CHAMPCAR/CART: Bourdais bags pole at Road America

There's another point in the championship bucket for Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais who secured pole position today for Sunday's 52-lap Grand Prix of Road America on the seminal 4.048-mile permanent road course abutting the Village of Elkhart ...

There's another point in the championship bucket for Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais who secured pole position today for Sunday's 52-lap Grand Prix of Road America on the seminal 4.048-mile permanent road course abutting the Village of Elkhart Lake.

Bourdais, who has started no lower than third in any Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford race in 2004 now sits on the point in his #2 McDonalds Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone championship- leading car for the fourth time this year, balancing the four wins he's already toted.

Turning a lap of 103.046 seconds (141.420mph), Bourdais pipped Jimmy Vasser's quick lap of the day in the #12 Gulfstream Lola of 103.374 seconds (140.972mph) by 3/10ths over this long, fast track.

"It's always a relief when you have a good car to take pole position," Bourdais admitted. "We were fast on used tires this morning and on Friday we could never put a lap together. We knew the car was good so we tried again today" and succeeded in showing the turn 14 clocks just what he could do.

Vasser believes his car "has been pretty good all weekend" and, after being two pounds light in Friday post-qualifying inspection could just shrug his shoulders and ask, "What are you going to do? We're in the process of building this team up and we've been running good since we unloaded."

Both avoided trouble with two red flags once again, the first caused by a spin at Canada Corner by Mario Dominguez' #55 Herdez Competition Lola, a move that planted the Mexican 15th on the 18-car grid.

By virtue of his fast lap on Friday, Ryan Hunter-Reay starts alongside Bourdais in the #4 Herdez Competition Lola. The young American worked more on race setup day, comparing old with new tires and was sixth in final qualifying at 103.995 seconds (140.130mph), slightly off his marker of 103.909 seconds (140.246mph) set in Friday afternoon's warmer and sunnier conditions.

With Bourdais and Hunter-Reay on the front row tomorrow and three green- flag stops mandated before lap 44 in the 52-lap contest, interest lies in row #2, shared by an upbeat Vasser and Bruno Junqueira's #6 PacifiCare Lola after the Brazilian took the third quickest lap of the day at 103.606 seconds (140.656mph).

Patrick Carpentier improved on his Friday time in the #7 Indeck Lola and will start fifth tomorrow. Confessing he was "pushing real hard" to gain his lap of 103.753 seconds (140.457mph), Carpentier thinks he's in the catbird seat for a "pretty good inside start for corner 1." Sporting a new set of Bridgestone Potenza race tires for his first stint, Carpentier agreed that "everybody will burn their push-to-pass" 60 seconds of 50- horsepower extra per race competitors can use.

The long straights at Road America require good brakes, too and it's possible Paul Tracy might have used up some of his with two offs in the final qualifying session, the latter of which ended the competition a bit over three minutes early. Tossing his #1 Indeck Lola off the 14-turn track and into the final turn's kitty litter Tracy said, "Both days I haven't been able to get it right. I've had slower traffic both times on my fast lap and trying to make it up," he threw it off.

The upshot is that Tracy starts sixth after posting an early Saturday qualifying lap of 103.933 seconds (140.213mph), up from 14th on Friday. Rookie A.J. Allmendinger, the Canadian's protégé who drives the #10 BG Products/Red Bull Lola hoisted himself into seventh grid position with his Saturday lap of 104.058 seconds (140.045mph) as he improves with every session. Even so Allmendinger claimed he was "a little disappointed with seventh. We had a good car and a real change to be fourth or fifth but I just didn't get as smooth a lap as I wanted."

Eighth on the grid goes to Oriol Servia's #11 Lola with his lap of 104.105 seconds (139.982mph), an improvement of a second from his Friday best lap. Justin Wilson starts ninth in the #34 Mi-Jack Lola after lapping this very European-style road course at 104.463 seconds (139.502mph). Rodolfo Lavin earned tenth grid spot after a clean second qualifying session where he turned 104.663 seconds (139.235mph) in the #3 Corona Lola.

Michel Jourdain Jr. holds 11th grid slot in the #9 Gigante Lola, Mario Haberfeld starts the #5 Cummins Inc. Reynard 12th, while Alex Tagliani managed to get some laps in today with his repaired #8 Johnson Controls Lola and starts 13th (105.172sec/138.562mph). Roberto Gonzalez lines up the #21 Nextel Lola 14th, followed by Dominguez.

Rookie Guy Smith lines up 16th in the #17 Rocketsports Lola, while Alex Sperafico (#14 Mi-Jack Reynard) and Gaston Mazzacane's #19 American Medical Response Lola bring up the rear.

The Champ Cars' 23rd race at Elkhart Lake's Road America is set to take the green flags Sunday afternoon at 3PM EDT. Saturday's weather of cool, clouds and sun may be duplicated as temperatures are expected to stay in the mid-to-high 70s. There is only a 30 percent change of thunderstorms, but in this area of the world, you never know. Coverage of the Grand Prix of Road America starts at 2:30PM EDT on HDNet and at 4PM (all time zones) on Spike TV.

Will race #8 go to someone other than Sebastien Bourdais, Paul Tracy or Ryan Hunter-Reay? Leading the points chase going in, Bourdais only has to do what he's done all season long to pad that lead even further: drive a clean, safe race to pad his total over teammate Junqueira, Tracy, Carpentier and Tagliani.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gaston Mazzacane , Justin Wilson , Guy Smith , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Rodolfo Lavin , Roberto Gonzalez , Michel Jourdain