Mont-Tremblant Day 1: Doornbos on top
MONT-TREMBLANT – The wait is finally over. It took 39 years but Champ Cars have returned to the track at the Circuit Mont-Tremblant. It might have only been for a private test session for the seven teams and 12 drivers present but hearing the song of the turbo-charged Cosworth engines around the 2.65-mile permanent road course was music to the ears of everyone present and it was even more delightful for the stars of the Champ Car World Series.
Not only was it a sweet sound to the ears of rookie Robert Doornbos (#14 Minardi Team USA Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who clocked the fastest unofficial time of the day (1:17.97) but it was a tune that Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgetone) had been waiting to hear since he injured himself during practice in Long Beach last month. The Forsythe Championship Racing driver might have only been eighth on the time charts (1:19.02) but that didn’t matter.
“It feels great, I have been sitting around for the last five weeks and I definitely know that I am not ready to retire! I was driving my wife and my friends crazy. It’s good to be back in the car again and get busy again, this is where I want to be,” expressed the Canadian who said he didn’t feel any pain while behind the wheel of his DP01. “Obviously standing around all day it can get uncomfortable, it’s going to take a little while longer before not having any aches and pains but when I am in the car, I feel fine.”
Making headlines today, aside from Tracy’s return to the cockpit, was all the praise the layout of the track received. Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing's Graham Rahal (#2 Medi | Zone Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) gave it an “awesome” while his fellow rookie Simon Pagenaud of Team Australia (#15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) was at a loss of words trying to describe it, but the huge smile on his face said everything. Alex Tagliani (#8 Wal-Mart Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) of RSPORTS, who competed here at the start of his career, couldn’t be happier to return “home”.
“It’s a fun track to drive and it’s a really quick track. It is also very weird to see all these big transporters in the paddock of Tremblant. We’re finally here,” exclaimed the French Canadian. “I think it is going to be a very good race for the spectators to watch. It’s amazing with our cars, with the speeds we can achieve. I am quite amazed with the speeds we go and when the car is running fine, like today, it makes it easier.”
The final word comes back to Tagliani's teammate at RSPORTS, Justin Wilson (#9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who gives a pretty accurate description of the track. “It’s a spectacular track. It’s fast, it’s fun, it’s flowing and this place is not for the faint hearted!”
The Champ Car World Series teams will be back on track tomorrow morning for a second and final day of testing in preparation for the upcoming Mazda Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland Presented by Joe’s Sports and Outdoors.
Mont Tremblant Unofficial Test Times
1. Robert Doornbos – 1:17.97 122.35 mph
2. Dan Clarke – 1:18.10
3. Sebastien Bourdais – 1:18.19
4. Simon Pagenaud – 1:18.21
5. Will Power – 1:18.41
6. Graham Rahal – 1:18.45
7. Justin Wilson – 1:18.61
8. Alex Tagliani – 1:18.98
9. Paul Tracy – 1:19.02
10. Tristan Gommendy – 1:19.21
11. Alex Figge – 1:20.77
12. Ryan Dalziel – 1:20.87 Champ Car