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Philippe takes maiden win at Surfers

Nelson Philippe scored his first Champ Car win after a thrilling and at times wild race in Surfers Paradise, while another Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais clinched his third title on the trot.

Philippe's CTE Racing HVM car took over the lead from Antonio Pizzonia's out-of-pit-sequence Rocketsports machine with seven laps to go, and then had to hold off the second Rocketsports car of Mario Dominguez to the flag.

The Frenchman's victory extends Surfers Paradise's remarkable record of 16 different winners in its 16-race history on the Champ Car calendar.

Bourdais was somewhat less popular with the Australian crowd than his compatriot after taking out pole-sitter and local hero Will Power with an atypically rash overtaking attempt on lap 29 that sent the Newman/Haas car skidding down an escape road and bent the left front wishbone of the Team Australia car.

Power had already been in the wars, having been clouted by Paul Tracy as he exited the pits, the Forsythe car being waved out into the path of Power, fortunately without serious hurt to the Team Oz machine. PT by contrast, got a right-rear puncture, and had to do a slow lap before pitting again.

Simultaneous with the Power/Tracy farce, AJ Allmendinger left his Forsythe pit with his fuel hose still attached, sparking a conflagration that obliged Bruno Junqueira's pitcrew to help, to the detriment of Bruno's race position.

Australian crowds were somewhat mollified by honorary Aussie Alex Tagliani in Power's sister car coming through to third, but this too only came about through odd circumstances.

Tracy, who had forced his way back up to second place before his scheduled pitstop, was assessed a penalty for passing Dominguez under yellow flag conditions, obliging him to let Mario back through before a restart.

When Dominguez then lost momentum in a failed attempt at passing Philippe, Tracy tried to capitalize and went two abreast with Mario into a chicane.

The move was never on, so PT calmly drove through the chicane on exit, making sure he remained behind the Rocketsports car. However, he was still penalised for gaining ground on the chasing (albeit distant) Tagliani and made to drop behind him too.

Andrew Ranger came home fifth for Conquest Racing, repelling an attack from Junqueira in the closing laps, who in turn held off Newman/Haas teammate Bourdais.

Allmendinger, the only man who started this race who could have beaten Seb to the title crashed after his disastrous pitstop, wrestling with a recalcitrant gear change.

PKV Racing had a poor day that had promised much when Oriol Servia led. He lost fifth gear, obliging him to let several drivers past, before the gearbox failed altogether. Teammate Katherine Legge crashed out on cold tyres after a pitstop.

Pos  Driver        Team                            Time
 1.  Philippe      CTE - HVM                1:50:50.985
 2.  Dominguez     Rocketsports             +     0.727
 3.  Tagliani      Team Australia           +     6.053
 4.  Tracy         Forsythe                 +     7.238
 5.  Ranger        Mi-Jack Conquest         +     9.376
 6.  Junqueira     Newman/Haas              +    10.246
 7.  Zwolsman      Mi-Jack Conquest         +    16.848
 8.  Bourdais      Newman/Haas              +    18.978
 9.  Wirth         Dale Coyne               +    22.195
10.  Pizzonia      Rocketsports             +    44.085
11.  Briscoe       RuSPORT                  +     1 lap
12.  Power         Team Australia           +     1 lap

Not Classified/Retirements:

Driver        Team                        On Lap
Servia        PKV                           43
Heylen        Dale Coyne                    42
Legge         PKV                           42
Allmendinger  Forsythe                      18
Clarke        CTE - HVM                     12
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