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Grand Prix of St Petersburg – Race Report.

A magnificent win for Paul Tracy on his Team Players debut, the birth of a new superstar (albeit a flawed one), some great wheel-to-wheel racing and overtaking around a challenging, well supported circuit. Who said CART was dead?

Some things were just meant to go the right way and after the most trying period in its history perhaps it was only fitting that one of CART's staunchest supporters should emerge victorious in the inaugural Grand Prix of St Petersburg, the first round of the new-look Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

Paul Tracy is always a popular winner (in CART circles at least) these days after long being regarded as the series bad-boy and his 20th career Champ Car win may be his sweetest ever. Driving his first race for Player's Forsythe Racing Tracy was able to overcome the sudden departure of engineer Kelly Loweren and a problematic Ford Cosworth engine on Friday to score what turned out to be a comfortable win around the 14 turn 1.806-mile St Petersburg course.

The 34 year-old Canadian took the lead from rookie Tiago Monteiro on lap 35 of the 105 lap event and never surrendered it, eventually running out victorious by a margin of 12.136seconds over the ever-consistent Michel Jourdain Jr who scored his best career finish to date for Team Rahal.

Tracy's path to victory lane may not have been so easy had troubles not befallen polesitter Sebastien Bourdais and the second Team Players Lola-Ford of Patrick Carpentier.

Following his electric performance in practice and qualifying Bourdais made no mistake on his first rolling start and he led the 19-strong field down the main runway of the local Albert Whitted Airport and into the invitingly spacious turn one/two complex.

With the absence of traction control greatly increasing the overall spectacle Bourdais had the field covered during a caution filled opening 20 laps, choosing to stay on the track on lap 16 when many of the other leaders chose to pit at the first available opportunity. Knowing that the mandated fuel window meant that he had to pit by lap 30 Bourdais took off like a whippet when the green flag waved on lap 20 and built an impressive margin of almost 15 seconds over second placed Adrian Fernandez before the top two had to make their first stops on lap 30.

Once again Bourdais coped well with what is a new experience for him and left the pits cleanly. Such had been his previous speed that he only dropped as far as fifth overall, just six seconds behind new race leader Tiago Monteiro.

Choosing a different fuel strategy to the rest of the field, Emerson Fittipaldi's young Portuguese protégé had moved into third position when the rest of the leaders pitted on lap 16 and had proceeded to defend his place from the chasing bunch, led by Player's Forsythe duo Tracy and Carpentier. Jourdain had moved himself quietly into fourth spot with Bourdais right on his heels in fifth and the fast rising Oriol Servia sixth.



Related Pictures

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Paul Tracy - Player`s Forsythe Racing
Sebastien Bourdais with his son after winning Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
The red flag is waived halting attempts to start Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto on Saturday. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway and Team Owner Ed Carpenter celebrate victory in Race 2 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais gets a congratulatory hug from team co-owner Kevin Kalkhoven after winning Race 1 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Chevrolet sweeps the podium with winner Mike Conway (center), driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. Tony Kanaan (left), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet celebrates his second-place finish. Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates his third-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag while racing to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway on his way to victory in the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway jumps for joy after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway with the winner`s flag after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway receives the winner`s trophy after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power pose for a selfie on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Tony Kanaan and Will Power pose for a selfie on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates with the Ed Carpenter Racing team after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway celebrates after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)

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