STRONG THIRD PLACE FINISH FOR FRENCH DRIVER NELSON PHILIPPE AND IMPRESSIVE FOURTH FOR ROOKIE DAN CLARKE IN MONTREAL Bad weather forced Sunday's 72-lap Champ Car Grand Prix de Montreal to be red-flagged after just six laps. Torrential rain ...
STRONG THIRD PLACE FINISH FOR FRENCH DRIVER NELSON PHILIPPE AND IMPRESSIVE FOURTH FOR ROOKIE DAN CLARKE IN MONTREAL
Bad weather forced Sunday's 72-lap Champ Car Grand Prix de Montreal to be red-flagged after just six laps. Torrential rain prevented the race from restarting and the Champ Car World Series, along with management from the Grand Prix of Montreal, had no choice but to postpone the event and pick up the race again today. Maybe rain is just what the CTE Racing squad needed to keep up their momentum and turn an otherwise lacklustre weekend into a strong third and fourth place finish, the team's best combined finish since their 1-2 sweep in 2003 at Miami.
Today's race resumed at the point where it was halted on Sunday, after only six laps, with Dan Clarke (#14 CTE Racing Ford- Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) in 10th position and Nelson Philippe (#4 CTE Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) in 14th.
Sunday's race did not start very well for the driver of car #4, Nelson Philippe, who was forced to pit on the first lap of the event to fix a right-front punctured tire suffered when his car made contact with that of car #27 Andrew Ranger in turn one. This unscheduled early stop moved him back from 10th to 14th. Off to a trying start today, which included a mid-race spin, Philippe turned it around and controlled the pace of the last quarter of the race. Using a different pit strategy than the rest of the field because of his early race puncture, it looked like Philippe may win the 66 lap sprint. Unfortunately the late race yellow flag came just after Philippe made his splash and go pitstop. Despite limited radio functions, Philippe did hear his team manager's orders, to "run as fast as you can" in the laps leading up to his final short stop. Philippe charged, each lap faster than the previous and garnered enough of a lead to come in for the splash and go and still return to the track in the top three. Today's podium is the second of Philippe's career, and his first on a road course. Philippe's first career podium came earlier this season on the oval at Milwaukee. Philippe strengthened his top-four position in the championship today where he leads former champion, Paul Tracy for fourth position by two points.
NELSON PHILIPPE, #4 CTE Racing HVM/ Lola/Ford-Cosworth (3rd)
"Yesterday did not start very well for us with a punctured tire that put us at the back of the field. So I started today in 14th position and I was able to climb up to 11th but at one point I thought I was going to finish 11th."
"At the beginning of the race, I had trouble getting into a rhythm but at one point it is like a switch turned on in my brain and it all came together. I had a little mishap on the track when I spun and felt really stupid, probably like the way Dan Clarke felt in Cleveland, when I was just not able to turn it around. To see that I finished 3rd after a spin like that makes it even better. I felt like I had a really quick race car and when I tried to overtake Mario (Dominguez), there was just no grip. There was just one line and when I tried to go off it to overtake, I got caught by the track conditions off line."
"The crew kept telling me to run as fast as I could so I gave it all I had. I was able to build up a lead and I came in for just a splash of fuel and was able to continue and battle for a top three finish. I saw a blue car in front and I was told PT was 2nd, so it was pretty good."
Dan Clarke gave another incredible performance today. He looked set for his second career podium until Champ Car officials penalised him for what they called a block on fellow competitor Nick Pastorelli. Clarke was ordered to let Pastorelli bye, which he did at the expense of some very valuable track position. However, it did not take long for the Brit to reclaim his position from Pastorelli and earn a fourth- place finish. It didn't take Clarke long to get comfortable on the historic Gilles Villeneuve circuit, he qualified in the top-ten and earned his second consecutive top-five finish.
DAN CLARKE, #14 CTE Racing HVM/ Lola/Ford-Cosworth (4th)
"Top rookie and another strong race result for us this weekend, so there's lots to cheer about. On the other hand, we seem to be finding all the different ways of missing out on a podium! We were very close to getting a podium this weekend, but I guess if I couldn't have it, at least my teammate got it. We had to fight hard for fourth place today, but it was satisfying to be able to race competitively, having the car and the determination to pass at every opportunity. I'll keep learning from these experiences, using the knowledge positively and continue to fight for more podiums."
KEITH WIGGINS, team owner CTE Racing HVM
"I think the drivers and team did an excellent job. The strategy for Nelson was very, very good and he put in a fast lap when he needed to and it paid off. Dan drove an exceptionally good race and made all the right moves. Of course I am disappointed in Champ Car's decision to give him a second penalty after he passed Pastorelli on the straight and they called it blocking. That was a bad call. I give all the credit to Dan who kept his cool and passed him (Pastorelli) back for a second time."