Philippe takes maiden win at Surfers
|By David Malsher||Sunday, October 22nd 2006, 05:25 GMT|
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