Bourdais beats Tracy by a straightaway
SAN JOSE, Calif. -- Sebastien Bourdais drove an almost perfect race on an imperfect track on Sunday, pulling away at the end to win the San Jose Grand Prix.
"I think I was in the preferred position, but it was not an easy day," said Bourdais, who started from the pole and led 63 of the 93 laps on the way to a dominating victory.
The combination of a washboard-like track and looming concrete walls on the narrow downtown street circuit took out half the 18-car field during the 75-minute, timed race Sunday. But Bourdais, the reigning Champ Car World Series champion, managed to avoid the pitfalls and came away with his second win in a row and third of the season.
"I have to attribute this one to the team," Bourdais said. "The car stayed together all day. It was like a tank."
Paul Tracy, trailing Bourdais in the season standings, did everything he could to catch the 26-year-old Frenchman, but he came up 3.724-seconds -- nearly the entire pit straightaway -- short as Bourdais seemed to speed up late in the 93-lap event.
"He only made one mistake in the hairpin and we weren't close enough to take advantage," said Tracy, who slipped from 22 to 28 points behind Bourdais with six races to go in the championship battle.
"I was just following Sebastien at the end," the 2003 series champion added. "He got faster, so we just decided to follow him home for second place."
Oriol Servia, Bourdais' Newman/Haas Racing teammate, was third, followed by Justin Wilson, Mario Dominguez and rookies Timo Glock, Ronnie Bremer and Bjorn Wirdheim, the only other drivers on the lead lap.
Alex Tagliani, who lost three laps after bouncing off a wall late in the race, was the only other driver running at the end.
Bourdais was in control throughout, although he didn't lead all the way.
Bremer, who made a pit stop on the third lap after a collision with Riccardo Sperafico, stayed on track when the leaders pitted on lap 28 and led until he made his second stop on lap 48.
Bourdais went out front again at that point, but fell back to second when he pitted again on lap 61 and Wirdheim stayed out and grabbed the lead. But, after Wirdheim made his final stop on lap 72, Bourdais was out front for good.
The 1.448-mile circuit presented plenty of challenges, including having to cross railroad tracks at two different places, nearly launching the cars. A narrow left hand turn four also took its toll, with at least five cars bouncing off the wall.
"The track is really challenging, definitely the roughest one we've ever been on," Bourdais said. "The team had to rebuild the car overnight to make sure everything held up, and they did a great job.
"I made very, very small mistakes, but not enough to open the door for anybody. At the end, we pulled away. That was very nice."
The inaugural event, run on a sunny, warm Northern California afternoon, drew a sellout crowd of 62,371.
Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press
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