Tue, Aug 01, 2006 - Page 19 News List

Bourdais plays it safe to net fifth win

LEAD EXTENDED France's Sebastien Bourdais took another step toward his third Champ Car title, while two Canadian drivers duked it out after an on-track crash

AP , SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA

Alex Tagliani, left, from Canada and Paul Tracy of Canada fight after a collision knocked them both out of the race at the Champ Car San Jose Grand Prix auto race in San Jose, California, on Sunday.

PHOTO: AP

Sebastien Bourdais avoided mistakes in a race filled with them and pulled away for his fifth win of the season in the San Jose Grand Prix and added to his Champ Car World Series points lead on Sunday.

The Frenchman, well on the way to what would be his third straight title in Champ Car, had not won since starting the season with four consecutive victories. But Bourdais' Newman/Haas Racing Lola was a dominating force this weekend, winning the pole and leading for 69 of the 97 laps.

Paul Tracy took the lead at the start, but was later penalized for jumping the green flag. That put Bourdais back on top until he pitted on lap 54, when he fell to third behind Dutch driver Charles Zwolsman and Spain's Oriol Servia, both on a different pit strategy.

Bourdais remained patient for a while, knowing that both the drivers ahead of him would have to pit again. But, after Servia moved with a pass on a restart on lap 60, Bourdais got past Zwolsman for second on lap 73.

He regained the lead for good when Servia pitted on lap 80, then pulled away for the easy victory -- leaving runner-up Cristiano da Matta of Brazil 6.686 seconds behind at the end.

The runner-up finish for da Matta, a former series champion, was his best this season. He was followed by Justin Wilson of England, 20-year-old Nelson Philippe of France, and Mario Dominguez of Mexico.

Wilson, who crashed in practice on Saturday and started 12th, managed to keep Bourdais at least in sight in the championship. He trails by 31 points heading to Denver on Aug. 13.

As Bourdais predicted, there were plenty of mistakes on the tight, bumpy 2.3km, seven-turn city street course, but he was able to stay away from trouble on the way to the 21st victory of his four-year career.

Tracy, another former series champion, started second in the race but ran into several problems.

After the yellow flag came out for a ragged false start on the first lap, Tracy jumped the green flag on lap two, getting past Bourdais before the flagstand. Champ Car officials quickly put him back to second as the caution flag waved on lap three when Australian rookie Will Power ran into the rear of Brazil's Bruno Junqueira, who in turn hit Servia.

Tracy said he fought a brake problem all day and, after sliding into a runoff area on lap 52, Tracy drove back onto the track right in front of Alex Tagliani, taking both of them out.

Tagliani stalked out of his car and walked down pit lane to confront Tracy. Still wearing his helmet, Tagliani grabbed Tracy's uniform at the chest with both hands and appeared to be yelling at his fellow Canadian, who was carrying his helmet. Tagliani then turned away and walked several steps before again turning to confront Tracy.

This time it wound up in some pushing and wild punches thrown by both men before bystanders quickly pulled them apart. Tagliani then stalked off.

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