Doornbos persists for another podium
Robert Doornbos was not going to be denied a podium finish. But to get it, the rookie had to improve 10 spots from his 13th-place starting position in Sunday's Champ Car World Series Grand Prix of Houston at Reliant Park.
Doornbos got just what he wanted. He took third place and in the process earned his second podium finish of the season.
"We started with a really good one in Vegas, where we were competitive every session," Doornbos said. "To finish on the podium in your debut is great. In Long Beach (13th place), we had a mechanical problem, and that happens in racing.
"You just have to get yourself over it, and luckily there were only a few days in between that and the next race."
And fortunately for Doornbos, he had the car to overcome his poor qualifying mark.
The 25-year old native of the Netherlands wasted little time in moving toward the front. He flew past five drivers by the time the cars were hitting the opening turn.
Not bad for someone just getting used to rolling starts.
"I made the biggest jump at the start," Doornbos said. "These rolling starts — I am starting to get the hang of them. I went on the inside, and I passed five or six guys into Turn 1, which is quite close and quite exciting."
And quite crazy, especially on a course where it is tough to make a pass.
"I'm sure all the eyes were on the first and second rows, but I was there in the back coming on the inside and taking a lot of risk," Doornbos said. "You have to make up time, and there were definitely slower cars on the grid in front of me, which I didn't want to be stuck behind. So I took a big risk, and it worked out."
That's an understatement. Doornbos went from 13th to seventh by the time he had made his first circuit.
Doornbos knew at that point he had a car that could get to the front and contend for a win. Which meant he and his team had come a long way since unloading the car Thursday for his first race in Houston.
"At the beginning of the weekend, we were really struggling around this place," Doornbos said. "I have never seen such a bumpy circuit in my life. At the end, I enjoyed it. During the race, it was really fun driving the circuit, because you do have to be committed every lap, and there is no point to relax.
"The car just came together in qualifying. We messed it up. We could have had a better lap. We knew the car was quick for the race, better than what our grid position suggested, and we proved it with very fast lap times and good strategy."
With the third-place finish, Doornbos leaves Houston third in the overall point standings with 61 — just 12 behind leader Sébastien Bourdais and nine behind second-place Will Power. Houston Chronicle