BULLFIGHT IN MEXICO -- TEAM FORSYTHE'S PAUL TRACY AND MARIO DOMINGUEZ HAVE WILD DAY IN MEXICO CITY MEXICO CITY, Mexico -- November 6, 2005 -- In a chaotic event marked by passes, penalties and punts, Forsythe Championship Racing matadors Paul...
BULLFIGHT IN MEXICO -- TEAM FORSYTHE'S PAUL TRACY AND MARIO DOMINGUEZ HAVE WILD DAY IN MEXICO CITY
MEXICO CITY, Mexico -- November 6, 2005 -- In a chaotic event marked by passes, penalties and punts, Forsythe Championship Racing matadors Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone) and Mario Dominguez (#7 Roshfrans/Indeck Lola/Ford-Cosworth/Bridgestone) locked horns with the best drivers in the world at the final event of the 2005 season as Bridgestone presents the Champ Car World Series powered by Ford, Round 14 at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in the heart of Mexico City. It was a mix of sweet and sour as Tracy came from deep in the field not once but twice to score an astonishing third place finish while home town hero Mario Dominguez thrilled the Mexico City fans with a stirring drive to a podium position only to be gored out of contention by German rookie Timo Glock late in the event.
For Tracy, who started the race from fourth on the grid alongside nemesis Sebastian Bourdais, the race was one of the most challenging of his career. At the start of the 70-lap Telmex/Tecate Grand Prix of Mexico presented by Banamex, he was hit from behind by guess who -- Bourdais -- cutting a tire and forcing him to limp around the entire track and pit for new Bridgestones. Falling to the very back of the grid and over half a lap behind the leaders, the aggressive Canadian veteran caught up to the pack and passed several cars before the team decided to call him in early for his first pit stop.
"We felt he was being held up by slower cars" commented VP of Operations Neil Micklewright, "so we called him in to try and get him some space on the track to turn quicker laps. When you do that, you also have a chance to move up if a caution period comes out before the other cars make their pit stops, and we got lucky."
Sure enough, just one lap after Tracy's strategic pit stop, rookie Ronnie Bremer crashed hard on the back side of the track, bringing out a timely Yellow Flag. Champ Car rules call for the field to bunch up before the pits open, so Tracy and Rodolfo Lavin (who had pitted at the same time as Tracy) were able to close up during the caution period and moved past the entire field as they went to pit lane. Lavin had the lead with Tracy just behind as they went back to green. Tracy made a stellar restart and got in front of Lavin going into Turn 1, but Lavin held his ground and the two drivers came together causing Lavin to spin and Tracy to lose momentum. Justin Wilson was able to make the best of the situation and squeezed past into the lead. Tracy was then pressured by A.J. Allmendinger on the following straight but moved over with an ill-advised blocking move to hold on to second.
Race Control determined that the move was outside the rules and called Tracy in for a drive-through penalty, relegating the fiery veteran to the very back of the field once again (Tracy agreed the blocking move was inappropriate and the penalty justified after the race). >From that point on, Tracy put his head down and picked his way through the field. A late race shuffle that involved Cristiano da Matta and Sebastien Bourdais ending their days in the Turn 1 gravel trap promoted Tracy to fifth place behind Timo Glock and Oriol Servia. When the green flag came back out following the Turn 1 cleanup, Tracy used his Power to Pass button (a button on the steering wheel that provides 50 extra horsepower, limited for this event to 180 seconds of application per driver) to charge past both Servia and Glock and lay claim to third place, a spot he would hold to the finish.
"Today was pretty odd, a frustrating day that still managed to turn out good for us" said Tracy after the race. "Sebastien touched me in the first corner, and that put two cuts in the sidewall of my right rear tire. I had made a good start, got by A.J. and was in second place. We came in and changed it but were more than half a lap behind the field. I was driving hard, catching up, catching up. We pitted a bit early and then a yellow came out at the perfect time, which really played into our hands. On the restart with Rodolfo, I made the restart better than him and got by him. He made a big dive bomb to try to get back by. We were fighting and ended up touching. That kind of led into me blocking AJ on the track and trying to keep him behind me. Then there was a drive-through penalty."
"After that, I pretty much thought we were out of it. Again, we were three-quarters of a lap behind everybody. I was driving, running a good pace, and started to catch up. We got a couple lucky yellows at the end. I had a lot of 'push to pass' left, and on the last restart when we went back to green both Glock and Servia didn't get off the final corner well. Glock didn't have any 'push to pass' left. Servia had some, but I probably had about 30 seconds more than him. I got a good drive off the corner, perfect draft, was by them halfway down the straightaway. Really just the perfect restart. That put me in third place and a good result."
Mario Dominguez had a less eventful day, but ran with the leaders after starting in sixth spot and moved up, passing Oriol Servia cleanly in the last half of the race to take third spot. Glock also passed Servia and closed on Dominguez, making a couple of passing attempts before trying a risky move that brought the two cars into contact. Dominguez spun and stalled his engine, causing him to fall well down the field before he could get back underway. He eventually moved up to 12th by the checkered flag.
"I'm really disappointed" commented a dejected Dominguez after the race. "Timo was using all his Power to Pass to try and get by me, but that was pretty much a dive-bomb move he made when we came together. It was very late and he had to know I had no place to go, but that's racing. But I must say the fans were great and it was terrific to hear them cheering me after the race. It was good to be running at the front with a podium in my sights here in my hometown, so despite my frustration I'm going to try and have a good time tonight at the year-end banquet."
Paul Tracy finished the season in fourth place after leading the standings early in the year, and led the most laps of any driver. Dominguez dropped from fifth to eighth at the last event in Australia after being an innocent victim of a first turn incident, and finished the year in ninth spot after today's frustration despite running up front all season.
Forsythe Championship Racing would like to thank the millions of fans around the world for their support of the most exciting racing series on the planet. For the first time in Champ Car's long history, an average over 150,000 fans turned out for each of the 14 events. The first race of the 2006 season takes place in Long Beach, California on April 9th as Champ Car continues its amazing growth.