McDONALD'S DRIVER BOURDAIS EARNED SECOND WIN OF SEASON AT WEST EDMONTON MALL GRAND PRIX; PACIFICARE DRIVER SERVIA MADE IT A 1-2 FINISH FOR TEAM - McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais made the most of a trouble-free day to vault from his 10th...
McDONALD'S DRIVER BOURDAIS EARNED SECOND WIN OF SEASON AT WEST EDMONTON MALL GRAND PRIX; PACIFICARE DRIVER SERVIA MADE IT A 1-2 FINISH FOR TEAM
- McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais made the most of a trouble-free day to vault from his 10th place start to his second win of the season while other front runners made mistakes or succumbed to carnage in the 88-lap inaugural West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton on the temporary 14-turn Finning International Raceway. He became only the second driver to win more than one race in seven events this season and increased his pre-race lead of 15 points over second place Paul Tracy in the championship to 21 while capping the first 1-2 finish for Newman/Haas Racing since the 2004 season finale.
An accident during qualifying on Friday and slower conditions due to rain earlier in the day on Saturday not only limited him to a 10th place start, it also took away one of the two sets of softer, red alternate Bridgestone tires due to damage during the accident. Prior to the race, the field estimated the red tires provided between five-tenths of a second to seven-tenths therefore Bourdais would have to deal with the handicap. He started the event on the harder regular compound Bridgestone's but was able to pass the cars of Timo Glock, Mario Dominguez, and Jimmy Vasser that were on the 'reds' in the first three laps.
On Lap 6 he moved into sixth place when Cristiano da Matta pitted with a mechanical problem and began hot pursuit of Alex Tagliani and was able to pass him on Lap 11 in Turn 1 for fifth. He held the position behind teammate Oriol Servia for the ensuing laps until the field made their first pit stops during the first caution period to remove the car of Jimmy Vasser who spun in Turn 6 and stopped in the grass. The McDonald's team performed a quick pit stop and installed his lone set of alternate tires, a full fuel load and made a wing adjustment quickly but Tagliani's team possibly short-filled his fuel as the Canadian got out ahead of Bourdais. Champ Car attempted to restart the race but it immediately went yellow again as they deemed leader Paul Tracy was not at the proper speed.
The race went green again on Lap 30 and Bourdais held sixth place behind Tagliani who was dropping back from the leaders as the race progressed. As Bourdais was unable to get past Tagliani the team elected to change his fuel strategy in order to save as much fuel as possible to pit later than the frontrunners and thus possibly gain positions.
On Lap 53 race leader Justin Wilson made his final pit stop and Bourdais moved into fifth place. Once Paul Tracy, A.J. Allmendinger and Alex Tagliani pit a few laps later Bourdais assumed the lead on Laps 60-62 before he made his final stop on Lap 62 and returned to the track barely ahead of teammate Servia in third place to leader Allmendinger and second place Wilson. Allmendinger had a 19 second lead on Bourdais but the Frenchman attempted to begin closing the gap but a caution flag on Lap 75 of 88 for rookie Bjorn Wirdheim did the job.
While under caution with one lap to go before the race was restarted, Wilson spun and lost six spots before the restart on Lap 79 thus moving Bourdais into second place. He held his position on the restart before taking over the lead when Allmendinger hit the wall in Turn 8 before driving into the runoff area in Turn 11 and subsequently pitted with damage. Bourdais held on to lead the final nine laps and earn his second win of the season. He earned 31 laps for the victory and one for leading to increase his pre-race lead over second place Tracy from 15 to 21 after Round 7 of 14.
Following are his post race comments:
"It feels great to finally bring a win for the McDonald's team," said Bourdais. "If there's one point and one moment to be up there in the media center, it's at the end of the race. I can't be any happier than that. It feels really good to bring a first 1 and 2 in this 2005 season with Oriol. We obviously miss Bruno quite a bit. But Oriol and myself are doing a very good job and we just still going to try and bring the thing home to Newman/Haas Racing. Well, it was obviously a pretty unexpected win today. I really thought I was going to score a top five."
"I knew we had the speed because this morning we were the fastest car in warm-up. The first practice, we were the fastest. So when we had an opportunity to show what kind of speed we had, we were right there. It's not easy to go by people. I think we've seen that. So I wasn't expecting it. You know, I take it for sure. As Paul said, it's been a first-class event. It's just pure joy to win this first race here. I really couldn't believe it when I saw under yellow Justin spinning in front of me and then AJ making a really small mistake. It was just as it has been for me on Friday in qualifying, I just brushed the wall. I know how it feels to chase your first win and not achieve that. It happened to me the first two starts in 2003. I'm sure he's devastated. He probably deserved this one, he was fast all weekend long."
"You know, we just pretty much collected ourselves today and just made a mistake-free race, just took the benefits of everybody's mistakes. It's too bad, but that's the way it is. We knew as a consequence people were going to make mistakes. When you get tired, lose your concentration and vigilance, then what happens is you make mistakes. Yeah, some people are going to spin it. Some people are going to stuff it in a wall, because there were quite a few opportunities to do that here. We just decided to maybe go slightly slower when we felt that -- both Oriol and I think when we saw we couldn't play any harder than that, you just have to play with what you've got. That's what we did. We had a pretty trouble-free race and that paid off big time."
- PacifiCare driver Oriol Servia again matched his best finish of second place in the inaugural 88-lap West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton and brought the team its first 1-2 finish since the 2004 season finale in Mexico City. He started the event in fourth place and led two laps while cycling further in his pit sequence and earned the fourth podium finish in five races with Newman/Haas Racing. He started the event on one of his two sets of red alternate Bridgestone tires and held his fourth place position until his first pit stop on Lap 27 during the caution period to remove the car of Jimmy Vasser.
The PacifiCare team installed a set of regular Bridgestone tires and full fuel load and he returned to the track in the same position. Champ Car officials attempted to restart the race but the caution flag came out again as leader Paul Tracy was deemed to not be in at the proper speed. Once it was restarted on Lap 30, he held fourth until leader Justin Wilson made his second pit stop on Lap 53 and up into the lead on Laps 58-59 when the rest of the frontrunners pitted while he stretched his fuel load.
After Bourdais made his final stop one lap later, he returned to the track immediately in front of Servia who was slightly held up by Nelson Philippe and was unable to gain the position and remained in fourth. Both Bourdais and Servia trailed the first two cars of A.J. Allmendinger and Justin Wilson by approx. 20 seconds but that changed when the pace car came out to slow the field for a caution period for Bjorn Wirdheim who made contact.
As the field prepared for a shootout on the restart in one lap second place runner Justin Wilson spun and dropped six positions and Servia moved into third. The race was restarted on Lap 79 of 88 and Servia moved into second place when leader Allmendinger hit the wall in Turn 8 before driving into the runoff area in Turn 11 and subsequently pitted with damage.
The race continued without a caution period and Servia trailed Bourdais for the ensuing laps and finished second to Bourdais by .596-seconds to earn his fourth second place finish and ninth podium in his Champ Car Career. He earned 27 points for his second place finish and one for leading the event and moved from fifth place in the championship standings to fourth with a total of 135 points to leader Bourdais 182 (-47). Following are Servia's post race comments:
"I'm actually quite happy for the PacifiCare team," said Servia. "In Toronto, you saw I wasn't that happy with my second place because for a while I thought I was going to win it. This one, I mean, all weekend we were almost up there, but definitely the RuSPORT guys were faster. During the race I knew was going to be a little bit of a survival game. Being mistake-free was probably going to bring me a podium after starting fourth."
"At the end, me and Sebastien were very close. Obviously, I wasn't going to try anything stupid. He was mistake-free all those laps in front of me so I had nothing to do. I wanted to put some pressure on Sebastien. He did some very clean laps at the end, very fast. It's a strong result for the PacifiCare car. It wasn't easy not to make mistakes. It was really, really hard not to make one today, really difficult. It's really challenging track. I think the most challenging place I ever been."
"After the last stops, honestly I was a little frustrated because I run into Nelson Philippe those two or three laps that I knew it was going to be crucial. I actually didn't know exactly it was going to be Sebastien (coming out of the pits). But I knew we were pitting on different laps, me, Sebastien, Paul, all those different guys. I knew those middle laps were crucial. I was on cold tires. Nelson was not. I was trying to get past him, but he was a lap down. I just couldn't. Just when he let me, I saw him going out. You know, it's very easy to make a mistake. You know, I obviously tried, but he was ahead, so there's not much I could do. I tried later in that lap."
- Attendance in Edmonton - three-day total of 200,052 people attended the inaugural West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton. Friday's total was 55,722 while the total of Saturday was 66,250 and Sunday was 78,080.
- Up Next - The inaugural Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose, Round 8 of 14, will take place in two weeks.