Tue, Aug 10, 2004 - Page 19 News List

Alex Tagliani wins Champ Car race on Wisconsin course

AP , ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSINAP, JYVASKYLA, FINLAND

Alex Tagliani of Canada won his first Champ Car race when he moved up from 13th to take the checkered flag at the Grand Prix of Road America on Sunday.

Tagliani, who crashed in practice on Friday and didn't get to race in the first round of qualifying, passed Rodolfo Lavin of Mexico four laps from the finish to secure his first career victory in 85 races.

"I've been unfortunate in my career, so if I was lucky today, I'll take it," Tagliani said.

"This race is for all the guys right here," he added, pointing to his crew. "I made them work very hard."

Lavin's second-place finish also was the best of his career.

Season points leader and pole-sitter Sebastien Bourdais of France finished third after an eventful day that included five yellow flags that resulted in the planned 52-lap race going just 48 because of an hour, 45-minute time limit. Tagliani's winning speed was 178.442kph. Lavin finished 1.855 seconds back and Bourdais was 2.767 seconds behind Tagliani.

Bourdais had won his three previous races when he started on the pole this season, at Monterrey, Portland and Toronto.

Tagliani had finished second three times in his career, including at Elkhart Lake in 2002. Last year, he was third at Road America.

The 31-year-old Canadian, who took his first lead on the 23rd lap, got the checkered flag on a surprisingly sunny day. The forecast had called for thundershowers like last year, when the race was delayed and then shortened because of rain.

Because the 14-turn, 6.5km track features two long straightaways that can devour the 60-second allotment of additional turbocharger boost available to each driver, Champ Car added a one-time 15-second increase in the "Push to Pass" reservoir on Sunday.

Former two-time world rally champion Marcus Gronholm won his first race in nearly 15 months, maintaining his more than half-minute lead through the final day to win the Finland Rally on Sunday.

It was the 16th career victory for the 2000 and 2002 season champion, who hadn't won since the Argentine Rally in May of 2003.

"We've waited a long time for this," said Gronholm, who won his third straight Finnish rally in 2002. "I wasn't completely confident when we started, but my feeling got better and better and we were able to keep the lead without pushing."

He finished a comfortable 34.7 seconds ahead of Markko Martin of on gravel roads in three hours, seven minutes, 16.1 seconds, ending a winless streak of 17 consecutive races.

Gronholm led from the sixth stage, the last on the first day, when teammate and fellow Finn Harri Rovanpera, withdredw after rolling his Peugeot. Gronholm, however, had his own troubles, driving several stages on Saturday with only three of four gears available.

Spain's Citroen driver Carlos Sainz was third, 1 minute, 44.5 seconds behind Gronholm.

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