this team hungrier," said Jourdain. "There are only so many chances you get to contend for a championship and we need to continue doing the little things to make a difference."

Consistency is what wins championships and Michel has been as consistent as any driver in the series over the last couple of years," said Rahal. "The big difference for him this year has been the speed he has found in qualifying and the improved starting positions. Last year he was racing for top-tens and this year he is racing for podiums."

This week Team Rahal and the rest of the Champ Car World Series head to Vancouver, British Columbia for the annual Molson Indy Vancouver. Team Rahal has struggled at Concord Pacific Place over the last seven years, posting just a single top-five result since Rahal finished second in 1996. That lone top-five belongs to Jourdain who drove an impressive race last summer, starting 18th and finishing fourth.

"Vancouver was one of our best runs in 2002," said Jourdain, "but that was last year. We have been very fast on the street courses and we need a strong race to make up some ground on Paul. It was good to get back on the podium at Toronto even though we lost some ground to PT. He was so strong that second was almost like a win."

Vancouver begins a stretch of three-races in three-weeks that culminates in Team Rahal's home race at Mid-Ohio. The combination of a street race and a pair of demanding road courses (Elkhart Lake and Mid-Ohio) makes this a critical stretch in the championship.

"Being successful in this stretch of races is important," said Jourdain. "As a team fighting for the championship we really want to build some momentum and carry it through this stretch. This will be a demanding run on the drivers and teams. The atmosphere around the Gigante team is very upbeat and I have a good feeling heading to Vancouver."

MISTER CONSISTENT POSTS ANOTHER POINTS PAYING RESULT

Since he joined Team Rahal at the start of the 2002 Champ Car season, Michel Jourdain Jr. has been the model of consistency. Jourdain posted points paying results in his first 17 events with Team Rahal last season, establishing a team record for consecutive points paying finishes.

At Toronto, Jourdain collected his fifth podium finish of the season and his third runner-up result by finishing second.

In 29 races with Team Rahal, Jourdain has posted points 27 times. He has collected 11 top-five results and 22 top-ten finishes. Only twice in the previous 29 events with Team Rahal has Jourdain failed to finish a race. With victory in sight, a gearbox failure at Long Beach left Jourdain with his second Team Rahal DNF and his first since Fontana in November of 2002.

A year ago Jourdain led the series in laps completed (2,368) and miles logged (4,238). Jourdain enters the race at Vancouver once again as the series leader in laps completed (1,255) and miles logged (2,126).

JOURDAIN HAS MADE QUALIFYING A FOCUS N 2003

One of the keys for Jourdain in '03 has been his qualifying success. Through the first ten races of 2003 Jourdain's average starting position is fifth, as opposed to an average starting slot of 14th in 2002. Having started in the top-five in seven of the first ten races allowed the steady Jourdain move to the front of the points chase, and has made the Gigante pit crew, the defending Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge champions, a significant weapon in #9 cars success.

At Toronto Jourdain started third, his fifth top-three start of the season. Jourdain has three front-row starts including his first Champ Car career pole position at Long Beach in April.

TEAM RAHAL'S SINGLE CAR TITLE QUEST

Jourdain and the Gigante team are vying to become the first single car entry to win the Champ Car World Series championship since Jacques Villeneuve with Players in 1995. Only three have won the title with a single entry, including Bobby Rahal in Team Rahal's first year of operation 1992.

JOURDAIN 2003 vs. 2002

Jourdain has surpassed his 2002 point total (105) in just ten races. Last season Jourdain averaged 5.5 points per race. In 2003 Jourdain and the Gigante team are currently averaging 11.3 points per race. . Jourdain had just 61 points in his first six Champ Car seasons. In his first seven seasons in Champ Car Jourdain posted 166 points in 120 races. He is on pace to surpass his point total for seven seasons in 2003 alone. At the current pace he would 'double' his career points at Denver on Labor Day weekend. Since the start of the 2002 season when he joined Team Rahal Jourdian has amassed 228 points in the Champ Car World Series.

TEAM RAHAL STILL LOOKING FOR FIRST VANCOUVER WIN

Team Rahal was founded in 1992 as Rahal/Hogan Racing and in the team's eleven previous trips to Concord Pacific Place in downtown Vancouver, the team has never won the Molson Indy Vancouver.

Team Rahal's best finish at Vancouver belongs to Bobby Rahal himself who twice brought the Miller car home in second ('93& '96). Since Rahal's retirement following the 1998 season the best result for a Team Rahal driver was Michel Jourdain's fourth place finish in 2002.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Bruno Junqueira , Bobby Rahal , Paul Tracy , Michel Jourdain