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Champ Car adds fresh start to Cleveland GP
In past years, one could not stand still for the start of the annual Grand Prix of Cleveland. This year, the drivers will have to.

For the first time in its 26-year history, the GPC will begin from a standing start, which Champ Car officials say should enhance, not detract, from the annual dash into the signature hairpin first turn of the race at Burke Lakefront Airport the weekend of June 22-24.

"No matter what kind of start, Cleveland offers the excitement of what I call the 'Turn One Vortex,' " said Tony Cotman, Champ Car's vice president of operations. "That's Cleveland, no matter what we do.

“I like standing starts for a couple of reasons. One, I think it’s far more adrenaline for the fans and for the drivers. And, on a standing start, you never know who is going to get off the line better than anyone else. You could be starting five, and in position one by the first turn if you got yourself a good start.”

Initially, there was uneasy feelings from the drivers about a standing start.

“I’m not sold on the standing starts,” Graham Rahal said earlier this season. “I think it should be fun and will make a show for the fans. But it will be tricky with a turbo engine because you’ve got to bank on that 45 pounds of boost being there at the moment you drop the clutch. That will be very difficult to do.”

The standing start was tried in Sunday’s Champ Car race at Portland, cleanly, and came away with rave reviews — even from those who were skeptical.

“I’m pretty happy that my bad visions did not happen,” said Sebastien Bourdais, the Portland race winner, current points leader and three-time series champ, to the Portland media.

Cotman said there still are issues to be worked out with the standing starts, but it is here to stay.

“We already do it in the [developmental] Atlantic Series,” he said. “For me it makes no sense to try and train and develop young drivers, yet we have two different procedures. I’m not saying we’ll be doing standing starts at every track, but my intention is to do it at a majority of them without questions.

“We’re still in the learning stages here, but going by the first one, we got off on the right foot. We’ve still got to make adjustments, and we’ll do that as we go, but we’re headed in the right direction.” Cleveland.com

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