CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES POINTS LEADER SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS PACES FIRST DAY OF QUALIFYING FOR CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF MONTREAL MONTREAL (August 25, 2006) -- A Champ Car is a highly technical piece of equipment that often requires a team of ...
CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES POINTS LEADER SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS PACES FIRST DAY OF QUALIFYING FOR CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF MONTREAL
MONTREAL (August 25, 2006) -- A Champ Car is a highly technical piece of equipment that often requires a team of well-educated engineers to spend hours poring over data just to lower a lap time by a tenth of a second.
Or as two-time defending champion of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) found out today -- sometimes a Champ Car just needs to be bounced off a wall.
Bourdais banged his Newman/Haas Racing mount off the Turn Four wall just three laps into today's opening round of qualifying at Montreal's Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve, but Bourdais' machine not only survived the impact -- it prospered from it. The series points leader shook off the contact and roared to the top of the charts with a best lap of 1:21.193 (120.114 mph) around the 2.709-mile Montreal road course.
The winner of the last two Bridgestone Pole Positions in Montreal, Bourdais had an eventful day in rolling to the first-day qualifying lead -- a lead that guarantees him a front-row starting spot for Sunday's race and earned him another championship point. Not only did his car hold up through an unscheduled meeting with the Turn Four fence, it also emerged unscathed after Bourdais bounced through the grass and across the racing surface after missing the first chicane.
Bourdais was able to keep the car running after his slide, therefore avoiding a red-flag penalty that would have cost him his fastest lap, and then go on to post the day's top time. Defending Montreal racewinner Oriol Servia (#6 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) continued to show his mastery of the Canadian road course, finishing second in his best qualifying performance of the season.
Servia, who has two podiums and two front-row starting spots in his previous visits to Montreal, ran his best time of 1:21.523 (119.628 mph) on his 12th and final lap of the day, vaulting the PKV Racing driver from fourth to second on the first-day grid.
The 2004 Montreal champion followed the '05 winner on Friday's results sheet as Bruno Junqueira (#2 Hole In The Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) snared the third spot in Friday's outing. The Brazilian hung up a best time of 1:21.856 (119.141 mph) to place third as he makes his first visit to Montreal since winning the 2004 event.
The first half of the session saw Nelson Philippe (#4 CTE Racing -- HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) showing the way while half of the field waited to take their first laps. Things then slowed briefly when Charles Zwolsman (#34 Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) spun to bring out the red flag, halting early runs for Bourdais, Servia and Mario Dominguez (#19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone).
The 30-minute session hit the halfway point just as the green flag waved to restart the action, and things heated up quickly from there. Servia wrested the pole from Philippe on just his second trip after the restart, then swapped it with Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) twice before Bourdais climbed to the top on his fifth lap.
Wilson's RuSPORT squad bolted on a pair of the red-walled alternate Bridgestone Potenzas in an attempt to run Bourdais down, but the Frenchman upped the ante again on Lap 10 and again on his 12th pass, leaving the field to battle for second. Servia took the second position on his final lap while Junqueira and Wilson ended up filling the second row.
Canadian star Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) rounded out the top five with a time of 1:22.222 (118.611 mph) as he searches for his first Montreal win. He fared better than his Forsythe Championship Racing teammate A.J. Allmendinger (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who sat out the first round of qualifying after grenading an engine in the pre-qualifying practice.
Allmendinger, who is second in the point standings after 10 events and is the winner of the series' most recent event, is expected to run in tomorrow's final qualifying session. Philippe's time that had him on the pole in the session's early minutes held up for sixth-best on the day while hometown favorite Andrew Ranger (#27 WalMart Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) took the seventh position with a time of 1:22.655 (117.989 mph).
Antonio Pizzonia (#18 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) made a strong return to the Champ Car World Series, getting back in the Rocketsports car after a five-month absence. The Brazilian, who competed in Montreal in the 2003 Formula 1 race while with Jaguar, led the Michigan-based team to an eighth-place finish with a time of 1:22.767 (117.830 mph). The result was the best in a qualifying session for the Rocketsports squad this year, and made Pizzonia the top-finishing rookie of the day.
Dominguez and Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) carded identical times of 1:22.796 (117.788 mph), but Power claimed the ninth position by virtue of his second-best time. Dominguez originally held the ninth spot, but was penalized his fastest lap after being found guilty of blocking, dropping him to 10th behind the rookie points leader.
The final grid for Sunday's race will be set with Saturday's second-round of qualifying, which will take place at 2 p.m. Eastern Time. Fans can follow all of the action via the Race Director feature, available of the official website of the Champ Car World Series -- www.champcar.ws.
QUOTES FROM THE TOP THREE QUALIFIERS
Sebastien Bourdais: "Well, yeah, I guess the McDonald's car was really good right off. This morning we were very happy with the way things went, just pretty much started where we left it. You know, it wasn't perfect, but it was a very solid baseline, so we didn't really bother, we just let the track come to us."
Oriol Servia: "You know, just this race and the next few races are my favorite tracks, so everything comes at the right time, when, you know, me and the team are starting to gel and work together. This track's obviously good for me. I just hope we can show the full potential of the team. "
Bruno Junqueira: "I'm very disappointed because I could fight for pole but I got traffic. On the first set of tires I was only 1/10th of a second behind Sebastien. On the second set of tires I got traffic but still was able to improve my time although possibly not as much as if I didn't have traffic."