The championship scenario for Team Rahal's Michel Jourdain Jr and the Gigante team has come down to the most basic of premise - sweep the remaining points or step aside for the title hunt.

Paul Tracy's dominating win at Mexico City, in which the points leader led 64 laps en route to his seventh win of the season, has pushed Jourdain to the brink of elimination in what remains a three-horse race with two races to run.

"Realistically, we aren't going to win the championship but, as long as we have a chance, I won't give up," Jourdain admitted, "Paul gave us chances to pull ourselves back into the championship at Elkhart Lake and Miami, but we didn't take advantage of the opportunities. We are 14 points behind Bruno [Junqueira] and, if I can't win the championship, then I want to finish second. A lot of what we accomplish on track the next couple of weeks will set the tone for next season."

Jourdain has enjoyed a career-best season in 2003 and has emerged as one of the bright young stars of the Champ Car World Series. With races remaining at Surfer's Paradise and Fontana, the Mexican has set his sights on becoming the first Team Rahal driver to amass 200 points in a season, and enters the Australian race this weekend a mere 17 points from that achievement.

"These days, when people talk about Michel, they are talking about a championship contender and a complete driver," said team boss Bobby Rahal, "He has done an outstanding job this season - an effort that most years would have resulted in a championship.

"The biggest difference in Michel is the increased confidence I see in him as a driver. He goes into every race expecting to be on the podium and to challenge for victory. When a driver has that mindset they are going to be tough to beat."

This week, the Champ Car series heads 'down under' for the Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfer's Paradise. Team Rahal has never won the Australian stop, but Bobby Rahal (1995), Max Papis (1999) and Kenny Brack (2000) have all finished second. Jourdain finished tenth in the rain-soaked 2002 event.

"The race in Surfer's Paradise is one of the best events we have in the series," the Mexican said, "The Australian fans are enthusiastic and very knowledgeable about the sport, which makes for an atmosphere that is hard to beat."



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