Justin finished a frustrated 5th at Zolder after a difficult weekend during which the ...
Justin finished a frustrated 5th at Zolder after a difficult weekend during which the #9 CDW-RuSPORT team missed out on valuable track time on Friday and Justin himself battled through a debilitating stomach bug.
When the race started, though, the adrenaline kicked in and Justin was his usual self. He picked off Bruno Junqueira (Dale Coyne Racing) at Turn 1 on the opening lap to move up to 4th place. After fuel saving during the opening stint, the first pit-stops under a full course yellow on Lap 17 were uneventful. At the next stop on Lap 40, a combination of further fuel saving and great pit work by the #9 CDW crew allowed Justin to leapfrog Will Power (Team Australia) and Robert Doornbos (Minardi Team USA) and move up to 2nd.
But Graham Rahal (Newman/Haas/Lanigan) and Junqueira had both pitted out of sequence, and after the final pit-stops on lap 50 the chances of a podium finish started to evaporate. "The car felt pretty good and the #9 CDW crew gave me some great pit-stops", said Justin afterwards. "But with the different fuel strategies, it felt like one step forward and two steps back."
Pushing hard, on Lap 59 Justin got past Rahal and a short while later found himself on Junqueira's tail. But he lost out trying to out-brake the Brazilian into Turn 1 on Lap 60 and dropped back from P3 to P5 in the aftermath. "As soon as I got on the brakes both fronts locked up and I knew it wasn't going to stop", lamented Justin. "I got bad flatspots on both wheels, so they locked at the next turn and Graham got through, and then Will got by me coming out of Turn 4. The vibrations were terrible, so after that it was just a case of damage limitation and bringing it home."
"From my point of view Zolder has been a lot of fun and for the fans I'm sure it was a great race", Justin concluded. The #9 CDW team now travel the short distance to Assen in the Netherlands for next weekend's race.