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Bourdais leads Newman Haas 1-2

4 July 2004

Sebastien Bourdais has moved up to second in the driver's standings after winning the fifth round of the Champ Car World Series in Cleveland.

The Frenchman finished a comfortable 15.130secs ahead of teammate Bruno Junqueira to give the Newman Haas squad a 1-2 finish.

The result sees Bourdais close the gap on the Brazilian in the championship standings to just a single point.

Bourdais' challenge was aided from the start when defending World Series champion Paul Tracy was forced to retire on lap two. Tracy, who had started the race from pole position, sustained damage in a coming together with rookie Justin Wilson at the infamous turn one, which also saw the Brit forced out of the event.

After a four lap safety car period to clear Wilson's car from the track, Bourdais led the race from Patrick Carpentier and A.J Allmendinger, before the rookie spun on lap 13, gifting the place to Orial Servia, who had climbed from a lowly 13th on the grid after the problems at the start.

However, Carpentier's challenge wasn't to last and he pulled into the pits with smoke billowing from the engine on lap 21, allowing the charging Servia to inherit second spot. Bourdais pitted on lap 26, allowing Servia and Michel Jourdain to briefly take over the number one spot.

Bourdais extended his lead after the pit stops while Junqueira made his way up the order to take second on lap 36, over 35 seconds behind his team mate, but that would soon be wiped out as the safety car came out on lap 40 to allow debris to be cleared from the track.

No sooner had the race gone green four laps later but the yellow flag was out again as Ryan Hunter-Reay spun and stalled the Herdez Competition car while trying to defend third from Servia. Rodolfo Lavin and Roberto Gonzalez both managed to spin heading to the green flag as the race resumed on lap 48.

Bourdais soon extended his lead over Junqueira before the pair both pitted within a lap of each other, with the Newman Haas boys enjoying a trouble free run to the finish once the third set of stops had been completed.

Behind them, Jourdain's strong run had ended on lap 60 after making contact with the wall as Alex Tagliani made his was up the order into the top three. Tagliani had been forced to fight through the field having been caught up in the Tracy/Wilson incident at the start and running off the track on lap 5.

By the chequered flag, Bourdais had a comfortable margin over Junqueira, while the Brazilian had the same gap again to third placed Tagliani. Servia was rewarded for his strong showing with a season's best fourth for the Dale Coyne Racing team, earning a point for most places gained during the race.

Jimmy Vasser claimed fifth, ahead of leading rookie A.J Allmendinger, who closes the gap on Wilson in the Rookie of the Year standings to a single point.
The day however belonged to Bourdais, whose victory earned him back-to back victories in the Cleveland event.

"This was probably the easiest race of my short Champ Car career," he said. "There was the pileup in Turn One at the start of the race and all I could see was smoke. I aimed for the apex, and then realized there was no one around me.

“It was challenging for the start, everyone piled up in the first turn, and then it was an uneventful race except for the track inspection. We had a very strong car and a very good lead and we lost that and we still were able to build it back.

“The McDonald's car was good all weekend and my team did a great job giving me a good car. It is a great sensation to be back here in Cleveland and win for the second time at this event and the second time this season."


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