EDMONTON, Alberta -- Everything fell back into place for
Sebastien Bourdais on Sunday in the inaugural Grand Prix of
The reigning Champ Car World Series champion came from a
10th-place start after crashing in qualifying on Friday and
captured his first victory since the season-opener in April at Long
The Frenchman was able to slice through heavy traffic on the
fast, 1.973-mile, 14-turn circuit and move into contention, but it
took mistakes by both A.J. Allmendinger and his RuSPORT teammate
Justin Wilson of England to give Bourdais a shot at the 12th
victory of his career.
"I would have been happy with a top five," Bourdais said after
celebrating with some smoking doughnuts in front of more than
80,000 spectators, most of whom were cheering for his bitter rival,
Canadian driver Paul Tracy, who finished third.
"I was just hanging on, trying not to make a mistake,"
Bourdais added. "There were some faster drivers out there, but
they all made mistakes. I don't know, maybe they were all tired."
Allmendinger, a 23-year-old American and last year's top rookie,
started from the pole for the first time in his career. He appeared
on the way to his first victory until he bounced off the wall,
damaging his transmission, while leading just eight laps from the
end of the 88-lap event. The frustrated Allmendinger wound up 14th.
Wilson, who won his first Champ Car race a week earlier in
Toronto, appeared to get a break when a crash by Bjorn Wirdheim
brought out the second full-course caution flag of the race on lap
76. The Englishman was trying hard to conserve fuel as he trailed
his teammate and tried to stay ahead of the hard-charging Bourdais.
As the cars picked up speed for a restart on lap 79, Wilson
suddenly spun out. He fell all the way to eighth place before
getting back in line. He wound up fourth, just behind Tracy.
"It was a simple driving mistake," Wilson said, looking
embarrassed. "It's hard to believe. I really messed up."
Tracy, who slipped from 15 to 21 points behind Bourdais in the
battle for the season championship, appeared to have one of the
strongest cars in the early going. He took second-place from Wilson
at the start and chased down Allmendinger, passing him for the lead
on lap 19.
But the 2003 series champion had problems with his front brakes
after his first pit stop and Wilson and Allmendinger both took
advantage to move past Tracy, who never got back into contention.
"We would like to have finished ahead of Sebastien, but it just
seems like he has a lucky horseshoe right now," said Tracy, who
finished behind Bourdais after they collided coming out of the pits
in Toronto and lost the points lead.
Mario Dominguez finished fifth and rookie Ronnie Bremer was
sixth, the last two drivers on the lead lap.