CHAMPCAR/CART: San Jose: Race report

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS WIDENS CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES POINTS LEAD WITH VICTORY AT INAUGURAL TAYLOR WOODROW GRAND PRIX OF SAN JOSE SAN JOSE, California (July 31, 2005) -- It was a mid-race victory streak that propelled Sebastien Bourdais ( ...

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS WIDENS CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES POINTS LEAD WITH VICTORY AT INAUGURAL TAYLOR WOODROW GRAND PRIX OF SAN JOSE

SAN JOSE, California (July 31, 2005) -- It was a mid-race victory streak that propelled Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) to the 2004 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford title as the Flying Frenchman rolled off four wins in six races during the summer to pull away from his rivals.

The reigning champ appears to be following the same path this year, as the Newman/Haas Racing driver scored his second consecutive win to end the month of July, taking a victory in Sunday's Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose as a sellout crowd of 62,371 cheered him to the win.

Bourdais rolled from the pole and ran away from the field at the drop of the flag, pacing 63 of the day's 93 laps on his way to the 13th victory of his Champ Car career. Bourdais controlled most of the action on a sunny Sunday, relinquishing the lead only when other teams experimented with alternate pit strategies. He was able to outlast his combatants on the alternate strategies and roll to the victory by 3.724 seconds over Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), widening his series points lead to 28 points over the Canadian.

Tracy scored his sixth podium of the season in finishing second, marking the 68th time that North America's leading active open-wheel driver has sprayed champagne at the end of a Champ Car race. He broke up a possible sweep by Newman/Haas by finishing second, leaving Oriol Servia (#2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) to place third. The Spaniard scored his fourth consecutive podium finish with the third-place result, building the longest such streak of his six-year Champ Car career.

Bourdais led from the drop of the flag, and defended his position on a Lap 5 restart brought out by an incident involving Ricardo Sperafico (#11 Sonny's Real Pit BBQ Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). He was equal to the task on the restart and paced the first 28 laps before yielding to rookie Ronnie Bremer (#19 American Medical Response Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who stayed out while everyone else pitted during a caution period to clean debris from the track.

Bourdais had things under control up front during the first part of the race, but incidents behind him ended promising days for a couple young Champ Car stars-in-waiting. A.J. Allmendinger (#10 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) had wall contact that ended his day while running fourth, and a mechanical problem felled Nelson Philippe (#34 Wellbox Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who was running in the top five after earning his best Champ Car starting spot.

The rookie Bremer did an admirable job in leading the field during his time in front, pacing a career-high 19 laps before rolling down Pit Lane for a new load of fuel, giving the lead back to Bourdais. The Frenchman took the bit and ran with it again, leading until Ryan Hunter-Reay (#31 Cytomax Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) brought out the yellow flag again, sending the field down the Pit Lane for fuel -- with the exception of Bjorn Wirdheim (#4 HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who stayed out to take the lead.

Wirdheim led the next 10 laps while rest of the field jockeyed for position behind the former F3000 champion. He pitted on Lap 72 to give the lead back to Bourdais, who immediately went about stretching his lead back out over Tracy, Servia and Justin Wilson (#9 Intel Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone).

Bourdais gave back any advantage gained on Lap 78 however as he and the rest of the field lined up behind the pace car after Cristiano da Matta (#21 Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) suffered race-ending contact with the Turn Four wall. The fourth and final caution period showed why having a 6'5'' driver in the cockpit can pay dividends as Wilson's front shock cover was blown off its moorings when he drove past the track dryer, which was blowing debris off of the race track. Still belted into his car and driving at 60 mph behind the pace car, Wilson was able to reach up and refasten his shock cover, saving himself a costly trip down Pit Lane for repairs.

Bourdais removed all doubt about the eventual winner would be in his first few laps after the Lap 84 restart, running two of the fastest laps of the race to pull away to a lead that he would not relinquish. He beat Tracy to the line by more than three seconds while Servia held off the late advances of Wilson and Mario Dominguez (#7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) to score the third spot. Wilson finished fourth for the fifth time this season while Dominguez rounded out the top five for the second consecutive week.

Timo Glock (#8 DHL Global Mail Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) matched a career high with his sixth-place run, allowing him to widen his lead in the Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year standings to 11 over Bremer. Bremer placed seventh in the Dale Coyne Racing machine and moved into second in the rookie standings, despite the fact that he sat out the Toronto race. Wirdheim came home in eighth while Alex Tagliani (#15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and da Matta completed the top 10.

The series will take a week off before heading to the Mile High City of Denver for the August 12-14 Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver. Sebastien Bourdais is the defending champion in Denver, scoring his most impressive win of the year in a race that saw him recover from a first-lap spin to win the event.

Oriol Servia: "It went well. Since I have been at the PacifiCare team, it's been five podiums in six races, so it's really good. Unfortunately, looks like all the championship contenders are on the podium every time. Today, as you said, we made a little bit of ground on Justin. But these two guys on my right are definitely going to be up there every single race, so we need to step it up a little, just a little bit more."

Paul Tracy: "The tire wear was good. But, you know, it's a tricky track for sure. There's no room for error. It's narrow. Obviously, it's very slippery. You really had to concentrate on just being smooth. It really wasn't about how fast you could go; it was about just keeping it in between the wall. It was a great event, a great festival event. The city was behind it 100 percent and you could tell."

Sebastien Bourdais: "I think I was in the preferred position; I just tried to stay there. Although a few guys out of sync definitely didn't make it easy because it was so difficult. I mean, we were saving fuel. Obviously, the guys who were out of sync were not. It was really difficult because if you were trying to pass the guy, you definitely had to pass him, and it felt really difficult. I also had PT behind me waiting to get the best advantage of the smallest mistakes I was going to make. So I just elected to try and be safe, keep saving fuel, and wait for my turn to take the lead back, and more importantly, not to make any mistakes. I think it was the key of the race, the key of the day."

Sebastien Bourdais' victory was the 13th of his career, tying him for 17th on the all-time Champ Car list with former series champion Tom Sneva.

Bourdais led 63 laps on the day, giving him 930 for his Champ Car career. He moves into 24th on the all-time laps led list, passing Dario Franchitti (917) and Cristiano da Matta (918). Next on the list is Helio Castroneves, who led 946 laps in his time in Champ Car.

Paul Tracy made his 231st career start today, moving him ahead of Roger McCluskey and into sole possession of 10th spot on the all-time series list.

Today's crowd of 62,371 boosted the three-day attendance total to 153,767, marking the third consecutive race where Champ Car has drawn over 150,000 fans. The total this weekend boosted the total attendance for the year to over one million after just eight races.

Sebastien Bourdais has finished all but one of the 841 laps run this season, putting him on pace to eclipse Rick Mears' record for percentage of laps completed in a season.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ricardo Sperafico , Justin Wilson , Helio Castroneves , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Rick Mears , Tom Sneva , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Bjorn Wirdheim , Nelson Philippe , Ronnie Bremer , Timo Glock , Dale Coyne , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Dale Coyne Racing