Faulty gearbox robs Jourdain of his first Champ Car win. LONG BEACH, CA . . . Michel Jourdain Jr. drove a brilliant race and appeared headed for his first Champ Car win when a faulty gearbox left the Gigante car stranded in the pits just six...
Faulty gearbox robs Jourdain of his first Champ Car win.
LONG BEACH, CA . . . Michel Jourdain Jr. drove a brilliant race and appeared headed for his first Champ Car win when a faulty gearbox left the Gigante car stranded in the pits just six laps from the checkered flag.
Jourdain starting from the pole for the first time in his eight-year Champ Car career lost the lead to Paul Tracy on a poorly aligned start but he reclaimed the lead on lap 27 and proceeded to lead a race high 48 laps.
Jourdain was clearly the class of the field consistently pulling away from points leader Paul Tracy on several occasions and building a lead of nearly forty seconds over third place heading into the final of his three mandated pit stops.
When Jourdain pitted the gearbox failed and the Gigante car never returned to the track. The crew tried in vain to push start the car but the day was over for Jourdain and his crew.
Jourdain would finish 15th and subsequently falls to third in the Champ Car Championship (34 points) behind race winner and series points leader Paul Tracy (64 points) and Bruno Junqueira (38 points).
"I don't know if this is the best or the worst day of my life," said Jourdain. "It is by far the best car I have ever had and it was just real easy to pull away from everybody. I was really disappointed on the start. I am not sure what they [Champ Car] were thinking because it was like Paul was in the lead when they threw the green flag, but after that we were able to save fuel and come in a lap later than him and we pulled a big gap. Even when the yellows tried to destroy our strategy we were so fast that we were ok. I don't know if we had a problem with the clutch or what was the problem, but I just couldn't get it in gear at the end. Tomorrow I will start to think about the next race but today I will think about this race. It is terrible when everything goes so perfect and you don't win. Days like this don't happen very often. This is the first time it has happened in 123 races for me. I did everything right and the crew did everything right it just wasn't meant to happen. I know I will have a good car all year long and I know that we will have more days like this. That win is going to come soon for sure."
"These are the days when you shake your head and say why me," said Bobby Rahal "I am so proud of the job Michel did this weekend. He drove an outstanding race and he and the crew never made a mistake all weekend long. I really feel for Michel because there was no doubt he was the class of the field and that he had the fastest car. Even Tracy said he couldn't catch Michel and that says a lot. I know Michel is hurting right now but he will be back and it is only a matter of time until he gets that first win."
Jourdain and the Gigante team will be back on track Tuesday at Portland International Raceway as preparations continue for the rest of the season. The Champ Car World Series will return to the track on May 3rd at historic Brands Hatch in Kent, England.