Wilson heading for podium, but race ended by Paul Tracy Justin Wilson was well on course for his first podium finish in the Champ Car World Series before he was punted into a spin by Paul Tracy on lap 41. He recovered to finish 12th, but...
Wilson heading for podium, but race ended by Paul Tracy
Justin Wilson was well on course for his first podium finish in the Champ Car World Series before he was punted into a spin by Paul Tracy on lap 41. He recovered to finish 12th, but Justin and the team were bitterly disappointed - his and the car's race pace was good enough for at least second place.
Wilson had moved up from fifth spot at the start to third after Bruno Junqueira slid into Mario Dominguez at Turn 1 on the first lap. He traded fastest laps through his first stint, keeping within two seconds of race leader and eventual winner Sebastien Bourdais, and less than a second behind Tracy.
The Mi-Jack Conquest Racing team completed an excellent first pit-stop on lap 34 to put Wilson out ahead of Tracy on the track after his stop a lap later. The car was running even better than it had in the practice and qualifying sessions, with very good balance and none of the rear tyre wear problems that Justin and the team had feared going into the race. By lap 40, the team was confident of at least second place, but that's when the trouble started.
Following a full course yellow after Memo Gidley's second excursion, the race went green on lap 41. Tracy got a good run on Wilson on the re-start and went around the outside on the back straight, off-line, then came across and squeezed Justin against the inside wall, just leaving him enough space. Because his line into turn 3 was then so tight, Wilson had to take first gear to avoid stalling through the corner, and he moved back ahead of Tracy as they braked. As Wilson turned in, Tracy ran into the back of him punting him into a spin. After literally shovelling Justin out of his way, Tracy continued to finish an eventual fifth.
The contact with Tracy had punctured Justin's left rear, and it took some time for the Safety Team to get him going again because of the deflated tyre. After pitting again for fresh tyres and fuel, Justin pushed hard to make up the two lap deficit caused by the accident. He ran hard and fast, but had to pit for a new nose after Oriol Servia got a tank-slapper as Wilson was running beside him on lap 45. To complete his hat-trick of problems he later picked up a puncture which required a further pit-stop on lap 62.
The Mi-Jack Conquest Racing team could take some comfort from their good qualifying performance and even stronger race pace - Wilson set the third fastest race lap on lap 66, after everything that had happened. But they were left thinking about what might have been if not for Tracy's aggressive driving. The Canadian was given stop-go penalties for the incident with Wilson, and for putting Michel Jourdain Jr off later in the race.
"It is frustrating when you are so competitive and have your race ruined like that. We were having a great race up to that point. The team did an excellent pit-stop to get me out ahead of Paul, and the car was working really well. It could have been our best result of the season", reflected Justin.
However, he's confident that the team can move on, and continue to mix it with the established Champ Car teams. "At least I was able to stay in the race and collect a few championship points. We had a good race car and have been competitive all weekend again, so we just need to get on to the next race at Vancouver to turn that into a result".
The Champ Car World Series heads to the Vancouver street circuit for round seven on 25 July.