CHAMPCAR/CART: Mont-Tremblant: Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing race report

McDONALD'S ® DRIVER BOURDAIS FINISHED SECOND IN THE WET CAR MONT-TREMBLANT RACE; MEDI | ZONE DRIVER RAHAL LED BUT FINISHED SEVENTH - McDonald's ® driver Sebastien Bourdais led a race high 27 laps in today's Champ Car Mont-Tremblant but ...


- McDonald's ® driver Sebastien Bourdais led a race high 27 laps in today's Champ Car Mont-Tremblant but recovered from a spin on the wet track that dropped him to 11th and finished second. Rookie Robert Doornbos won his first Champ Car race and is now tied with Bourdais in the point standings at 145. The field contended with a forecast that called for intermittent rain and Mother Nature made her mark on the event in the form of intermittent sprinkles that developed into a light rain mid-race and led to many off-track excursions. Bourdais was to start third but polesitter Tristan Gommendy's car wouldn't run for the warm-up lap and when second place starter Will Power stalled during the standing start Bourdais took the lead. A total of three cars stalled on the grid and the field ran under caution until they were started. Bourdais built a comfortable lead over second place Doornbos and the two made their first stops on Lap 21. Intermittent sprinkles had been falling throughout the race but the field stayed on slick tires. Shortly thereafter a steady light rain began to fall and Jan Heylen brought out another caution flag between Laps 26-28. After a few drivers spun in the slick conditions, Bourdais joined the list on Lap 28 when the field prepared to restart and he dropped back to 11th place. Since he was in the back of the field, the team elected to bring him in under the caution that was extended due to a spin by Paul Tracy, to top off his fuel on Lap 29. The race resumed on Lap 30 and Bourdais moved up to seventh by passing cars and gaining positions when others pitted on Lap 37 during the caution for Alex Figge who brought out the last three caution periods of the race. The rain stopped but the track remained wet and hazardous. By Lap 38 he moved into third to leader and teammate Graham Rahal and second place Will Power. When the field made their final stops on Lap 44, Bourdais returned to the track in fifth place and moved into fourth on Lap 48 when temporary race leader Justin Wilson fell back, reportedly due to conserving fuel after making taking on less fuel on his previous stop. On Lap 50 Doornbos made a pass on Neel Jani for position and Bourdais was able to follow for third. On Lap 53 of what would be a 62 lap event, he moved into second when race leader Simon Pagenaud drove wide into a corner on the slick track and lost two positions. Bourdais took the checkered flag 2.8 seconds behind Doornbos and gained 27 points for second place and one for setting the fastest race lap for a total of 145 points to tie with Doornbos in the points lead.

Following are Bourdais' post race comments: "I guess in our bad luck we got a little lucky in the conditions, getting out of sync, cycling back to the front helped us," said Bourdais. "It's a bit of a shame. Obviously the McDonald's car was really, really good under dry conditions. Had it stayed this way, I think it was going to be a really, really good day for us. The boys had done a terrific job and the car was very, very good. We were getting good fuel mileage and good pace. Then under the yellow, when the track started to get wet, you know, in some places, and they decided to restart the race, I was like, oh, boy that's going to be tough. I was the first one to discover the slippery conditions and I made a mistake. I went for the restart in 14. I wasn't really quick, but the car went straight and ended up in the gravel. That was disappointing, but I knew the race was going to be long and we kept fighting for it. After that, the condition kept getting trickier and trickier. All of a sudden we saw ourselves in wets and close to the front. So it was looking fairly good. Robert passed me very cleanly on the track; I just left the door open. I was kind of hoping he was going to do the same when at some point I was a little quicker behind him. But that's not what he did. That's the only reason I was very unhappy with him."

- Medi | Zone driver Graham Rahal made a great start and led seven laps but a shifting issue led to a stalled race car during his final pit stop and he finished seventh in today's wet Champ Car Mont-Tremblant on the mountainous Le Circuit in St. Jovite, Quebec, Canada. Wet conditions on Saturday meant he couldn't improve his qualifying time despite making gains on Saturday so he started from ninth place. The teams would have to contend with a forecast of intermittent rains throughout the day. Polesitter Tristan Gommendy's car would not start on the warm up lap and once the field got the green for their standings starts, second place starter Will Power stalled. Rahal made a great start and as he pulled alongside eighth place starter Alex Tagliani he came upon the stopped car of Power and had to back off the throttle and swerve to avoid the stationary car. He maintained seventh place while attempting to conserve fuel for the first part of the stint until his first pit stop was nearing and he was given the go ahead to close the gap on sixth place Oriol Servia, which he did. After the field completed their first stops, he was in sixth place and moved into fifth on Lap 28 when race leader and teammate Sebastien Bourdais spun while preparing for a restart from caution on the slick track as a steady light rain had begun a few laps earlier. He moved into fourth on Lap 35 when third place runner Dan Clarke slowed due to mechanical failure. Alex Figge brought out the first of his three caution periods from Laps 36-39 and a good portion of the field took the opportunity to pit. Rahal, Power, Bourdais and Pagenaud stayed on track with Rahal leading the field aptly through the restart and for a total of seven laps and sizeable lead over second before he came into the pits for his final stop on Lap 44. As he approached his pit box he went down through the gears to get to neutral but was unable to do so and the car stalled. Because it was not running, it was near impossible to put the car in neutral but once that was done he was restarted and rejoined the field, albeit in 10th place. After six laps he passed Ryan Dalziel for ninth and three laps later passed Oriol Servia for eighth. With two laps to go Tagliani slid off course on the still slick track and Rahal took over seventh place, which is where he took the checkered flag and earned 17 points for his finish to land in a two-way tie for seventh place with Servia, both with 91 points.

Following are his post race comments: "I made an awesome start and was alongside Tag (Alex Tagliani) but didn't know that Power had stalled it until I was on him and I lost a spot because I had to check up. When I left the line I was already next to Tag. My wheel spin control was awesome and I started taking off. We were quick on slicks in the dry and when we wanted to catch Tagliani we did and coming out of the pits I had a great out lap and I passed him. Then we were in lead but it was so slippery that I feared going back to green. We went back to green and I was leading on slicks and I basically focused forward and drove and in three or four laps I pulled out a 12 second lead which I didn't know because I couldn't see who was behind me so he could have been only one second behind and I wouldn't have known. We did and awesome job and then came into the pits normal procedure and stopped in the box and the car just shut itself off. Coming in, the gearbox wouldn't go down gear. In these cars with the paddle shift, you're out of luck if it doesn't go down in gear and if the car isn't running, forget it. It's not like a manual car where you can just shove it into gear. It took us forever to get that situated. We weren't out and just tried to stay calm and plugged away and passed three people. We were quick in the rain, we were quick in the dry, we saved fuel when we needed to. If we wouldn't have had a problem on the pit stop the Medi | Zone car would have been the class of the field. When I wanted to catch cars, and not conserve fuel, I caught them. I was braking way late in the rain and I could get up on their gearboxes. I am a lot more confident in myself after this weekend. We deserve better results but our luck has been so bad."

- Up Next… The Champ Car World Series will reconvene next weekend for the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto. Bourdais started and finished third there last year while Rahal started from pole in the Atlantics race but contact on the first lap limited his finishing position.

-credit: nhlr

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Justin Wilson , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Graham Rahal , Sébastien Bourdais , Robert Doornbos , Alex Figge , Neel Jani , Tristan Gommendy , Jan Heylen , Will Power , Daniel Clarke , Simon Pagenaud