F1 bound Newman/Haas/Lanigan driver Sebastien Bourdais won his record 4th straight Champ Car title in style by holding off RuSPORT’s Justin Wilson for his 30th career win Sunday in Surfers Paradise, Australia. Bruno Junqueira was third in another excellent drive by the Dale Coyne Racing driver.
Robert Doornbos was fourth for Minardi Team USA, ahead of Team Australia’s Simon Pagenaud, and last year’s winner Nelson Philippe in his Conquest Racing car.
In 16 years that Champ Car has been racing at Surfers, Bourdais is the first repeat winner of the unforgiving street race Down Under. In five Champ Car seasons, all on Bridgestone Potenza tires, Bourdais has amassed 30 race wins and 31 pole positions.
"It was one of those races where I decided to have fun with it and give it all we had," said a happy Bourdais. "To win the race, win the championship, be the first repeat winner in Surfers - what a day!"
Polesitter Will Power looked to be the car to beat early on, but a pit lane mistake by his crew cost him the race. As he was exiting his pit stall on his first stop his crew waved him out just as Forsythe Championship Racing’s David Martinez was pulling into the next pit. The two cars made light contact but it was enough to bend Power’s right front wishbone.
Regardless, Power then charged hard to make his way back up through the field from 16th position when he made contact with Katherine Legge and ended his day against the wall.
Legge had her day ended early on lap 26 when her steering broke due to contact with Power a lap earlier.
“I don’t know how he hit me,” said Legge. “I gave him enough room to pass me, but the next thing I knew his car was coming over mine. It is a shame that this incident happened because we probably would have had a top 10 finish today if it wasn’t for that.”
"It was a very eventful, but fun race", said Wilson. "Overall, the car was great all race and I was really having quite a good time out there. But I glazed the brakes in the last stint and was having trouble stopping and I knew I would have to drive really hard to catch Sebastien. So I decided to save my second place rather than wreck the car trying to catch him. It’s nice to finish on the podium here in Surfers in front of all these mad Australians. I want to end the season with a win in Mexico City."
In his 100th race as a Champ Car World Series driver, Bruno Junqueira, scored his 34th podium and third consecutive. He finished on the podium twice in Europe before this race in Australia.
Junqueira had a very eventful day. Just two hours before the race, his mechanics found an oil leak in the engine. So they had to change the engine in a hurry. They put a fresh Cosworth engine in the car. The car was ready just two minutes before the start of the race.
On the standing start he stalled the engine and was lucky that nobody hit him from behind. When the safety team push-started him he was 57 seconds behind the leaders and realized he had to save fuel.
"I was able to maintain the 57 seconds gap to the leaders despite going into fuel saving mode immediately." Since I was dead last that was the right strategy. I knew we had a good car," said Junqueira.
"I’m very, very happy. Three podiums in a row for Dale Coyne. He was a team that wasn’t used to being on the podium very often, but now we’re doing a very good job, very hard work. I’m very happy. I hope we can keep getting these great results."
Sebastien Bourdais holds his 4th straight Vanderbilt Cup Trophy
Bourdais was a very happy winner and put his five years at Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing by saying, "It was one of those races where I decided to have fun with it and give it all we had,” said Bourdais. “For the McDonald’s team to win the race, win the championship, be the first repeat winner in Surfers - what a day! We had a very, very good balance on the car with the Bridgestone primes. When I saw Justin out there doing so well on the reds, I thought maybe we should put them back on. Whatever tires you picked, it was just a matter of timing because they were going to perform for you.
"These have been the best racing years of my life. We’ve had an awesome stretch of years here and really enjoyed it. Now I know I’m going to a different challenge (Formula One), but still with Bridgestone tires. Bridgestone has been great to us, always gave us great tires, it was awesome. Well, it’s been quite above average, I should say. You know, it’s just the success of an awesome group of people within that McDonald’s team. We started that relationship back in 2003. Just all the results really speak for themselves. You know, it’s how good these guys are. And they proved it today again when we came in the pits in third and came out first. From there, it was in my hands to try to make it stick.
“We had a great fight with Justin when he short-filled and got ahead of us. Then we had to, you know, stay with him with a heavier car, and we pulled it off. Then coming to that last corner, it’s just all the emotions flowing through your mind.
"You realize how much has come to you and how much you’ve achieved with these guys and you get the sense that it’s coming to an end very closely now. What a fun five years it’s been. I’m surely not going to forget about it any time soon. We’ve been working really hard together, as I said, for these past five years. You know, I just couldn’t stand myself if I didn’t give it all I had until the very end. They deserve the very best, and we’re going to do just that until the very end. Obviously to win that championship with a win today means a lot. At least we’ll be in a mood to celebrate and have a great party. That’s good.
"There’s one more race to go before we turn the page of my Champ Car career, and we’ll just give it our very best again in Mexico City. It’s a place that’s been very good to us in the past years, and now we’ll try and have one more time a lot of fun and, if possible, a win. Obviously it’s a great challenge that awaits me for next year with the Toro Rosso team. Obviously it’s the longtime dream for me to end up in F1. Like I said, so far I’m a Newman/Haas/Lanigan driver, driving that McDonald’s car. I’ll think about next year when it’s time.”
Nelson Philippe finished sixth in his return with Conquest Racing. Alex Tagliani Neel Jani, Tracy, and Martinez rounded out the top-ten.
Next up for the Champ Car World Series will be the season finale in Mexico City on November 11, 2007. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN 2 at 2:00 p.m. eastern time.
Sebastien Bourdais #1 McDonalds Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Finished 1st) –
“Well, it’s been quite an above average day, I should say. You know, it’s just the success of an awesome group of people within that McDonald’s team. We started that relationship back in 2003. Just all the results really speak for themselves. You know, it’s how good these guys are. And they proved it today again when we came in the pits in third and came out first. From there, it was in my hands to try to make it stick. We had a great fight with Justin when he short-filled and got ahead of us. Then we had to, you know, stay with him with a heavier car, and we pulled it off. Then coming to that last corner, it’s just all the emotions flowing through your mind. Just you realize how much has come to you and how much you’ve achieved with these guys and you get the sense that it’s coming to an end very closely now. What a fun five years it’s been. I’m surely not going to forget about it any time soon.”
Justin Wilson #9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Finished 2nd)
“We had a few problems at the start as well. I let the clutch out. Everything was good. I was just getting a little bit of wheel spin. When I went to shift from first to second, I ended up in neutral. A couple of guys went by me. I was quite frustrated at that point. Then Paul went off at the first corner. You know, it was just a matter of staying calm and not doing anything stupid. This race is always that way. After I think the first yellow, there were three people on the same strategy I was, or two people in front of me. I was running third behind Oriol and Sebastien. I was pretty comfortable with that. We were working out when to save fuel, when to push. Then I was behind Oriol when he hit the wall at turn two. He hit it pretty hard. That allowed me to get on a roll. I got a run on him into turn five. After that, it was just a case of running down Sebastien. The car was working well.”
Bruno Junqueira #19 Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Finished 3rd) –
“Today we had a very eventful day. I was third behind Sebastien and Justin. My car felt very good in the warm-up, much better than in practice and qualifications. I was very confident. But two hours before the race, my mechanics found an oil leak in the engine. So I had to change the engine in a hurry. We put a fresh engine in the car. The car was ready just two minutes before the start of the race. On the start, because you do the out lap without going full throttle, trying to save fuel on the parade lap, I don’t know, when I went full throttle, I lift the clutch the way I usually do, the car just bogged down and stalled. I was first very lucky that nobody hit me from behind. Then the safety team did a very good job to start me. Then I kept racing. I started the race. I was like 57 seconds behind the leaders and realized I had to save fuel. We were very close on the last three races. That put us in a good position in the championship. The team did a great job today on the pit stop and strategy. My car was very good, very fast, not just today, throughout the whole weekend. I’m enjoying a lot.”
Robert Doornbos #14 Team Minardi USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Finished 4th) –
“First off, I have to thank all the boys, the whole team, and especially my engineers for their terrific strategy getting me up to the front for a strong finish. I was giving it 110% every lap, and we had good pit stops and it’s a great way to finish the weekend. We had a broken exhaust at the end, so we were definitely down on power, otherwise we could have had another podium. I’m happy to be Rookie of the Year and in the top three in points right now. Our target is second place, and we’ll give it a run in Mexico.”
Simon Pagenaud #15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Finished 5th) –
“We had a very good car. The car was just fantastic all race. Just the race is not as good as it should be, the fuel save mode, because all race, I just save fuel and not push a hundred percent. It was pretty disappointing I would say from a racing point of view. I think we need to work on that for next year to make the race a bit more interesting for the drivers and the fans also. But I was really pleased because we worked really well on that car during the practice and in qualifying. In the race I had a really good car. It was very fun to drive. I was also very pleased to see so much Team Australia flags on the side of the track. I could even see it when driving. It was really nice. It’s great to feel so much support coming here.”
Nelson Philippe #34 Juniper Soul Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Finished 6th) –
“Even though the results may not show it, it was probably one of the best races of my career. We were very consistent throughout the entire race and able to post fast lap times. Unfortunately, our strategy didn’t completely pay off for us in the end. I’m quite pleased with the Conquest team results, sixth may not be the best result but we have to be realistic and realize it was my first weekend back. We finished ahead of a lot of guys who have been racing all season, I was able to make some good passes and the team was quite competitive. I am happy overall and I can’t wait to go to Mexico City. The Conquest Racing team has had great results on road courses so I think we will do very well there. Additionally, I want to thank the Juniper family for giving us this opportunity to race this weekend. It was great to show everyone that I’ve still got it and can be competitive.”
Alex Tagliani #8 PBS Equities Rocketsports Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Finished 7th) –
“It was a very good team effort. All weekend long we were working towards making a better car, and it was good in the race. We still lacked a little bit of overall grip in the slow corners, that is why we’re behind a little bit in terms of our competitors. But in general we had a good race. A couple of guys in front of us did an alternate strategy and got very lucky finishing on fumes, but if that hadn’t happened then we could have definitely finished in the top five. Considering all the events that happened this weekend, I think it was a very good effort from everyone in the Rocketsports Racing team.”
Neel Jani #21 Red Bull-Gulfstream Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Finished 8th) –
“I think it was the most difficult race this year for me so far, we had a very good call from the team at the end, with not changing tires just taking fuel, it definitely got me the top-10 spot. But otherwise I was struggling with the car quite a lot, I was unable to maintain straight away speed, so other drivers were able to over take me very easily. I had a fantastic start, fifth at the first corner, so I was happy but then throughout the race I had some problems, so eighth is where I started and where I finished, so it’s not bad.”
Paul Tracy #3 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Finished 9th) –
“I made a good start, got off the line well, and then got squeezed in the first corner by Servia. We touched just a little bit and I spun and that put us at the back, so we basically had to get on a different strategy. We did that and were able to get back towards the front, lead a little bit, try to make the strategy work. We just needed half a lap more of yellow and it never came. The yellows were all falling our way in the beginning and the strategy was working well. We were maybe in a position to win the race. We were going to try to go for it, just try to run. We thought we could make it around maybe two-thirds of the last lap, but it ran out coming onto the front straightaway on the white flag lap, so I came into the pits and by the time I got into the pits I had run out of fuel in the pit box and it wouldn’t start again. It’s disappointing, but we were up there, we made something happen. We made good out of a bad start. The team is working really hard and we’re getting back to where we should be finishing up on podiums. We just need some good luck.”
David Martinez #7 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Finished 10th) –
“I’m really happy, it was a difficult race but all the hard work I did over the weekend really paid off. It was a complicated weekend but I never stopped pushing and during the race I found myself racing for position against drivers that have a huge amount of experience and at a pace very close to Paul Tracy so I’m very satisfied with my performance. It’s only my second race in Champ Car and my first this year and I achieved another top ten, we have two top tens in two start in this series and I think that speaks very highly of the consistency and speed that we have. The problem in the pits with Will Power was just a racing incident, his team told him to go just as I was coming in and we touched. I feel bad because this was a very important race for him but his team made a mistake and I’m just glad that my car wasn’t damaged. I leave from this weekend with a lot of enthusiasm, I would’ve liked to qualify farther ahead but it was a very good race and I have a lot of confidence for Mexico. I think I will be able to give my fellow countrymen a great result.”
Graham Rahal #2 Medi | Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Finished 11th) –
“The Medi | Zone car was good but (Nelson) Philippe hit us pretty early on and that put us in the back and we went a lap down because of the stop. It was tough but we started to make up some positions when people started to fall out but of course when we need a yellow it doesn’t come. Early on there were a ton of yellows and I was expecting that was the way it would continue to be but it didn’t happen once we had our issues. That’s how it goes but the car was quick.”
Mario Dominguez #28 PCM Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Finished 12th) –
“It was a great experience to be back with PCM. The TECATE car was really fast and the Bridgestone tires were very consistent. It was very unfortunate we had the wing break because we had a strong car and we could have easily secured a top-five finish. On the other hand, the positive side is that the car was very strong all weekend and I think we are going to arrive in Mexico City with a very fast car. I learned a lot and I expect us to run up front in the TECATE car in Mexico City.”
Alex Figge #29 PCM Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Finished 13th) –
“I am a bit disappointed in our result but we had a good pace and it is unfortunate we had problems with my brakes at the end. We ran strong in the race and I was feeling confident and enjoying the race. I think I was running a bit aggressive when the brakes went, I probably should have backed off a bit at that point. I feel like we took a step forward this weekend. It’s a tough place here and coming in as a rookie with a rookie race engineer is tough, but we made a lot of developments throughout the weekend. My stops were great and my guys have done a great job all year there. I am really excited to get to Mexico City.”
Oriol Servia #22 Pay by Touch / PKV Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Finished 14th) –
“I am just very pleased with the whole weekend performance, I did one little mistake which unfortunately happened in the race and in Surfers Paradise you pay for a little mistake like that. I didn’t think it was that bad but a couple of corners later I realized it was, the toe link had broken so I had to basically stop and lost 3 laps. It was just unfortunate for the whole team considering I had just jumped into the car this weekend. The team was really outstanding and I think we all deserved the win that we were capable of. I am obviously disappointed but when you make a mistake pushing as hard as I was, and the whole team was, you know things can happen, they can happen to the best, you have to play with the limits. It was just encouraging the speed we had all weekend and I found the team had improved in many areas, the way they operated, the way everything worked. Definitely PKV is a winning team and has the potential to win a championship and I am just happy I gave them a good weekend.”
Katherine Legge #11 Dale Coyne Racing Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Finished 15th) –
“I don’t know how he hit me. I gave him enough room to pass me, but the next thing I knew his car was coming over mine. It is a shame that this incident happened because we probably would have had a top 10 finish today if it wasn’t for that. I just feel sorry for the team. They gave me a great car today. I would have loved to stay out there and finish the race, but the damage to the steering couldn’t be repaired. Hopefully we can end the season on a high note in Mexico City like we started the season, with a sixth place finish in Las Vegas.”
Will Power #5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Finished 16th) –
“Once again in the first stint we had to pit under yellow. All the cars are compressed. There’s a lot of mayhem in the pit lane. Unfortunately, I got sent out early. Just a simple mistake. The guy left a lollypop and sent into another car, which bent the steering arm, then we’re on the back foot. From that point on, the steering wasn’t straight. The suspension was slightly bent. So the car wasn’t behaving exactly how it should. Then I was trying to charge back through the field, got a run on Katherine Legge. I guess the car stepped out a little bit and grabbed her back wheel and threw me into the wall. A disappointing day. You know, once again, the same as last year, we have the car, had everything in place to win the race, but, you know, just bad luck. These things happen. Feel disappointed for all the fans that came out to watch us today. Feel disappointed for Craig Gore, as well. Unfortunately he couldn’t be here. You know, we’ll lift above it, move on. We’ve got to race in Mexico. Try and win that one.”
Dan Clarke #4 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (Finished 17th) -
“It’s really frustrating that we don’t get to race more, with the long breaks between events. We’re really gelling well together as a team and I’m anxious to be on track more often than we are. It’s difficult to carry the positive momentum that we’ve been developing when you have these seven week gaps. We had a good car today, and we’re developing as a team. I am confident that we will do well in Mexico, and hopefully lift this hex that has been following us all year.”
||Newman/ Haas/ Lanigan Racing
||Dale Coyne Racing
||Minardi Team USA
||Forsythe Championship Racing
||Forsythe Championship Racing
||Newman/ Haas/ Lanigan Racing
||Pacific Coast Motorsports
||Pacific Coast Motorsports
||Dale Coyne Racing
||Minardi Team USA