Having allowed arch-rival Paul Tracy to take the spoils on day one of the final pre-season test before the start of the Champ Car World Series season, Sebastien Bourdais saved his best for last by smashing the official lap record at Laguna Seca, earning a $5,000 prize in the process.

Topping the lap set by Ricardo Zonta in a Toyota F1 car last year, Bourdais waited until his final lap of the day, ended prematurely by a smash for Bruno Junqueira, to reach the line with a time some four tenths up on the original marker.

Six tenths up on the rest of the competition, led by Will Power, the Newman/Haas/Lanigan driver was a class apart in the test, his time earning him a little extra pocket money from series owner Kevin Kalkhoven who had challenged the drivers to beat the 'golden' F1 benchmark.

"I knew where Bruno was when the red came out and I knew I was past it, and I knew I was four- or five-tenths ahead of the record so I said 'screw it, I'm going for it'," Bourdais grinned. "We didn't particularly chase the record but we had our eye on it and I am happy that we were able to get it."

Although an ominous distance behind, even if the margin was arguably accentuated by the early end to the session, Power maintained his form in the final test of the off-season to claim the second fastest time, the Australian looking a good bet to break his and Team Australia's race winning duck at some point this year.

Neel Jani was once again in close contact with the front runners, the Swiss driver the best of the rookies in his Red Bull PKV, while fellow newcomers Graham Rahal and Simon Pagenaud impressively filled out the top five.

Justin Wilson was a quiet sixth fastest on the day, just ahead of Alex Tagliani and Matt Halliday, who continued to impress with his turn of pace for Conquest Racing on his debut run with the team.

Robert Doornbos was ninth fastest, although had his day cut short with an off, while fellow casualty Junqueira rounded out the top ten on his return to Dale Coyne Racing.

Day one pace setter Tracy settled for sixth fastest, but still concluded the test as being the team's 'best test of the year', the opposite of 'the worst test of the year' at Houston last month.

Junqueira's temporary 'team-mate' Katherine Legge was marginally behind in 12th, ahead of Tristan Gommendy, the Frenchman proving far more on the pace at PKV with a day's running under his belt, while Pacific Coast Motorsport duo Alex Figge and Ryan Dalziel rounded out the test as they continue to understand the new Panoz DP01.

Leading performances (10 March) - Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca:

Sebastien Bourdais Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m 05:880s 167 lapsWill Power Team Australia 1m 06.424s 172 lapsNeel Jani Red Bull PKV 1m 06:516s 186 lapsGraham Rahal Newman/Haas/Lanigan 1m 06:561s 167 lapsSimon Pagenaud Team Australia 1m 06:699s 171 lapsJustin Wilson RuSPORT 1m 06:755s 136 lapsAlex Tagliani Rocketsports 1m 06:760s 154 lapsMatt Halliday Conquest 1m 06:930s 130 lapsRobert Doornbos Minardi Team USA 1m 06:959s 135 lapsBruno Junqueira Dale Coyne 1m 07.048s 134 lapsPaul Tracy Forsythe 1m 07:067s 90 lapsKatherine Legge Dale Coyne 1m 07:727s 145 lapsTristan Gommendy PKV 1m 08:325s 93 lapsAlex Figge Pacific Coast 1m 08:521s 143 lapsRyan Dalziel Pacific Coast 1m 08:825s 135 laps

[lap totals for both days of two-day test]

 

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