CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing race report



McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais started from pole but ran second the first half of today's Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto and set the fastest race lap but alternate strategy dictated by rain in the last half of the race saw him in fifth place when Robert Doornbos took him out of the event on Lap 68 of 73. After running into Bourdais in Turn 3, Doornbos was able to continue on and finish sixth to take over the points lead with 174 while race winner Will Power is now second with 172 and Bourdais is third with 171 after Round 7 of 16. Third place starter Oriol Servia passed Justin Wilson and Bourdais to take the lead from a standing start going into Turn 1 on the first lap but a six car accident instigated by two other cars a few turns later brought out the first of seven caution periods.

Once the race was restarted Bourdais continued to lower the fastest lap of the race and closed on Servia until the next caution for debris from Laps 14-16. Once the race was restarted Bourdais held off a charge from third place Wilson when the Brit made an optimistic move on Lap 19 and drove alongside him into a corner but had to back off and subsequently spun after the two made light contact. Bourdais slid slightly sideways but was able to recover and again set his sights on Servia. He was within 0.3 seconds of the Catalonian Servia and pulled alongside while both utilized 50 extra horsepower from Push to Pass but Bourdais was unable to complete the pass and lost ground to run 1.1 seconds back. He was then told he needed to conserve fuel or risk pitting earlier so Servia's lead grew.

Light sprinkles began to fall shortly thereafter and Bourdais set what would become the fastest lap of the race on 34 before he inherited the lead on Lap 35 when Servia pit. He made his first stop on the following lap but Will Power was able to stretch his fuel until Lap 37. Bourdais was in third once the round of stops were complete when the next caution came out from Laps 39-42 for Servia and Alex Tagliani who spun separately in Turn 3 on the slick, increasingly-wet track. Once the pits were opened the majority of the field took the opportunity to stop again for grooved Bridgestone rain tires on Lap 41.

Rookies Ryan Dalziel and Neel Jani, who took on rain tires on their previous stop on Lap 28 while the rest of the field chose slicks, ran first and second while Bourdais was fourth behind Will Power who moved ahead of him after the previous stop. Bourdais held the position through two restarts but on the following one, Wilson passed him on Lap 61. He ran in fifth while holding a lead of 0.6-1.0 seconds on Doornbos but Doornbos ran into the back of Bourdais and the duo landed in the tire wall on Lap 68. Doornbos was able to continue on to a sixth place finish and gain 19 points while Bourdais retired in ninth place (13 points not including one for setting the fastest race lap).

Following are his post race comments:

"Robert made a small mistake but it had a big consequence on both the race and the (championship) standings for the McDonald's team," said Bourdais. "I could see in his eyes (at the crash site) that he was sorry and he apologized after the race. I didn't see anything, he just t-boned me and was able to continue which gained him another six or so points which was enough to take over the lead. The car was good in the dry. I had a close call when Justin just drove into the corner and the car got a little sideways. All the action probably put on a good show for the fans. In the wet I wasn't quite willing to risk it all. We've had some tough luck this season. We weren't going to have the greatest finish but it was a decent finish and would have kept us in the lead and got us more points than we ended up with. We had one DNF on my part in Vegas and another due to an engine failure and now with the result today, it puts us behind."

Medi | Zone driver Graham Rahal had an eventful race in today's Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto but retired in 11th place after contact three separate times during the event that began in dry conditions for the first hour while the final 45 minutes ran in intermittent light rain. Rahal made a good standing start but a few turns later, Simon Pagenaud and Alex Tagliani came into contact which took off Pagenaud's wing. Paul Tracy subsequently ran over the wing and couldn't steer so he drove into the wall. Behind them on the blind corner, Tristan Gommendy came around and reacted to the melee which set off what turned out to be a six car accident not including the initial two instigators.

Unfortunately Rahal was included in the six car count as he hit the wall when his rear wheels locked up under braking. An apparent radio malfunction led to him immediately coming around and into the pits, which were closed. The team replaced his front wing and he returned to the track into 12th place. Since he was already in the rear of the field the team brought him in to top off his fuel on Lap 6 and he served a drive through penalty on Lap 7 for his initial stop in a "closed" pit. Once the race returned to green he remained in 12th place until his fourth overall stop on Lap 15 under caution for debris. He briefly moved up to 11th but was passed for position by Justin Wilson who had dropped back from third after spinning while truing to pass second place Bourdais.

As the field began making their first stops Rahal moved up to second by Lap 39. During this time, light sprinkles began to fall but all but two drivers took on racing slicks on their stops. The third of seven caution periods came out as Alex Tagliani slid on the wet track entering Turn 3 and Servia also slid entering the corner trying to avoid Tagliani. Once the pits opened the field came in for grooved Bridgestone rain tires on Lap 41. Rahal returned to the track in fifth place behind Bourdais and remained there for the next eight laps but on the ninth he lost control of his car and drove into a tire barrier in Turn 3. He was able to drive his car back to the pits for his second front wing/nose combination on Lap 51 and when he returned to the track he encountered a steering problem that put the car into the wall again and out of the race in 11th place. He earned 10 points but dropped to ninth in the standings with a total of 64.

Following are his post race comments:

"I just went into the corner and locked up," said Rahal. "I was making up time. I felt confident and unfortunately I was too confident and nudged the tires going into Turn 8 which must have damaged the steering rack and we didn't know that until we came in to get another nose and went back out and the car wouldn't turn and we hit the wall again. The track was difficult today and very slippery. The Medi | Zone car had a ton of understeer in the dry and I was struggling to keep up. It was a tough weekend."

Up Next: The Champ Car World Series will take next weekend off before returning for the third straight Canadian round -- the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton. Bourdais started from pole, led 55 laps but finished second due to tire strategy while Rahal started third in the Atlantics race and finished second.

-credit: n/h/l

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Justin Wilson , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Graham Rahal , Sébastien Bourdais , Robert Doornbos , Tristan Gommendy , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud