With the title safely in the pocket of the departing Sebastien Bourdais, most of the attention at the season-ending Champ Car Mexican Grand Prix will be on whether Justin Wilson or Robert Doornbos can secure the runner-up spot.
The Briton leads the Dutchman by eight points, 270-262, and at stake is not just ‘best of the rest’ bragging rights, but also the unofficial designation as Bourdais’ heir apparent.
Wilson, whose team RuSPORT shuts down after the race, started the season more slowly than the rookie Doornbos, but a run of strong results in Europe and Australia gives him the momentum in this battle of the ex-Minardi Formula One drivers.
Wilson said: “The Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez is a track I really enjoy and I hope we can continue where we left off last year. Mexico City has always been a successful event for us as a team, so we’re looking forward to going out and getting pole position and will be trying hard to win the race.
“Finishing second in the championship is really important to the whole team and everyone at RuSPORT is determined to go out on top. On Friday and Saturday we’ll be completely focused on going for pole position. If we can do that, we’ll have a good shot at the race win and second in the championship.”
Doornbos retorted: “Even though the Championship has already been decided in favour of Sebastien Bourdais, I would like to announce a very hard battle in who will become the vice-champion of CCWS in 2007.”
His team-mate, Dan Clarke, has had a torrid 2007 season in which success has been mixed with embarrassing mistakes and official punishment. He is looking forward to greater overtaking possibilities in Mexico as a result of the decision to make more use of the “Power to Pass” overtaking button.
He said: “I love racing in Mexico, and with the additional P2P it should make for some great racing!
“I feel we’ve really improved as a team over the course of the season. Even though the end results aren’t necessarily what we wanted, we have all made great strides. There has been a lot of bad luck following me around, but I can’t let that get to me – I just take the races one weekend at a time.
“This is our last chance in 2007 to prove we’re front runners, and I’m confident in the guys, and in myself, that this is a realistic goal.”
Over at Dale Coyne Racing, Katherine Legge has been overshadowed somewhat by the unexpected success of her team-mate Bruno Junqueira. The veteran Brazilian has given three consecutive podiums to the team, which is better known as plucky but underfunded triers, while Legge has struggled.
She said: “It’s been a tough season for our team. We have been running a lot better in the past three races. Hopefully we can end the season on a high note in Mexico City like we started the season with a six place finish in Las Vegas. I would love to end the season with a podium finish.”
But at least she’s racing, which is more than Ryan Dalziel seems likely to do. The young Scot was quietly dropped by Pacific Coast Motorsports after the European races and replaced by Mexican Mario Dominguez.
There was some talk afterwards of Atlantic Series team Jensen Motorsport entering a single car in Mexico City, with Dalziel as one of the likeliest choices as driver, boss Eric Jensen saying “Ryan now has an almost complete season of experience in the DP01 and is also clearly talented”. However there is nothing in the pre-race build-up on the Champ Car site to suggest this has come to fruition.