In a repeat of the dry/wet/dry conditions at Mont-Tremblant a week ago, Justin recovered from early contact and a spin to charge through the field to 3rd at the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto. Will Power (Team Australia) took the win, while Neel...
In a repeat of the dry/wet/dry conditions at Mont-Tremblant a week ago, Justin recovered from early contact and a spin to charge through the field to 3rd at the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto. Will Power (Team Australia) took the win, while Neel Jani (PKV) just managed to hold off Justin at the end for runner-up spot.
Though the standing start was clean, and only one car stalled, a chaotic first lap saw two big shunts which brought out a lengthy full course yellow and left just 12 cars running. All of the carnage was further down the field, and when the race went green on Lap 7 Justin settled into third, just behind Sebastien Bourdais (Newman/Haas/Lanigan) and Oriol Servia (Forsythe) who had rocketed into the lead at the start.
Keen to take advantage of his faster pace, on Lap 18 Justin put a wheel alongside Bourdais down the inside of Turn 5, but the Frenchman closed the door, tapping the #9 CDW car into a spin. Though Justin kept the engine running, and got underway without assistance, he found himself right at the back in 12th. "Sebastien got a really bad run through Turn 4, so I knew I had a chance", explained Justin. "But he went in deep into Turn 5 and turned in as if I wasn't there. Losing all those places was disappointing, but I was fired up to come back."
With the bit between his teeth, Justin caught and passed Graham Rahal (Newman/Haas/Lanigan) and Robert Doornbos (Minardi Team USA) to move up to P10 at his first pit-stop on Lap 34. Then spitting rain became a steady downpour, and the majority of the field pitted for wet Bridgestone tyres a short while later on Lap 41. After another twenty laps, and several more full course yellows, Justin was back up to 5th and racing Bourdais in treacherous conditions. Determined to make it stick this time, he outbraked him into Turn 8 to move up to 4th. "I enjoyed that", smiled Justin afterwards.
With 20 minutes to go, the rain eased. Just as it had done in Mont-Tremblant, the #9 car's balance improved and Justin was able to push hard. There was a podium in sight and, behind him, Bourdais and Doornbos had come together at Turn 3, so in championship terms this was also an opportunity for Justin to make hay. After a final full course yellow there was just enough time for two green flag laps before the chequered flag, setting up a thrilling finish.
Ryan Dalziel (PCM), who had led convincingly during the rain, was just ahead of Justin in 4th at the restart. Justin was fully alongside as he took the inside line into Turn 8 on Lap 70, but as he turned in, the #9 car slid wide on the concrete, nudging the Scotsman - who had attempted to stay on the outside - into the tyres. "I feel sorry for Ryan", said an apologetic Justin. "Everyone at Pacific Coast has done a fantastic job and they were running well. But from my point of view, in normal terms you would say that was my corner. I thought Ryan could have slowed up, let me slide out wide and passed me back into the next corner rather than trying to stay on the outside."
Now up to 3rd, and with one lap to go, Justin was hard on the heels of Neel Jani. Another lap and Justin might have passed the Swiss for 2nd, but at the end he was satisfied with 3rd. "After all that, to get the podium is great", he said. "It's fantastic to see the #9 car up there again for the CDW/RSPORTS team and all of our partners. The whole team has worked so hard during these last three races and hopefully we can keep this momentum going."
The next race is in Edmonton - another of Justin's favourites - in a fortnight's time (22nd July).