Nelson Philippe became the youngest winner ever of a Champ Car race in another afternoon of drama at Surfers Paradise while Sebastien Bourdais duly wrapped up the 2006 title despite enduring one of the worst days of his entire career.
At just 20 years, two months and 30 days of age Philippe broke Scott Dixon's record of being the youngest winner in the series by some six months, becoming the 16th different winner in 16 CCWS visits to Australia's glamorous Gold Coast and holding off former Surfers winner Mario Dominguez in a thrilling final ten laps.
But the French-Canadian's maiden Champ Car triumph only told half the story of an afternoon in which Newman-Haas Racing's Sebastien Bourdais clinched his third consecutive series title despite only finishing eighth and taking out pole man and home town hero Will Power in the process.
Team Australia driver Power, who made his Champ Car debut at Surfers one year ago, led the 59-lap race from the start and looked comfortable as he held Bourdais, Paul Tracy, Bruno Junqueira and Philippe at bay through the opening 12-lap green flag run.
Behind the leader the huge Australian crowd were being treated to some truly fine street circuit racing as first Philippe out braked Junqueira for fourth going into turn one on lap nine with AJ Allmendinger following suite two laps later. Slightly ahead of that battle Tracy took advantage of a rare mistake by Bourdais through the fast VB chicane to snatch second on lap 12 but before the lap was out the first yellow flag of the afternoon had waved for Dan Clarke's turn eight accident.
The caution period saw virtually everyone pile onto pit road for the first round of stops, a series of stops that saw Tracy run into Power as they raced out of their pit stalls and the fuel hose on Allmendinger's car break loose, spilling methanol onto pit road and destroying the electrics on Allmendinger's Forsythe Racing Lola.
Both Tracy and Allmendinger were forced to pit again but while Tracy would soon embark on a typically tenacious fight up the leaderboard, Allmendinger's day would come to an end on lap 19 when he clouted the turn three wall in an effort to regain some of his lost positions and retired on the spot.
Allmendinger's retirement sealed the championship for Bourdais, who was now running fourth behind Power, new leader Jan Heylen who had yet to pit and Heylen's fellow rookie Charles Zwolsman who pitted under green flag conditions on lap eleven.
With the pressure now off him Bourdais could now afford to take a few risks in his efforts to get by Power, who elicited a huge cheer from every Aussie filled grandstand he passed on his way around the tortuous 2.795-mile 12-turn street course. However the risk he took heading down towards turn three on lap 28 wasn't the one the home crowd was hoping for, as Bourdais locked his front tyres as he attempted to take the inside line and slid past Power towards the escape road. With nowhere, and no room to go Power clipped the rear of Bourdais' car and damaged his left front steering arm.