Champ Car: Bourdais wins, Wilson is runner-up

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarWednesday, October 24th, 2007

 
 

Er, a little catching up to do now the Lewis Hamilton roadshow is trundling out of town.

Justin Wilson is looking forward to a cracking end to his Champ Car season after finishing runner-up to Sebastien Bourdais at Surfers Paradise, moving him to second in the championship with one race left to go in the series.

Bourdais secured his title at the Lexmark Indy 300 on a street circuit at Surfers Paradise in Australia. Finishing anywhere in the top 12 would have ensured his season victory – but he brought his car home first just to make absolutely sure, sealing the title and the 30th win of his career.

Wilson came second in the race, snagging second in the series, heightening speculation that he will sign for the Newman/Haas/Lanigan (N/H/L) team next year to replace the departing Bourdais.

Wilson faced a difficult start to the race when his car bogged down on the grid. He explained: “As I left the start line, I shifted from first to second, but got neutral instead.

“A couple of people got past me, but I just stayed calm and worked on getting my positions back.”

But he was able to avoid a lot of pushing and shoving at the first pit stops as a result of lane position and fuelling strategy. As a result he was able to gain places and revitalise his race.

On Lap 40, Wilson was leading the race, and the fuel strategy that had kept him among the leaders brought him in for his last stop on Lap 44.

Bourdais, on a slightly different strategy, stayed out longer and assumed the lead on Lap 48 leaving Wilson unable to close the five-second gap between them, partly due to braking and tyre wear problems.

Speaking post-race, Wilson said: “It was a very eventful but fun race. The issues started straight away, with me missing second gear and catching neutral instead.

“Then at my first pitstop we changed from the alternate Red Bridgestone tyres to the standard black tyres and the car picked up a lot of understeer and lost a lot of grip.

“Later in the race I was behind Oriol when he brushed the wall. He lost a lot of momentum and I was able to get around him as well. Then, I glazed the brakes in the last stint and was having trouble stopping and I knew I would have to drive really hard to catch Sebastien.

“So I decided to save my second place rather than wreck the car trying to catch him. Overall, the car was great all race long and I was really having quite a good time out there.

“It’s nice to finish on the podium here in Surfers in front of all these mad Australians. Now I want to end the season with a win in Mexico City.”

He said he found it “a bit frustrating” to be playing bridesmaid to Bourdais’ bride for a second season, but acknowledged the “great job” his opponent had done.

“I really wanted to beat him before he went to F1. Obviously, that’s not going to happen now so all I can do is wish him well with his new team.”

The final round of the 2007 Champ Car World Series season takes place in Mexico City from November 9.

* Bourdais is, of course, heading off to Scuderia Toro Rosso (a phrase we still have trouble typing out without sniggering) for the launch of his glittering F1 career alongside fellow fresh-faced rookie Sebastian Vettel.

Can you tell them apart? Because, frankly, we have some trouble. Perhaps this much-vaunted ‘innovative marketing strategy’ of Red Bull’s actually involves cloning new drivers. Any Coulthardian DNA in there? If so, better put the pit babes under lock and key…

Ahem. What we’re really wondering about: with Wilson establishing his credentials outside Formula One, should Minardi’s former Flying Giraffe get another seat at the top table? Possibly with a car that’ll allow him to demonstrate his talent a bit better?

Or should he stay at Champ Car and make the most of a good thing? Why not tell us what you think via the comments?

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