CHAMPCAR/CART: Bourdais takes inaugural Zolder pole position

Historical Belgian Circuit Zolder, also known as Circuit Terlaemen, produced a pole position for the three-time Champ Car World Series champion for Sunday's inaugural Champ Car race. Sebastian Bourdais ...

Historical Belgian Circuit Zolder, also known as Circuit Terlaemen, produced a pole position for the three-time Champ Car World Series champion for Sunday's inaugural Champ Car race.

Sebastian Bourdais #1 McDonalds qualified for his 30th pole today with a time of 1 minute 12.821 seconds on the rolling 2.622-mile (3.977-km) circuit, albeit challenged by traffic to find the "sweet spot" on his red tires. "It was a little harder than I thought, but we got a little bit of traffic and I made a couple of mistakes and didn't hit the tires when they were at their best. I am just glad that it was sufficient today. But it was a little stressful until the very end -- I was on the limit."

Bourdais is racing towards his fourth championship with the series before he embarks on a new phase of his racing career.

Will Power #5 Aussie Vineyards is currently third in points and secured the second qualifying spot as he chases his rivals for a chance at the coveted Vanderbilt Cup. The Aussie Vineyards team used the red tires yesterday to guarantee a front row start. "We decided not to use them today to save a set for the race." Power believes the circuit is much quicker due to the amount of rubber they have been able to lay down during their practice sessions, adding that they were "thinking of tomorrow -- we need to win a race and everything has played out exactly as I wanted, no problem."

Rounding out the top three, Robert Doornbos #14 Team Minardi was unable to turn a single lap on the famed circuit yesterday due to engine failure. "In the past, I would have been really upset and the weekend would have been a disaster already. You (speaking of himself) are more professional, more experienced and you just have the confidence that you are good enough and the team is good enough."

Doornbos, second in points, is chasing Bourdais and is holding the top spot for rookie of the year. Doornbos commended the promoter for doing a fantastic job with this race event. "It is a great circuit, it's lots of fun to drive, and fortunately we got a few good laps in today's session." Doornbos hopes for a better outcome than the last time he started third on the grid in Road America where he had contact with his teammate "Speedy" Dan Clarke. "I want to thank all of my supporters and fans...and we'll do our best to give them a good show tomorrow."

Fourth place for tomorrow's race was wheeled in by Bruno Junqueira #19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q. "This is the best starting position we have had all year and I hope to make the most of it in the race tomorrow. Junqueira commented that he "really likes this track and is hoping for a top three finish in the race."

Justin Wilson #9 CDW is pleased to have secured fifth place but is hoping to find more speed for the race. Wilson said the car was qualifying "pretty good". He lost some time on his last lap in the second and third chicane and found it quite frustrating. He felt that he should have been a bit quicker and placed higher in the grid.

"Overall, I am pleased with the progress, especially considering the late start yesterday. Hopefully the race is going to be good. Hopefully we can stay out of trouble, have some good pit stops, and see if we can make the car a little bit quicker yet," said the Brit. "It is definitely a tight track, so we need to be a little bit quicker and good on fuel mileage and go from there."

Alex Tagliani #8 Rocketsports was happy with his sixth qualifying spot and felt that the team put forth a good effort. "Overall, I think the #8 Rocketsports car is good for the race. We just have to get a good strategy and we should be all right." Tagliani believes that they will have an amazing race with the car that they have as well as the top six cars being so close together in their lap times.

"A frustrating session" is how Paul Tracy #3 Indeck explained his qualifying run after placing seventh. They were lucky to have gone out early in the first phase of qualifying and were able to lay down a quick lap. With a few minutes left, they re-entered the circuit to traffic and encountered (Tristan) Gommendy who was in front of Tracy. "I kept catching him (Gommendy) every time I tried to go fast and just couldn't put a lap together. Our car is good. It's nice to know that we are in the ballpark."

Rookies Simon Pagenaud #15 Aussie Vineyards fills the eighth grid position and was unable to improve his time from yesterday's qualifying while Neel Jani #21 Red Bull - Gulfstream in the ninth position on grid improved his time by over a second from the previous day.

Brussels native Jan Heylen #34 Grafiprint emerged eleventh after a crash Friday that left him unable to participate. Heylen's crew worked into the night to repair the damage to the car. "The guys worked very hard on the car last night and they know what they are doing so this morning when I got in the car I knew it was going to be ready for today's sessions...we are not too far off the pace but I am definitely a little disappointed."

Heylen, who is sporting a new custom-designed paint scheme, is looking forward to racing in front of a hometown crowd tomorrow.

Mario Dominquez is in the #4 Minardi car after Champ Car Officials told "Speedy" Dan Clarke to park the car after questionable driving which caused a four car pile up on the opening session in Zolder. Stepping into the car for the first time, the native of Mexico qualified 12th.

"I'm very happy to have the opportunity to drive for Minardi Team USA. I've suffered a little bit from not running yesterday, but the more laps I do, the better I get. I think I have a strong racecar to get to the front tomorrow and I will do my best to get the result that the team deserves. It's been a busy weekend driving the two-seater and the Champ Car, but I'm enjoying it to the max."

Completing the grid for tomorrow's Champ Car Grand Prix of Belgium, Graham Rahal #2 Medi Zone is thirteenth, Katherine Legge #11 Dale Coyne Racing is fourteenth, Tristian Gommendy #22 Pay By Touch - MegaSpirea is fifteenth.

The final two positions are held by teammates from the Pacific Coast Motorsports team Ryan Dalziel #28 and Alex Figge #29 respectively. Dalziel stated "Today's sessions did not go so well, we had a carload of problems" from the headrest falling off to a bolt coming loose on his sticker run. "I am hoping for a better session tomorrow. Dalziel quipped "the only problem here is we have to pay to go to the bathroom and its getting expensive!"

With the Champ Car World Series first visit to Europe since 2003 many trials and tribulations of the sport have been encountered by the drivers and their teams. The dynamics of the race track will prove to be the rise and fall of the competitors tomorrow.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Justin Wilson , Bruno Junqueira , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Mario Dominguez , Robert Doornbos , Katherine Legge , Alex Figge , Jan Heylen , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud , Dale Coyne , Dan Clarke
Teams Dale Coyne Racing