TWO-TIME DEFENDING CHAMP CAR CHAMPION SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS PACES FIRST-DAY QUALIFYING AT GRAND PRIX OF EDMONTON EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada (July 21, 2006) Sebastien Bourdais ( ...
TWO-TIME DEFENDING CHAMP CAR CHAMPION SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS PACES FIRST-DAY QUALIFYING AT GRAND PRIX OF EDMONTON
EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada (July 21, 2006) Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) had the worst road-course starting spot of his three-year Champ Car career in his last visit to Edmonton, starting 10th before climbing through the field to win the race.
The two-time defending Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion made his life a lot easier this time around, securing himself a front-row starting spot for Sunday's West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix Presented by The Brick by leading the first round of qualifying on a sunny Friday at JAGflo Speedway as a crowd of 47,932 gathered to see the stars of the Champ Car World Series.
Bourdais ran three laps that would have captured the first-day pole, but only needed one of them to score the day's victory. His best lap of 59.895 seconds (118.588 mph) earned him the right to start in the front row and also added another championship point to his series-leading total, boosting his lead to 24 over second-placed A.J. Allmendinger (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone).
Perhaps more impressive was the fact that Bourdais blistered the field without using his red-walled Bridgestone alternate Potenzas, saving two sets of the softer-compound tires for use in tomorrow's final qualifying. Bourdais' best lap gave him the top spot by .172 seconds over local favorite Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who settled for second among those that tested the 1.973-mile circuit today. Third place went to Bruno Junqueira (#2 Hole In The Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who snared the third spot on his last lap of the day, stopping the clocks at 60.085 seconds (118.213 mph)
Allmendinger led the bulk of the field on track eight minutes into the session and immediately set his sights on Nelson Philippe (#4 CTE Racing; HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), as Philippe was the quickest among those that went on track as soon as the 30-minute session got underway. Bourdais, Tracy, Junqueira and Cristiano da Matta (#10 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) quickly followed the Californian on track, but would all go back to Pit Lane shortly after as Allmendinger found the Turn One wall.
The Forsythe Championship Racing pilot wiggled coming into the high-speed first turn, then did a half-spin and backed into the wall, taking the rear wing off his car and ending his qualifying session. The winner of the last three Champ Car events would end up in the 17th spot but will have a second session tomorrow to improve his starting spot.
He fared better than Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year points leader Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who was unable to compete in today's qualifying after a damaging crash in the pre-qualifying practice session. Power spun coming through the final chicane and slid through the infield grass, hitting the safety barrier and damaging his Team Australia mount. Power did not card a time in Friday's qualifying but expects to be available for tomorrow's final session.
Tracy did use his alternate Bridgestone Potenzas for his second stint and quickly moved to the top spot on his fourth lap. Bourdais waited until late in his second stint to hang his best laps, taking the pole on his 10th pass and carding his best time on his 13th trip around the 14-turn circuit. Junqueira vaulted ahead of Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) on his final lap, dropping Wilson to fourth while his RuSPORT teammate da Matta scored the fifth spot with a time of 60.412 seconds (117.573 mph).
Philippe ended up sixth on the day while his CTE Racing; HVM teammate Dan Clarke (#14 CTE Racing; HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) overcame a couple of off-track excursions to score the seventh position on the first-day grid. The PKV Racing duo of Oriol Servia (#6 Bell Micro/Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Katherine Legge (#20 Gulfstream/Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) finished eighth and tenth respectively while rookie Charles Zwolsman (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) split the PKV pair with a time of 61.393 seconds (115.694 mph) to finish ninth.
The grid will be set with final qualifying tomorrow, with the 30-minute session getting underway at 2 p.m. Mountain Time.
QUOTES FROM THE TOP THREE QUALIFIERS:
Sebastien Bourdais: Not ideal yet, but we're still working on a few different changes. I think we'll get it right. It's just a matter of trying to get some testing. Obviously, this morning was a pretty short session with all the red flags. We didn't make as much progress as we would have liked to. In the end, pretty happy with the way things went in this qualifying session. It's good to get this point and this front row start. We'll try and get it better to keep A.J. behind us.
Paul Tracy: Obviously, they've smoothed the track out a little bit. Some of the big bumps that were in the last chicane that made it very difficult, they're not there. There's a couple of bumps over in all the twisty corners in turns six, seven, eight. They've smoothed those out a little bit. It's not as tough as it was last year, but still very fast, very unforgiving. If you make a small error on your turn-in, you miss the line, you're flying off the track at 130 miles an hour.
Bruno Junqueira: Being top three is great for my first time on the track. I picked up the track quite fast, although is a difficult track. After all my years racing in Formula 3000, had to learn the track pretty fast. I had that ability. It's very nice to be on top three on the first day to see this track.