<
>

Bourdais wins third straight with ease

7/11/2004

TORONTO -- The look of surprise on the face of Sebastien Bourdais made Jimmy Vasser laugh.

"It was pretty wild out there and I had a great seat for a lot
of the action,'' said Vasser, the runner-up in the Toronto Molson
Indy. "Apparently, it was all behind Sebastien.''

Bourdais somehow avoided trouble Sunday on the way to his third
Champ Car win in a row and didn't even realize how chaotic it was
on the tight 1.755-mile, 10-turn street course at the edge of
downtown Toronto.

After the race, Bourdais listened closely, looking somewhat
surprised as Vasser and third-place finisher Patrick Carpentier
talked about the wild race that included seven caution flags and
plenty of collisions and near misses.

"About the only thing I can say is I'm glad I was out front
because it looks like it was real crazy out there,'' Bourdais said.
"Apparently, I missed a lot of it. I just tried to keep my nose
clean and stay focused out there.''

The 25-year-old Frenchman started from the pole and was
virtually assured of his fourth win of the season and taking over
the season point lead from Bruno Junqueira when his Newman/Haas
Racing teammate crashed on the first turn of the race.

Bourdais was totally in charge throughout the caution-filled
race that was ended at just 84 laps -- 11 laps early -- because of a
1-hour and 45-minute time limit.

Bourdais' seventh career victory and fourth in the last five
races moved the second-year Champ Car driver to a 28-point
(164-136) lead over Junqueira after six of 15 events. Carpentier is
third with 129 points and Paul Tracy fourth with 108.

Vasser, who also managed to avoid trouble throughout the race,
got one last shot at the leader on a restart two laps from the end.
But the former series champion came up 1.396 seconds (about 20
car-lengths) short.

"For sure, I was trying to stay with him in case he made a
mistake,'' said Vasser, who got his first podium finish since
becoming an owner-driver at the start of the season. "But there
was no grip out there and I was just trying to save myself and not
do anything stupid.''

Mario Haberfeld finished fourth, followed by hometown favorite
Tracy, rookie Gaston Mazzacane and Alex Tagliani.

Defending series champion Tracy and nemesis Tagliani, whom Tracy
has blamed for putting him far behind in the 2004 points race,
stayed away from each other Sunday, but each was penalized twice
for running into other cars.

Bourdais' task became easier when Junqueira, who came into the
race with a two-point lead over Bourdais, collided with Mario
Dominguez, taking both of them out of the race.

Tracy, trying to turn around a disappointing season at the track
where he won from the pole a year ago, started second and was able
to pressure Bourdais for a while.

But the native of suburban Scarborough fell behind rookie Justin
Wilson on his first pit stop.

Battling with Wilson for second, Tracy came up short on an
outside pass, darted to the inside and ran into the slower car of
Wilson as the latter started to slide. Champ Car immediately
penalized Tracy for avoidable contact, sending him slowly down pit
lane for a drive-through that took him out of contention.

Tracy was penalized with another drive-through later in the race
after crashing into Michel Jourdain Jr. as Tracy charged off of pit
road on cold tires.

Gerald Forsythe, who is both the owner of Tracy's car and one of
the owners of the Champ Car World Series, was furious, particularly
about the first penalty.

"I could take four or five people out of the stands over there
and they'd do a better job than the Champ Car officials,'' Forsythe
said.

Tracy, who was fined $15,000 last month in Portland, Ore., after
criticizing officials for allegedly allowing Tagliani to block him
for a dozen laps, sarcastically said the officials "did a fine job
today.''