Champ Car Mexico City preview
The Gran Premio TECATE Presented by Banamex at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez also will feature two popular Mexican drivers looking to stir the local fanbase while Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and Robert Doornbos (#14 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) do battle for second place in the season standings and unofficial designation of pre-season "favorite" to capture next year's Vanderbilt Cup.
While the moves of Mario Dominguez (#28 TECATE Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and David Martinez (#7 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) will be closely monitored in Mexico, other eyes will turn to the battle for second place between Wilson and Doornbos.
The competition between the two at the 2.774-mile permanent road course promises to be fierce as both drivers gained some momentum at the last race. RuSPORT’s Wilson, who spent most of the season sitting in fourth place, moved ahead of Minardi Team USA’s Doornbos in the standings thanks to his win in Assen, Holland, in front of Doornbos’ home crowd. The Briton then increased his lead with a podium finish in Australia. His recent success and his past performances in Mexico City (one win, a second and two poles) place him as the favorite to claim the title of runner-up, but to do so he will have to face the charges of the “Flying Dutchman.”
Doornbos started the season with podiums in six of nine races, including two wins (Mont-Tremblant and San Jose). A couple of difficult races in Europe put him out of contention for the Championship title, but a strong run at Surfers Paradise put him back in the fight for “second-best.” His run from 14th to fourth in Australia helped him clinch the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year Award and increased his lead in the BBS Hard Charger standings to 11. The BBS Hard Charger Award will be given to the driver who gains the most positions from his qualifying position at each race over the course of the season.
Expect a fierce battle for the prestigious race title as all drivers want to end the season on the podium. Additionally, while Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) can still hope to take third place in the season standings away from Doornbos, the Australian is caught up in a fierce fight for fourth with five drivers still able to reach him. Fortunately for Power, he has received clearance from Champ Car medical officials to race in Mexico City after sustaining two hairline fractures to his left wrist in Australia. Armed with a special carbon fiber brace that he will have the chance to test with extra on-track time prior to Friday morning practice, the Team Australia driver will be able to defend his championship position.
Rookie Graham Rahal (#2 Medi|Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) is his closest competitor in fifth place, 14 points behind with 220. Rahal has scored four podium finishes this season and also is battling with PKV Racing’s Neel Jani (#21 Red Bull-Gulfstream Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and former Champ Car Atlantic rival Simon Pagenaud (#15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) of Team Australia for second place in the rookie of the year standings. Both Jani and Pagenaud have been consistent throughout the season, but Jani, who leads the French rookie by five markers, has climbed onto the podium three times while Pagenaud still searches for his first top-three finish.
Sitting between the two rookies in seventh place with 216 points is veteran Bruno Junqueira (#19 Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Cosworth DP01/Bridgestone), who has given Dale Coyne Racing its best-ever string of results with three podium finishes in the last three races. With 100 starts under his belt, the Brazilian has finished on the podium 34 times.
While some will be looking to improve their position in the final standings, Bourdais of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing will be soaking it all in as he competes in his final Champ Car World Series race before moving on to pursue his dream of Formula 1. The first driver to win four consecutive Championships in Champ Car history would like nothing more than to end his Champ Car career the same way he usually ends all his races--with a victory. Bourdais has always had much success at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez with two wins and a second place in the last four races.
With Bourdais saying his final goodbyes and on-track battles that promise to be even more exciting with an extra 50 hp on the Power-to-Pass, the crowd is in for quite a treat. But what the Mexican fans would love is to see one of their own come home with the big prize. Pacific Coast Motorsports’ Dominguez will be making his sixth appearance in Mexico City aboard a Champ Car. Dominguez’s best finish in his home race came in 2003 when he climbed onto the third step of the podium.
As for fellow Mexican Martinez, he will be making his second start in Mexico City driving for Forsythe Championship Racing, after having made his Champ Car debut at the road course in 2006, starting and finishing ninth. Spectators present at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez will also get the chance to follow Champ Car Atlantic driver David Garza, who recently signed on with Forsythe Championship Racing’s Atlantic team, as he makes some demonstration laps aboard a Formula BMW Americas car over the course of the weekend.
The first round of qualifying for the Gran Premio TECATE Presented by Banamex, Round 14 of 14 on the Champ Car World Series schedule, takes place Friday, Nov. 9, at 2 p.m. local time (3 p.m. ET). The final grid will be set on Saturday, Nov. 10, at 2 p.m. local (3 p.m. ET). The race goes green at 1 p.m. local time and will be broadcast live in the U.S. on ESPN2 on Sunday, Nov. 11, at 2 p.m. ET. TV Azteca will broadcast the race in Mexico on a one-hour tape delay at 3 p.m. ET.
GRAN PREMIO TECATE PRESENTADO POR BANAMEX
WHAT: Gran Premio Tecate Presentado por Banamex
WHERE: Mexico City, Mexico
WHEN: Friday—Sunday, November 9 -11
SUPPORT EVENTS: Campeonato Vintage - Vintage
CHAMP CAR SCHEDULE (All times local): FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 9 – 10:15 - 11:30 a.m., Champ Car practice; 2:00 - 3:00 p.m., Champ Car qualifying. SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 10 - 10:15 - 11:30 a.m., Champ Car practice; 2:00 - 3:00 p.m., Champ Car qualifying. SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11 - 9:00 - 9:30 a.m., Champ Car warmup; 1:00 p.m. GRAN PREMIO TECATE PRESENTADO POR BANAMEX
U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE (Eastern Time): SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 11 - GRAN PREMIO TECATE PRESENTADO POR
BANAMEX, ESPN2, 2:00 p.m. Live
2006 CHAMPION: Sebastien Bourdais
2005 POLESITTER: Justin Wilson
TRACK LAYOUT: 2.774-mile Permanent road course
RACE LENGTH: 66 laps (183.084 miles)
TRACK RECORDS: Qualifying (one lap) – 2006, Justin Wilson, 1:24.801 seconds (117.763 mph). Race – 2006, Sebastien Bourdais, 1:51:31.146 (98.504 mph) based on 66 laps (183.084 miles)
RACE ROUND: 14 of 14 in the 2007 Champ Car World Series.
2007 CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES POINTS LEADERS: 1, Sebastien Bourdais, Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, 332; 2, Justin Wilson, RuSPORT, 270; 3, Robert Doornbos, Minardi Team USA, 262 4, Will Power, Team Australia, 234; 5, Graham Rahal,
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing 220.
INSTANT REPLAY: Justin Wilson surprised everybody by grabbing the pole position despite a broken wrist. Bourdais who was starting second showed a glimpse of things to come when he passed Wilson on the lap 6 restart (after the caution came out for contact between Legge and Dominguez as the start). However, Wilson repaid the favor on lap 23 and dominated the middle stages of the race. The rains came on lap 26 and everybody stopped for rain tires. Bourdais made a gutsy move by choosing fuel only on his final pit stop. Wilson gained a four second advantage over the Frenchman. With seven laps to go Wilson’s lead had shrunk to 2.7 seconds despite Bourdais being on worn wet-weather tires. With four laps to go Wilson’s lead had evaporated to less than a second. The last lap battle was one to remember as both drivers even made contact in Turn 6, it was enough for Bourdais to win and Wilson had to settle for second.
VITAL RACE STATISTICS
Time of Race: 1:51.31.146
Average Speed: 98.504 mph
Margin of Victory: 3.528 seconds
Caution Flags: One for five laps.
Lap Leaders: Wilson, 40, Bourdais, 24, Power, 1, Tagliani, 1
MEDIA TIP SHEET
Battle For Second: With the 2007 Champ Car World Series title already clinched by Sebastien Bourdais, some of the focus will shift on the remaining positions in the final point standings. Currently, Justin Wilson holds an eight-point advantage over Robert Doornbos, 270-262. With a maximum of 34 points available, Doornbos, who clinched the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year Award at Australia, is the only driver capable of mathematically overhauling Wilson for runner-up honors in the points.
The heat is on for third to tenth: Will Power, who now stands fourth with 234 points, could wind up third overall based on his performance versus that of Doornbos. However, the battle for fourth tightens up considerably with no less than five drivers in reach of Power. Graham Rahal, fifth overall with 220 points, is only two points ahead of fellow rookie Neel Jani. And those drivers are being hotly pursued by Bruno Junqueira, who has leaped from nowhere to seventh thanks to three straight podium finishes. Junqueira, runner-up in the Series in 2002, 2003 and 2004, is in position to finish in the top five of the championship for the sixth time in seven years. But Junqueira could have company in the hunt for a higher championship finish. Rookie Simon Pagenaud and Oriol Servia are right behind the Brazilian driver with 213 and 212 points, respectively. Alex Tagliani stands 10th with 197 points and could also improve his position significantly, but is in no danger of losing his top-10 status. Fellow Canadian Paul Tracy is his nearest rival, but the 2003 champion is 47 points behind in 11th place.
Race Favorites: Since Mexico City returned to the Champ Car World Series calendar in 2002 (it hosted races in 1980 and 1981), there have been five races and four different winners. Kenny Brack won the 2002 event with Paul Tracy capturing the race in his championship season of 2003. Sebastien Bourdais joined three-time champion Rick Mears as the only repeat winners of the event, having won the race in 2004 and last year (Mears won in 1980-81). In between, Justin Wilson won in 2005. With seven wins to his credit, Bourdais has to emerge as the pre-race favorite, but Wilson has always found the track to his liking. Accompanying his victory, the Briton has second- and fourth-place finishes in three appearances. Wilson also has captured the pole the past two years and started third as a rookie in 2004. Tracy also runs well at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, starting in the top 10 in each appearance (including the pole in 2003) and finishing third in 2005. He missed last year’s race due to a shoulder injury suffered in an off-track incident.
By virtue of their current status in the point standings, rookie Robert Doornbos and third-year man Will Power figure to be competitive over the weekend. Doornbos could emerge as Series runner-up after the checkered flag falls, although this will be his first visit to the circuit. Power, in only his second Champ Car start, finished 10th in 2005 and started fourth and finished on the podium last year.
Local Heroes: Not to be overlooked are the two drivers who can expect the most fan support: Mexico’s capable veteran driver Mario Dominguez and newcomer David Martinez. Dominguez has won a pair of Champ Car events in his six-year career in the Series while Martinez has scored top-10 finishes in both of his Champ Car starts. Martinez made his debut in Mexico City, subbing for the injured Paul Tracy and following up with a respectable ninth-place finish. A year later, Martinez is a teammate to Tracy at Forsythe Championship Racing and hopes to improve on his steady drive to 10th at Surfers Paradise last month.
Power-to-Pass: In an effort to enhance passing and create more racing, the Champ Car World Series will increase the horsepower on its Power-to-Pass function (P2P) from 50 to 100. Hoping to take advantage of the longest straightaway in the Series, the increase is being implemented for the first time this season. According to Tony Cotman, Champ Car Race Director and EVP, Operations, the decision was made to wait until the championship had been decided before allowing drivers to try it. Drivers will also receive 75 seconds of P2P time, an increase 15 seconds over the normal 60 seconds. The Power-to-Pass function on the Cosworth XFE raises the boost pressure inside the engine at the press of the P2P button, located on the steering wheel. Once pressed, the increased boost stays in effect until the driver cracks the throttle.
They’re Back: Of the 18 drivers who started last year at Mexico City, 11 are returning for 2007. Bourdais, Wilson, Power, Junqueira, Tagliani, Servia and Philippe finished in the first seven spots and Martinez was ninth. Katherine Legge, Mario Dominguez and Dan Clarke also started the 2006 race. Paul Tracy will return to the track after missing last year’s event due to an injury. Rookies Robert Doornbos, Graham Rahal, Neel Jani, Simon Pagenaud and Alex Figge will be making their Mexico City debuts. Race fans will also get to see the DP01 in action for the first time as Champ Car’s new chassis completes its first season of competition.
Since being founded in 1984 Dale Coyne Racing has been a fan favorite because of the heart the team has shown, but their results have never really shown the potential of the team. While in Europe it all changed as Bruno Junqueira was one step of the podium away from winning at Zolder and followed that up at Assen by finishing third. Junqueira’s European performance doubled the number of podiums Dale Coyne had earned in the previous 23 years. Before then the team had two third place runs, one with Oriol Servia in 2004 and one with Roberto Moreno in 1996. Junqueira added yet another podium finish to tally with a third place in Australia.
So far this season eleven different drivers have made their way to podium finishes in the Champ Car World Series. Three of those have been Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year candidates (Robert Doornbos, Neel Jani and Graham Rahal). Seven of them have been from Europe (Sebastien Bourdais, Dan Clarke, Robert Doornbos, Jan Heylen, Neel Jani, Oriol Servia, and Justin Wilson) Australia, Canada and Brazil have also been represented on the podium by Will Power, Paul Tracy and Bruno Junqueira respectively.
Every little point that a Champ Car driver can score during the weekend is important when it comes to the point chase. When looking at picking up every point he can, Sebastien Bourdais has it down to an art. This season he has collected 20 out of the 52 bonus points that have been available this season. In Champ Car bonus points are given for the driver posting the fastest lap in each qualifying session, recording the fastest race lap and improving the most positions during the race. Bourdais has collected 12 of his points during qualifying, but where he has really excelled is that he has recorded 8 out of the 13 points for the fastest lap of the race. Will Power is currently second in the fight for these valuable points gaining 7 in qualifying, 1 for recording the fastest race lap and 1 for improving most positions during a race.
By winning his 31st career pole position in Zolder, Sebastien Bourdais is currently sixth on the all time career pole position list. The only drivers that are ahead of him on the list are Michael Andretti (32), Rick Mears (40), Bobby Unser (49), A.J. Foyt (53), and Mario Andretti (67).
Sebastien Bourdais recorded his 30th career win in Australia, which places him in eighth on the all time race winner roster, one win short of tying Paul Tracy’s 31 career wins. In all of those in the top ten the Frenchman has less than half of their starts at 72, meaning he has won over 40% of the races he has entered in Champ Car competition. As for podium finishes he currently has 43 which translates into him finishing on the podium in 60% of his Champ Car starts.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is named for the famous Mexican brothers Pedro and Ricardo Rodriguez and was modeled after Italy's Formula One Monza track. The track got its name shortly after it opened when Ri-cardo Rodriguez tragically lost his life here in a non-title event (Ricardo's brother Pedro would also lose his life behind the wheel two years later). The circuit hosted its first Formula One Mexican Grand Prix one year later and remained part of the F1 calendar through 1970, when the track suffered serious crowd control problems and after the 1970 event the FIA refused to give the Mexicans a new World Championship date because they were unable to guarantee that the crowd would not invade the track. Champ Car made its first appearance on the circuit in 1980 and 1981, but did not return again until 2002. After the last F1 Mexican Grand Prix in 1992, a baseball sta-dium was built on part of the circuit, so when Champ Car series began coming to the track in 2002, it was partially bypassed by a series of sharp turns entering and exiting the baseball field and reentering the track.
BY THE NUMBERS
1962 – The year the first race was ran at Autodromo Her-manos Rodriguez. 63 – In 2004 Sebastien Bourdais led all 63 laps of the Mexico City race to capture his first cham-pionship title. 12 – The least number of laps a winner in Mexico City has led (Kenny Brack, 2002). 17 – The num-ber of turns on the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriquez course. 6 – The furthest back any driver has started and won the Grand Prix of Mexico City (Kenny Brack, 2002 and Rick Mears, 1981). 4 – In four out of seven races the series champion has gone on to win the race. 4 – The most times a yellow flag has flown during a Grand Prix in Mexico City. 3 – Three drivers that call Mexico home have led laps during a Champ Car race in Mexico City (Michel Jourdain Jr., 2002; Adrian Fernandez, 2003; and Rodolfo Lavin 2005).
PRE-RACE QUOTES MEXICO CITY
Sebastien Bourdais #1 McDonalds Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (1st, 332 points) - “I hope the McDonald’s team can put on a good show again in Mexico City. Obviously you don’t want to finish your career in the series with some frustration or regret. It would be great to have a good weekend again. We’ll give our very best and hope we can finish in style. It’s a really fun track. Obviously it’s very bumpy which is the only downside but it makes it more challenging because it’s difficult to read it and the grip is not its best. Obviously the fact that we are at a higher altitude, the top speed is quite high. There are some very different corners and so-called chicanes but it is pretty fast. There are some left and right corners with some slow, very minimum speed corners and it goes all through the ranks. It’s has everything. It really is a fun and challenging track. You need to find the right balance, the right setup which is always a big compromise because of the slow and fast corners.”
Justin Wilson #9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (2nd, 270 points) – “The Autodromo [Hermanos Rodriguez] is a track I really enjoy and I hope we can continue where we left off last year. Mexico City has always been a successful event for us as a team, so we’re looking forward to going out and getting pole position and will be trying hard to win the race. Finishing 2nd in the championship is really important to the whole team and everyone at RuSPORT is determined to go out on top. On Friday and Saturday we’ll be completely focused on going for pole position. If we can do that, we’ll have a good shot at the race win and 2nd in the championship.”
Robert Doornbos #14 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (3rd, 262 points) – “It’s a shame that the Champ Car season is coming to an end but time flies when you’re having fun! I think it’s great that Mexico is hosting the final race, and even though the Championship has already been decided in favor of Sebastian Bourdais, I would like to announce a very hard battle in who will become the vice-champion of CCWS in 2007. I know that I’m one of only a few drivers who has never seen the circuit but that has been the case almost every weekend this season. I trust my team and engineers’ experience, and with my motivation being as high as at the start of the season I’m sure we can do a good job and hopefully finish where we started the season….on the podium!!!”
Will Power #5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (4th, 234 points) - “Mexico City is a track I really enjoy. This will be my third time back. Last year I got my first podium in Champ Car there. After the last couple of races we are definitely due for a bit of good luck and I would be disappointed not to have a strong finish to the season. We found some really good things when we tested the Aussie Vineyards car in Sebring that I think will work for this track, so I expect to be strong in the first session and look to do the same this year and end the season on a high in Mexico.”
Graham Rahal #2 Medi | Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (5th, 220 points) - “I’m looking forward to racing in Mexico City for the first time. The track definitely suits my style because it has very fast corners and is very windy for a long duration. It’s definitely quick and favors my style so hopefully the Medi | Zone team can finish the season with a good result and hang on to fifth place. I came to the race last year as a spectator. It was very interesting because it was run in the wet and dry and everyone had to anticipate the changes. It was very difficult. Hopefully it will be another good race this year and we can be one of the contenders. Having to adapt quickly to new layouts is something I think we all have had to get used to in this series. We have all grown up having to get used to new circuits very quickly. You basically have to show up and do a good job. I watch as many tapes as possible, pay close attention on the track walk and look at as much data as I can.”
Bruno Junqueira #19 Sonny’s Bar-B-Q Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (7th, 216 points) - "We want to continue the streak of three straight podium finishes by concluding the 2007 Champ Car World Series season with a win for the Dale Coyne Racing team. The team has done a great job these last three races by giving me a two third's and a second place finish. I would love to give Dale Coyne Racing their first win in the series this weekend in Mexico City. Our goal is to run another strong race so that we can capture fifth place in the final driver points standings."
Simon Pagenaud #15 Aussie Vineyards Coworth/DP01/Bridgestone (8th, 213 points) – “I’m really looking forward to the Mexico City race. In 2005, Mexico City was my very first Champ Car race that I saw live, so it really stood out in my mind and to get to race there this year for the first time, is extremely exciting. I love the city and the fans seem to be great, so it will be very interesting to see how we do. The last couple of races Team Australia and the Aussie Vineyards car has really improved and I am looking to have a good result this weekend and I can’t wait to get back to a road course.”
Alex Tagliani #8 Rocketsports Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (10th, 197 points) – “Going to Mexico City is always a little bit sad because it is our last race of the Champ Car season. However, it is always a great event, which brings out the best in the Champ Car drivers and the people of Mexico. Mexico City’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is a drivers’ track that is unlike any other on the Champ Car circuit. It combines fast straights with very technical curve sections that challenge team and driver to develop a combination that balances mechanical grip, straight line speed and overall stability to create a winning car. I look forward to the challenge, both personally and with my Rocketsports team, in hopes of finishing the 2007 Champ Car season off on a high note.”
Dan Clarke #4 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (13h, 125 points) – “I love racing in Mexico, and with the additional P2P it should make for some great racing! I feel we’ve really improved as a team over the course of the season. Even though the end results aren’t necessarily what we wanted, we have all made great strides. There has been a lot of bad luck following me around, but I can’t let that get to me - I just take the races one weekend at a time. This is our last chance in 2007 to prove we’re front runners, and I’m confident in the guys, and in myself, that this is a realistic goal.”
Katherine Legge #11 Dale Coyne Racing Coworth/DP01/Racing (16th, 102 points) – "It's been a tough season for our team. We have been running a lot better in the past three races. Hopefully we can end the season on a high note in Mexico City like we started the season with a six place finish in Las Vegas. I would love to end the season with a podium finish."
Alex Figge #29 PCM Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (17th, 85 points) - “I am really excited for the race in Mexico City this weekend. It is the home race for Mario (Dominguez) my teammate and from what I understand it gets pretty exciting down there. It hasn’t been an easy season, we’ve had a lot of ups and downs but we’ve also made a lot of progress. I am looking forward to ending the season on a high note for my team and TECATE.”
Mario Dominguez #28 PCM Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (18th, 62 points) – “I am very excited to be racing in Mexico City again, having TECATE as a sponsor on my car makes me very proud and I hope I can do a fantastic job for them. Nothing would make me happier than giving the Mexican fans a great result in my home country.”
Nelson Philippe #34 Juniper Group Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (19th, 19 points) – “As always, I'm thrilled to be back in Mexico as this will once again feel like my home race. I came here a month ago and did lots of media for Champ Car and found myself having a great time with all my Mexican friends. After coming off a positive result in Surfers, I am very excited about getting on track on Friday. The Conquest Racing Team has a great road course car and I am eager to see how the DP01 will react when I throw it around the S's of the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez! We will only be satisfied with a podium finish in the race and that will be our goal all weekend. Even though I may have missed almost the whole season, I feel up to speed and confident that I can bring the guys another trophy. I am also looking forward to the 100HP Power to Pass for this race, I am sure it will bring lots of excitement for fans as well as drivers with many more passing opportunities!”
David Martinez #7 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone (21st, 11 points) – “I can’t wait for the weekend to get started! I’ve been in Mexico City for almost a week now and we’ve been working really hard promoting the race and making sure that this event is as successful as possible. The buzz and the excitement are definitely building up and I think that we are going to put on a great show for all the Mexican fans. I’m very excited to be able to race in front of my people again, and I’m especially excited because AXTEL and Tecate have come on board. It’s great to have Mexican sponsors supporting Champ Car again, we’ve just found out that the contract for this race has been extended so we need to keep building momentum so we can get Champ Car back to where it was a few years ago in Mexico.” Champ Car
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