18 July 2005
Bourdais benefits from RuSPORT misfortune.
For a while it looked like Justin Wilson and AJ Allmendinger were going to give Carl Russo and his RuSPORT team a first ever one-two finish in the Champ Car World Series just a week after Wilson gave the team its first victory, but bad luck late on saw Sebastien Bourdais secure victory in the first running of the Grand Prix of Edmonton.
Bourdais started his day in the tenth place spot after an uncharacteristic bobble in Friday's qualifying, but picked his way through the field to score the twelfth victory of his three-year Champ Car career. The Frenchman ran a furious pace in the early stages to get into contention and then took advantage as the cards fell in his favour late on to take his second win of the season.
Bourdais had to fight off his Newman Haas Racing team-mate Oriol Servia in the final stages of the race, keeping his stable-mate behind him over the final laps to give the team to its first one-two podium sweep of the year.
Crowd favourite Paul Tracy ended up on the podium after taking the scenic route through the first ever Edmonton race. Tracy led early after a strong pass of pole-sitter Allmendinger and paced 30 laps, but spent the middle part of the race looking up at the sharp end of the grid. But just when it seemed that the capacity Edmonton crowd would be disappointed, circumstances promoted him into the third spot as he scored his fifth podium finish of the 2005 season.
The early part of the day appeared to be tailor-made for the RuSPORT clan of Allmendinger and Wilson as the two cars brought the 18-car field to the green flag from the front row. Wilson conceded second place to Tracy in the second turn of the first lap, but Allmendinger was equal to his mentor's challenge, leading for the first 19 laps.
Tracy's relentless pressure eventually paid off as Allmendinger ran up behind a lapped car in turn ten, forcing him to run wider and leaving the door open for Tracy to take the lead. The Canadian star made the most of the opportunity, leading through a cycle of pit stops and pacing the next 30 laps. The cycle of pit stops appeared innocuous enough but it would turn out to play a major role in the makeup of the race. Wilson moved into second place during the first round of pit stops, short-fuelling to get out ahead of Allmendinger, but behind Tracy.
Wilson picked up the scent right away and hounded Tracy throughout the next ten laps. His dogged pursuit of the lead led Tracy to drive deeper than normal into the braking zones, and eventually took its toll on the tyres of the Forsythe Championship Racing machine. Wilson slipped into the lead on lap 49, seizing the opportunity when Tracy's flat-spotted tyres kept him from getting to the apex of turn ten, allowing Wilson to slide to the inside and into the lead.
Allmendinger pounced on the injured car of Tracy right after, slipping into the second spot around the 30-time race winner, and the two RuSPORT cars continued their pursuit of victory. Wilson made his final fuel stop earlier than anyone else, and relinquished the lead to Allmendinger after the final stops had cycled through. The duo not only maintained their spots through the final round of pit stops, they blew their lead out to 20 seconds over Bourdais and Servia.
The joyous romp ended on lap 76 when Bjorn Wirdheim's spin and contact with the turn seven tyres brought out the caution flag. The yellow banner bunched up the field behind Allmendinger and erased a 21-second advantage for the RuSPORT pair.
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