Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Champ Car Notebook WHO'S HOT 2004 Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais ( ...
Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach Champ Car Notebook
2004 Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) starts the 2005 season with a streak of 15 consecutive top-three starts. En route to his first championship title, the Frenchman managed to lead the series in wins, poles, laps led and qualifying average.
Teammate to Bourdais, Bruno Junqueira (#2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) finished as the series runner-up for the third consecutive year, becoming the first driver in 30 years to accomplish that feat. Looking for that first championship, the fifth year Champ Car driver returns with Newman/Haas Racing for the 2005 season on an active streak of six consecutive podiums.
Mexican standout Mario Dominguez (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) starts his fourth season piloting a Champ Car and his first season driving under the Forsythe Championship Racing banner. He comes off a career-best fifth-place finish in the 2004 standings and looks to be a strong contender in this year's title fight.
Oriol Servia (#19 Dale Coyne Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) returns to Dale Coyne Racing after handing the team its first top-10 season finish. The Spaniard scored eight top-10 runs, scored the team's first podium since 1996 and its first top-five qualifying run since 1998.
2004 was an outstanding season for A.J. Allmendinger (#11 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) who was crowned Roshfrans Rookie of the Year in 200. The American finished the season scoring top-six finishes in five of the year's final six races, finishing the season on the podium in Mexico city.
Moving to Team Australia for the upcoming term, Canadian Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) will look to continue the positive momentum coming off his best Champ Car season, which saw him record his first Champ Car victory at Road America.
Turning heads from the moment he stepped into the cockpit of a Champ Car for the very first time, former Formula One driver Timo Glock (#8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has demonstrated top speed and skills during the pre-season tests in the second entry for Rocketsports Racing. He will team up with veteran, and two-time race winner Ryan Hunter-Reay (#31 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone).
ON THE RIGHT TRACK
The winningest active driver in Champ Car and Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) returned to the streets of Long Beach to defend his 2003 win putting on a dominant performance leading 78 of the 81 laps to capture his fourth Grand Prix of Long Beach victory.
Junqueira started last season strong grabbing the pole position for last year's Grand Prix of Long Beach. Finishing second marked the start of a season that would see him on the podium a total of 10 times out of 14 races in 2004.
Justin Wilson (#9 RuSPORT Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) made a strong debut to the Champ Car World Series by making up the most positions from his starting spot in the Grand Prix of Long Beach, climbing from 11th to sixth, finishing as the highest-placing rookie in the event.
American veteran Jimmy Vasser (#12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) has seen his share of time in the spotlight taking a Grand Prix of Long Beach win in 1996 en route to his championship title. He also captured the pole position for the event in 2002.
DID YOU KNOW
Now in its 31st year, the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach continues to stand tall as American's longest running and most recognizable street race. The three-day event features the Champ Cars, the Toyota Atlantic Championship, Trans-Am Series, Formula D, and the world-famous Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race. This event usually attracts a packed house of race fans and celebrities to its challenging 1.968-mile street circuit over three days.
This year's Champ Car field will feature four past Champ Car World Series champions. 2004 champ Sebastien Bourdais, 2003 champ Paul Tracy, 2002 champ Cristiano da Matta (#21 PKV Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), and 1996 champ Jimmy Vasser will compete against one another and 14 other drivers in a battle to reclaim the ultimate prize, the Vanderbilt Cup.
The streets of Long Beach have been good to Paul Tracy through the years. The Canadian recorded his first of 28 Champ Car career wins in Long Beach in 1993, added another in 2000, and scored back-to-back wins in 2003 and 2004.
Walker Racing announced the formation of Team Australia Racing with two Australian business men campaigning a two car team entry in the 2005 season. Australian Marcus Marshall (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Canadian Alex Tagliani (who coincidentally is married to an Australian) will drive the team's number 5 and 15 race cars.
This year, Champ Car has made an alliance with Formula D. "Drifting", the hottest new addition to the world motorsports scene will be slipping and sliding on the streets of Long Beach, and are scheduled to make appearances at other upcoming Champ Car events, such as Cleveland and San Jose.
BY THE NUMBERS
17 -- Starting position of Paul Tracy which resulted in a win in 2000. 14 -- Number of consecutive Long Beach starts for Jimmy Vasser, Champ Car's active leader in Most Consecutive Starts, when he starts the 2005 race. 11 -- Number of the most lead changes during the race in 1998. 8 -- Number of times the winner of the Grand Prix of Long Beach went on to win the championship. 6 -- Number of times the race has been won from the pole position. Also the most number of times the same driver has won the Grand Prix of Long Beach, Al Unser Jr. (1988-1991, 1994-1995). 5 -- Number of times the Grand Prix of Long Beach's circuit has changed.
* Rodolfo Lavin (Lah-VEEN)
* Sebastien Bourdais (Boor-DAY)
* Bruno Junqueira (Joon-KEY-air-ah)
* Alex Tagliani (Tag-lee-AH-nee)
* Oriol Servia (SIR-vee-ah)
* Nelson Philippe (Fill-EEP)
WHAT: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
WHERE: Long Beach, California
WHEN: Friday-Sunday, April 8-10
SUPPORT EVENTS: Toyota Atlantic, Trans-Am
CHAMP CAR SCHEDULE (All times local):
FRIDAY, APRIL 8
9:30 -- 10:00 a.m., Atlantic practice
10:15 -- 11:30 a.m., Champ Car practice
12:30 -- 1:00 p.m., Trans-Am practice
1:15 -- 1:45 p.m., Atlantic qualifying
2:00 -- 3:00 p.m., Champ Car qualifying
4:15 -- 4:45 p.m., Trans-Am practice.
SATURDAY, APRIL 9
9:00 -- 9:30 a.m., Atlantic practice
9:45 -- 10:15 a.m., Trans-Am qualifying
10:30 -- 11:30 a.m., Champ Car practice
1:15 -- 1:45 p.m., Atlantic qualifying
2:00 -- 3:00 p.m., Champ Car qualifying
4:00 -- 4:15 p.m., Trans-Am final practice.
SUNDAY, APRIL 10
8:00 -- 8:15 a.m., Atlantic warmup
9:00 -- 9:30 a.m., Champ Car warmup
10:30 -- 11:30 a.m., Atlantic race
1:00 p.m., START OF LONG BEACH GRAND PRIX, 81 Laps
3:15 -- 5:00 p.m., Trans-Am race.
U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE:
SUNDAY, APRIL 10 -- Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, NBC, 4 p.m. (live)
2004 CHAMPION: Paul Tracy
2004 POLESITTER: Bruno Junqueira
TRACK LAYOUT: 1.968-mile temporary street course
RACE LENGTH: 81 laps, 159.408 miles
Qualifying (one lap) -- 2000, Gil de Ferran, 104.969 mph (1:07.494).
Race -- 2004,Paul Tracy, 91.785 mph (1:44:12.348) based on 81 laps (159.408 miles)
RACE ROUND: 1 of 14 in the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.
EVENT HISTORY: Paul Tracy used the new Cosworth push-to-pass button at the drop of the green flag to rocket past front-row starters Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais, moving from third to first as the field hit the first turn. From there it was just a matter of time as Tracy paced 78 of 81 laps to earn his fourth Long Beach victory, making him just the second driver in Champ Car history to win as many as four times in Long Beach. Junqueira came on to finish second while eventual series champion Bourdais rounded out the podium. Justin Wilson debuted in the series with Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing and finished an impressive sixth, marking the highest finish of any driver that would make their series debut in 2004. Nelson Philippe finished 13th for Rocketsports and at age 17 years, 8 months and 25 days, became the youngest driver to ever start a series race.