Bourdais breaks out in Brands Hatch as Newman/Haas rookie dominates in taking first Champ Car World Series victory KENT, England (May 5, 2003) -- Missed opportunities plagued what was a promising start to the rookie Champ Car season of...
Bourdais breaks out in Brands Hatch as Newman/Haas rookie dominates in taking first Champ Car World Series victory
KENT, England (May 5, 2003) -- Missed opportunities plagued what was a promising start to the rookie Champ Car season of reigning FIA International F3000 champion Sebastien Bourdais (#2 Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), taking away what he and his Newman/Haas Racing squad reckoned should have been at least one win if not two.
But on a sunny Monday afternoon at Brands Hatch, Bourdais shook off the ignominious start that saw him earn just six points in the first three races and romped to his first-ever victory in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, besting his Newman/Haas teammate Bruno Junqueira (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) by 7.835 seconds to win the London Champ Car Trophy.
Bourdais led 95 of the 165 trips around the tricky 1.192-mile Brands Hatch layout and paced the final 33 orbits to snare his first win in just his fourth career start. He became the first rookie to win since Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) took the checkered flag in Surfers Paradise last season, and moved into the lead in the series Rookie of the Year standings as well, sending a race-day crowd of nearly 40,000 fans home happy.
"I am very pleased about the win and especially to do it here in Europe where I won my first race," Bourdais said. "We should have won a couple earlier in the year and had troubles, so this is very satisfying for me and the team."
The race began as most of the other CART Champ Car World Series events have this season, with the field following polesitter Paul Tracy (#3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) to the first round of pit stops. Tracy took the lead from the pole and would immediately stretch his advantage to two seconds for the first 30 laps before Bourdais and Junqueira began reeling him back in.
Tracy and Bourdais would take their first pit stops a lap apart on Laps 55 and 56 respectively, and Bourdais would make the pass in the pits as his Newman/Haas Racing squad got the Frenchman out seven-tenths of a second quicker than Tracy, giving him the point on Lap 55.
The two would fight for the next 24 laps, running within a half-second of each other for most of the way before Alex Yoong (#11 Dale Coyne Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) ended a promising run with a trip into the tires at Druids Bend. Yoong had been having his best day since joining the Champ Car World Series and was threatening to reach the top 10 before his accident, which brought out the caution flag and bunched the field for a Lap 85 restart.
A few cars, including Alex Tagliani (#33 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) chose to pit under this caution, taking on fuel that would allow him to run richer than most of the field, but also forced him to make one more pit stop as the rules enacted for Brands Hatch called for two mandatory green-flag visits down Pit Lane.
Bourdais held serve on the restart over Tracy while Junqueira and the suddenly-racy Dominguez held down the third and fourth spots. That order would hold all the way to the second round of pit stops when a chink finally appeared in the blue-and-white armor of the series points leader.
Tracy's car brought warning calls from spotters as he headed for his second and final fuel stop as a light spray of fluid could be seen from the rear of his car. The team crossed its fingers and sent him back on course in pursuit of what would have been a record-tying fourth-consecutive win, only to see its race expire in a plume of engine smoke on Lap 118.
"I am pleased about moving up in the points but it wasn't that I wanted to see something bad happen to Paul [Tracy]," Junqueira said. "I am closer now but I know that if I want to win the championship I am going to have to pull a few wins out of the bag."
Tracy's retirement vaulted the off-sequence Tagliani into the lead where the Rocketsports Racing squad would lead its first laps of the year and the first for Tagliani since Chicago last season. Bourdais would slot into second, eight seconds in arrears of the leader, and simply waited patiently for the Rocketsports car to make its final stop.
That stop would come on Lap 132 and allow Bourdais to reclaim the lead over Junqueira and Dominguez, giving him a five-second cushion that he would carry over the remaining laps. Junqueira would slot comfortably into the runnerup spot, taking his best finish of the season, while Dominguez outlasted a furious charge from Oriol Servia (#20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola Bridgestone) to hold onto the third spot. Dominguez would earn his first podium since he won the rain-shortened Honda Indy 300 in Australia last season.
Servia would finally get a bit of luck after the early part of his season had seen a number of good chances frittered away, and ramble home in fourth while Patrick Carpentier (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) would round out the top five for his best finish of the 2003 campaign.
Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) would rebound from a time-consuming stall on his first stop to take the sixth spot in the order while Roberto Moreno (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) would place seventh. Tagliani would come back for and eighth-place run and his third straight top-10 while rookies Mario Haberfeld (#34 Mi-Jack/Conquest Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) and Darren Manning (#15 RAC/Walker Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) would round out the top 10.
Tracy ended his day scoreless in 17th, and allowed the rest of the field to take a bite into his series points lead. Junqueira's runner-up spot lopped 16 points off of Tracy's advantage and brought him to within 11 points of the lead while Jourdain closed to 23 points of the pacesetter.
Today's event can be seen in its entirety next Saturday on CBS Sports beginning at 1 p.m. Eastern Time, which leads into a full weekend of coverage as CBS will also show the German 500 from EuroSpeedway Lausitz on Sunday at 1 p.m.
TOP THREE FINISHERS QUOTES
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (#2 Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I knew coming in to the race that I really needed just to make it to the finish and score some points and I told myself that I was not going to bust my car up running like hell for the win, and it came to us anyway."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I was saving fuel for most of the day and just hoping that the pit stops fell my way. I am pleased about moving up in the points but it wasn't that I wanted to see something bad happen to Paul [Tracy]. I am closer now but I know that if I want to win the championship I am going to have to pull a few wins out of the bag."
MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "The team has worked very hard for this and I am very pleased with how things went today. This is probably more satisfying for me than the win in Australia because myself and the team had to earn it by running hard all day."
* Sebastien Bourdais became the fastest rookie to win a Champ Car event (Four races) since Scott Dixon and Juan Montoya, who each won in their third career starts.
* The podium finish for Mario Dominguez completed his first-ever run of consecutive top-five finishes.
* Paul Tracy led for the fourth straight event, marking the first time since the start of the 2000 season that Tracy has led in four consecutive events.
* Patrick Lemarie of PK Racing made the biggest move of the day, vaulting six spots from his grid position to finish 11th. Lemarie has scored points in three of his first four races in the Champ Car World Series.