DEFENDING CHAMP CAR CHAMPION SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS PACES FIRST-DAY QUALIFYING AT GRAND PRIX OF EDMONTON
 
 

EDMONTON, Alberta, Canada (July 21, 2006) – Sebastien Bourdais had the worst road-course starting spot of his three-year Champ Car career in his last visit to Edmonton, starting 10th before climbing through the field to win the race.

The two-time defending Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion made his life a lot easier this time around, securing himself a front-row starting spot for Sunday’s West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix Presented by The Brick by leading the first round of qualifying on a sunny Friday at JAGflo Speedway as a crowd of 47,932 gathered to see the stars of the Champ Car World Series.

Bourdais ran three laps that would have captured the first-day pole, but only needed one of them to score the day’s victory.  His best lap of 59.895 seconds (118.588 mph) earned him the right to start in the front row and also added another championship point to his series-leading total, boosting his lead to 24 over second-placed A.J. Allmendinger.

Perhaps more impressive was the fact that Bourdais blistered the field without using his red-walled Bridgestone alternate Potenzas, saving two sets of the softer-compound tires for use in tomorrow’s final qualifying. Bourdais’ best lap gave him the top spot by .172 seconds over local favorite Paul Tracy, who settled for second among those that tested the 1.973-mile circuit today. Third place went to Bruno Junqueira, who snared the third spot on his last lap of the day, stopping the clocks at 60.085 seconds (118.213 mph)

Allmendinger led the bulk of the field on track eight minutes into the session and immediately set his sights on Nelson Philippe, as Philippe was the quickest among those that went on track as soon as the 30-minute session got underway. Bourdais, Tracy, Junqueira and Cristiano da Matta quickly followed the Californian on track, but would all go back to Pit Lane shortly after as Allmendinger found the Turn One wall.

The Forsythe Championship Racing pilot wiggled coming into the high-speed first turn, then did a half-spin and backed into the wall, taking the rear wing off his car and ending his qualifying session. The winner of the last three Champ Car events would end up in the 17th spot but will have a second session tomorrow to improve his starting spot.

He fared better than Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year points leader Will Power, who was unable to compete in today’s qualifying after a damaging crash in the pre-qualifying practice session. Power spun coming through the final chicane and slid through the infield grass, hitting the safety barrier and damaging his Team Australia mount. Power did not card a time in Friday’s qualifying but expects to be available for tomorrow’s final session.

Tracy did use his alternate Bridgestone Potenzas for his second stint and quickly moved to the top spot on his fourth lap. Bourdais waited until late in his second stint to hang his best laps, taking the pole on his 10th pass and carding his best time on his 13th trip around the 14-turn circuit. Junqueira vaulted ahead of Justin Wilson on his final lap, dropping Wilson to fourth while his RuSPORT teammate da Matta scored the fifth spot with a time of 60.412 seconds (117.573 mph).

Philippe ended up sixth on the day while his CTE Racing – HVM teammate Dan Clarke overcame a couple of off-track excursions to score the seventh position on the first-day grid. The PKV Racing duo of Oriol Servia and Katherine Legge finished eighth and tenth respectively while rookie Charles Zwolsman split the PKV pair with a time of 61.393 seconds (115.694 mph) to finish ninth.