Hometown Heartbreak for Hinchcliffe Toronto, Canada (July 08, 2007) -- James Hinchcliffe was collected from behind and eventually classified 11th as his hometown of Toronto hosted an incident-packed eighth round of the 2007 Cooper Tires ...
Hometown Heartbreak for Hinchcliffe
Toronto, Canada (July 08, 2007) -- James Hinchcliffe was collected from behind and eventually classified 11th as his hometown of Toronto hosted an incident-packed eighth round of the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda on Sunday morning on the 1.75-mile temporary street course at Exhibition Place.
The 20-year-old's first retirement, following an impressive run of four podium finishes in the last five starts, combined with France's Franck Perera's second straight victory has dropped the sophomore racer to fourth in the Driver Standings having held second to his Sierra Sierra Enterprises team-mate Raphael Matos since Round 5 in Portland last month.
While the weekend ultimately ended in disappointment for 'Hinch', the earlier forecast looked far more promising. Third fastest in Friday's qualifying session, James continued his impressive run of qualifying slots by claiming his seventh top-five start with fifth on the grid following Saturday's second session, his lap time a 1m05.982s (95.753mph) to the pole-winning effort of Matos, the Brazilian capturing his fourth pole of the season with a 1m05.621s lap (96.280mph).
The 23-car field started Sunday's race on slick tires, but a downpour unleashed on the opening lap soon prompted a change of heart and the race was red-flagged on lap three having run under yellows since early incidents brought out a full-course caution on the first tour.
Hinchcliffe darted to pit-lane in the #9 NOCO/ProWorks Swift Mazda-Cosworth for a set of wet tires and waited, along with his rivals, for Champ Car Atlantic officials to allow them back on-track. While track conditions remained treacherous, the field was eventually waived off once again with James holding fifth closing in on Matos ahead. His hopes of attacking his team-mate were quickly curtailed as a second full-course caution just three laps into proceedings froze the field.
The subsequent deployment of the safety car seemed to catch some drivers unaware and James was soon a helpless victim of contact from behind as fellow Canadian, Kevin Lacroix, speared into the back of him. Limping back to the pits, the Sierra Sierra crew began to work feverishly to see if they could repair the damage to James' car but eventually the call was made to retire from the race.
"Well we were running under caution and Kevin decided to come in a little hot," James reflected. "I was catching up to the pace car and all of a sudden I got nailed in the back and he bounced off me and took out Junior Strous too. It was a bit of a rookie mistake but that's racing -- what can you do!"
Rounds 9 and 10 of the 2007 Champ Car Atlantic Championship will be hosted at the temporary street course at Edmonton's 1.973-mile City Centre Airport, Friday 20th -- Sunday 22nd July: www.grandprixedmonton.com