Sebastian Bourdais is first out the gate for the final stage of the Canadian Triple Crown ... Sebastien Bourdais ( ...
Sebastian Bourdais is first out the gate for the final stage of the Canadian Triple Crown ...
Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) qualified for the provisional pole today before a large crowd of fans (for a Friday) at the Rexall Grand Prix Edmonton in Alberta, Canada. The session was shortened by five minutes due to a late red flag. Bourdais lapped the 1.973-mile Rexall Speedway at City Centre Airport in 58.709 seconds (120.983 mph.) 194.69 kph.
Bourdais earned his fifth front row start of the season, along with a championship point which now ties him for second place with Will Power.
Turn 7 proved to be a challenging location on the circuit today as Bourdais spun out earlier in the day at the location where Tristan Gommendy (#22 Pay by Touch-Megaspiera Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) made contact with the wall on the exit of Turn 6 and had complained of lower back pain. Gommendy was then transported to a local hospital for precautionary x-ray thus bringing out the red flag and shortening the qualifying session.
Bourdais commented "I don't know. I still have no clue what happened over there. Pushed for the whole season session, the whole morning, then on one lap it just stepped out. One of these things where you kind of, well, all right, didn't hit anything, collect yourself, go back out there and try harder, but keep it on the right direction."... "Obviously, I hope Tristan doesn't suffer a major injury. But for the ones who had put a good lap on the first run, it was pretty good for us that it didn't go back green because obviously it would have been really hard to get a gap, being so far down pit lane because of our pit selection from the bad result we had in Toronto, it would have really hurt us."
Two Rookies took the next top spots on the grid.
Simon Pagenaud, #15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DPO1/Bridgetone (qualified second), "You know, it's just been a very good day for us because this morning it was not that good, we had a couple issues. The whole Aussie Vineyards team has been working really, really well, making my car working for this afternoon. When we came in practice this afternoon, the car was great. I just said, that's a great car just do a couple of changes, but we're not far away. Put new tires on, it was great. Great, great feeling." Although Simon had some feelings about Turn 7 as well."Basically the same. If you're a little bit off, you're going to go in the wall straight. I think that's maybe what happened to Tristan. I didn't see the accident. I mean, on my part, I don't have as much problem as these guys apparently. No, I mean, it's a tricky corner. It's maybe the slowest one, but this is where you can really destroy the car. So you have to be careful even in the slow part. So that's why this track is very tough for everyone.
Graham Rahal in the #2 Medi | Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone qualified 3rd -- he started third in the Atlantics here last year -- and commented, "Especially coming out of the Atlantics, the amount of speed difference is huge. So it makes it tougher ... I've always liked the airport circuits, here and Cleveland. Today was an awfully good day for us. I think it's unfortunate that we couldn't run a second set of tires because I certainly think we could do better on our time, but certainly that's how it works. We're just happy to be third." Rahal who had participated at a media day here in Edmonton approximately a month ago had an opportunity to spend some time on the simulators and felt the simulator was "awfully hard to drive and was more embarrassing than it was any good."
Dale Coyne Racing driver Bruno Junqueira (#19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) continued to ride the wave of momentum he built at Toronto turning in another top-5 performance. Junqueira's time of 59.127 seconds (120.128 mph) 193.318 kph was good enough for fourth. "I'm very happy with my fourth place qualifying performance today. The #19 Sonny's Bar-B-Q DP01 car was awesome today. The day started off right as we were the fourth quickest in practice sessions one and two. I think that I can give the team a top three finish tomorrow. I can't wait to get back on the track!"
Next in line was Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who set his best lap early in the session. Power also paced the morning practice but being limited to just one run in qualifying hurt the Aussie driver who was looking to move within one point of the series lead with the provisional pole point.
Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) was sixth fastest with PKV Racing's Neel Jani (#21 Red Bull-Gulfstream Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) seventh.
Canadian Alex Tagliani (#8Tide@Wal-Mart Victory Lap Charity Program Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) was eighth quickest. "Not knowing what the first round of qualifying was going to be like, we decided to try something that was kind of aggressive and it didn't really work out for us during our first stint. We were still in a good mood because we where in the range that we wanted to be when we decided to go back on the change we made. ...But it is going to be interesting tomorrow because after the first day here in Edmonton, I think that the car is very decent. I am excited to see what we can do tomorrow."
Rounding out the top ten today was Oriol Servia (#7 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and Series points leader Robert Doornbos #14 Team Minardi USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone.
Another Canadian hopeful was Paul Tracy #3 INDECK Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Qualified 15th) - "Well today was pretty much a disaster. I can't really say much about the car or about the track because I've barely done any laps, I haven't even had a chance to really get up to speed. In the morning I went out and did a few laps and then suddenly something broke on the suspension and it took a while to fix so we were just sitting in the pits. Then we went out again and had some type of electrical problem so we had to come back in but the session was already over anyway. When I went out during the 10 minute pre-qualifying practice the car actually felt pretty good, it was definitely something we could work with. But we never got the chance to, after only four laps during qualifying we had a short in the electrical system and the whole car shut off, my crew tried to repair it in the pits but there was a lot of damage. So obviously it's a pretty poor start to the weekend, hopefully tomorrow we'll get to do more laps and see what we got."
As the sun rises tomorrow over the scenic river valley of Edmonton at the Rexall Grand Prix, the drivers and crew of the Champ Car World Series will be planning strategy for the next stage en route to the final sprint of the Canadian Triple Crown.