Thursday, November 15, 2007

Viva la Mexico

Well it’s finally over… As I’m certain that Champ Car is sighing a breath of relief over the conclusion of a very rough 2007 season...

Along with several cancelled events, Mexico City sees newly anointed four time consecutive Champ Car champion Sebastian Bourdais making his series farewell.

Kicking the weekend off in his traditional fashion, the Hamburgular once again stole the top spot in Friday’s provisional qualifying with a new record lap of 1:24.698.

This didn’t last long though as Will Power forced his way to the front in Saturday’s final qualifying session, setting a “New Track Record” of 1:23.558. (119.515 mph) Power led a contingent of seven drivers besting Sea Bass’s time of Friday as Bourdais ended up tenth quickest, but started second overall due to his Friday pole.

Then Bourdais and teammate Graham Rahal were penalized 22 seconds of their P2P time due to laying down rubber in their pit boxes against Champ Car orders.

And I suspect that the altitude of Mexico City had something to do with the aborted start, as three competitors stalled for the very first time of a standing start. Mexico City’s air (while polluted) is very thin, with the elevation being 7,400+ feet.

Although one of the casualties was Dan “Speedy Dry” Clarke who’s clutch failed on the aborted start. Teammate “Bad Bobby D” (Robert Doornbos) also lost his clutch on lap three. Hmm? Perhaps Minardi Team USA used some of the Hamburgular’s “Secret Sauce” for their clutch set-ups? Yet the team did an Indy Racing League style pit job, repairing the clutch and sending Doornbos back out to score one point for setting the fastest lap to ensure his third place in the championship.

And was it “Déjà vu?” As this year’s pole sitter Power was racing with a broken wrist, having suffered a hairline fracture in his accident with Katherine Legge in Australia. Last year saw Justin Wilson racing with a broken wrist and ironically Power’s teammate Simon Pagenaud was suffering from tendonitis in his wrist.

And for all of you Die Cast Vroomers, fortunately Champ Car hasn’t put out a decent diecast in years; especially the later Lola’s which were incorrect! So you won’t have to worry about getting’ the custom Mac Doogals car that Bourdais drove to victory… As it was adorned with decals for his entire Champ Car career, leaving a blank space left on the nose for Mexico… Hey, now they can make two versions of this car, eh?

Meanwhile Justin Wilson was forced to soldier around the track for the majority of the race with fuel pressure problems, this made him a lame duck on the long straightaway, and finishing tenth do to his lack of horsepower.

Yet Sea Bass clearly showed why he’s currently heads ‘N shoulders above the rest of the Champ Car fraternity, by overtaking Power and pulling away to an 11+ second lead. Then when a late yellow flag bunched the field back together to give Power one last shot at the Hamburgular, who was at a disadvantage on P2P power. Sea Bass simply drove off into the sunset, making a banzai start while NOT using any of his precious P2P supply! Thus leaving Power to finish second.

And with Michael Schumacher-like numbers in Champ Car, *31 Wins/73 Starts = 43% win avg.) The series will potentially be much more exciting next season. The win ties Bourdais with ‘Lil Al (Al Unser Jr.) and Paul Tracy for sixth overall in all time Champ Car wins.

But the best story of the day was “Suitcase” Servia’s run from 16th to the final podium position with a burst of late race passes., after having stalled on the start from fourth place. PKV co-owner Jimmy Vasser told Oriel to quit saving his P2P! Jumping from sixth to third on the final restart.

Servia got the nickname courtesy of Rick Benjamin in deference to the number of teams and drivers the Spaniard has filled in for this season.

Afterwards, Servia wanting to know how to get on Wind Tunnel asked SPEED’s Robin Miller about his brother… Who? You know “Dee-Spain.” I’m from Spain, he’s De-Spain, and if I win a race will this get me on Wind Tunnel? To which Miller assured him he’d even drive him to the Charlotte studios…