Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Surf’s Up (Australia Race Notes)

Think that Champ Cars visit to Australia is all “Fun ‘N Games?”
Just ask Champ Car driver Justin Wilson about his trip “Down Under.” Wilson suffered a broken wrist bone during Friday’s provisional qualifying session.
Lying third in the championship, Wilson suffered the injury upon spinning and striking a tire barrier. Wilson’s Champ Car season appears to be over for the remainder of the year as RuSPORT’s 2006 season continues to falter…
While home town “hero” Will Power (Team Australia) “wowed” the natives with his sweep of pole position both Friday and Saturday. (Power’s initial Champ Car career pole) Sebastian Bourdais was having troubles of his own. During the final qualifying session, Bourdais clouted the wall demolishing his primary chassis. Ripping the left half of the Lola chassis to shreds, damage to the monocoque tub was sufficient enough to cause Newman/Haas to switch to his back-up chassis for race day…

”The Rick Daly Show
In another classic case of “Penny Pinching” SPEED sent only Jon Beekhuis to Australia, letting Derrick Daly and Rick Benjamin call the action stateside… Yet once again Rick Benjamin belabored his favourite series sponsor WALLMART. Benjamin ONLY managed to point out Andrew Ranger’s #27 WALLMART Lola seven times before Derrick Daly had to join-in, commenting that it was actually WALLMART ‘O Canada sponsorship… Then Benjamin got in one final “plug” for a grand total of mentioning Ranger’s sponsor 8 times. How much is Wallmart PAYING Benjamin, eh?

Uncharacteristically, Derrick Daly called his “hero” (Sugar Ray) Paul Tracy an IDIOT… The quip was in regards to Tracy spearing race leader Power upon exiting pit lane. Daly also agreed with Derrick Walker that Bourdais’s overtaking attempt was “Boneheaded!”

Race Action
While the race start was aborted in favor of a single file restart, fireworks soon erupted when the leader’s made their first pit-stop under caution. On lap 16 AJ Almendinger ripped his refueling hose off its fuel rig while exiting his pit-Box. The broken fuel hose sprayed methanol in his pit stall causing a brief pit fire to erupt… Returning to pit lane to remove the torn fuel hose Almendinger stalled before leaving the pits. Then on lap 19 Almendinger hit the wall due to gearbox difficulties.
Almendinger’s retirement secured Bourdais’s third consecutive Champ Car Driver’s Title. Bourdais became only the second driver in Champ Car’s 97 year history to accomplish the feat, joining Ted Horn’s achievement 58 years ago. (1946-48)

Meanwhile “Sugar Ray” Tracy was busy digging through his bag ‘O tricks, ramming Power’s side pod while exiting pit lane. The contact only caused minimal damage and the two drivers continued on…
Unfortunately while running third overall, Bourdais tried a “bonsai” out breaking maneuver, hitting Power and bending potential race winner Power’s suspension. (Lap 28) Bourdais was assessed a “drive-thru” penalty and finished 8th overall, while Power soldiered on to salvage a 12th place finish.

The furious in-fighting allowed Nelson Philippe to quietly work his way towards the front, where he held off the hard charging Mario Dominguez, scoring his debut Champ Car victory… The win was also CTE/HVM’s maiden team victory.
Ironically, Dominguez finished ahead of his ex-Forsythe teammate Tracy, whom was the meat in a “Canadian Bacon” sandwich. Tracy was forced to relinquish third place to Alex Tagliani for shortcutting a chicane. Andrew “Insert $ponsor’s name Here” Ranger brought up the rear of the Canadian trio, finishing 5th overall…

Rocketsports Racing had it’s best showing of the season with Dominguez’s 2nd place finish and teammate Antonio Pizzonia briefly leading in the newly re-liveried Lexington Energy Lola Ford/Cosworth. Unfortunately Rocketsports apparently “bungled” Pizzonia’s pit stop strategy by mistakeningly leaving “Jungle Boy” on track during the races final caution period…

According to Derrick Daly, spectator attendance was 211,000 through Saturday’s qualifying, EXCLUDING Sunday attendance figures…Sunday’s race day attendance was reported at 101,00+, giving an estimated total attendance figure of 312,00+…

In only his third Champ Car season, 20 year old Nelson Philippe became Champ Car World Series youngest race winner. Philippe also became Surfer’s Paradises 16th different winner in 16 years. Ex-CART (Rookie of the Year) “Kiwi” Scott Dixon previously held the honors, winning at age 21. Dixon surpassed youngest race winner. honors held jointly by the late Greg Moore and Al Unser, Jr.