The Champ Car World Series will venture tomorrow into a new spectacle for their fans, and the many drivers that have never started a race from a full stop. Many of the Champ Car drivers have been watching their counterparts from the feeder...
The Champ Car World Series will venture tomorrow into a new spectacle for their fans, and the many drivers that have never started a race from a full stop.
Many of the Champ Car drivers have been watching their counterparts from the feeder series, Champ Car Atlantic Championship, do the standing starts. Champ Car Atlantics returned to the roots of the series with standing starts after a nine-year hiatus one year ago. Champ Car drivers, too, will now have the opportunity to experience the thrill and or apprehension of their first standing start.
The seventeen-car grid will form a staggered two by two configuration on the front straight of the Portland International Raceway on Sunday. One of the reasons given for the standing start by Tony Cotman, Champ Car's VP of Operations, was for the most part "entertainment". To assist in the event, for a car that cannot start, a safety truck will follow the grid on the warm up lap. The start of the race will not have start line judges as used in Formula One, but will use monitors in Race Control and the keen eye of Race Starter JD Wilbur.
Teams have been testing the starts during the off season and encountered engine mapping difficulties, thus delaying the standing start procedure until this weekend to insure the problems were solved.
The paddock has a blend of mixed emotions leading up to the start of the race.
Drivers will have the opportunity to use a launch aid, but many feel that they can do the jobs themselves. The Champ Cars will definitely be a handful for the initial take-off at the start due to their turbocharged engines.
Pole-sitter Justin Wilson (#9 RSPORTS) states: "I'm looking forward to it because the standing starts can be a lot of fun, but everyone is going to be nervous because with a turbo engine, it can stall sometimes for no apparent reason it can just cut out.."
Current points leader Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's) is apprehensive, "I think it's dangerous because of the risk of stalling. It's a fine line between the perfect start and a total disaster."
The young rookie Graham Rahal(#2 of Newman/Haas/Lanigan) believes that "once you've figured out your technique, its fine and I think the fans will love it."
Canadian driver Alex Tagliani (#8 RSPORTS) commented: "If there would be no challenge, there would be no fun."
Newcomer to the series Robert Doornbos (#14 Minardi Team USA) is looking forward to the opportunity of utilizing his skill of standing starts from the many European series that he has participated in before coming to Champ Car. Doornbos feels "it doesn't really matter because if you have one or twenty cars in front of you, in the spray, you just can't see anything. Yeah, it is good to do a standing start in these conditions. Probably have to do a grandpa get-away with not too much wheel spin, but we'll see how it goes.
"I've done lots of standing starts in other series, but it's different in every car" stated Jan Heylen driver of the #34 for Conquest Racing whose racing resume includes racing Formula 3000 in Europe.
The weather remains unpredictable for tomorrow's race. Will we see the mountains to the southwest? It's always a tell-tale sign of rain in the area when they disappear.
Will they use the standing start procedure in these conditions? We will have to wait and see.
One thing we can all be sure of, come tomorrow afternoon, we will all be watching, with bated breath, hearts pounding, fans and drivers alike.
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Wilson keeps pole in wet Portland