The Champ Car World Series concludes an intriguing season in Mexico City, as four-time Series champion Sebastien Bourdais wraps up his Champ Car career in what is certain to be an emotional season finale.

The Gran Premio Tecate presented by Banamex at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez also will feature two popular Mexican drivers looking to stir the local fanbase, while Justin Wilson and Robert Doornbos do battle for second place in the standings and unofficial designation of pre-season 'favourite' to capture next year's Vanderbilt Cup.

While the moves of Mario Dominguez, at Pacific Coast Motorsport, and David Martinez, at Forsythe, will be closely monitored in Mexico, other eyes will turn to the battle for second place between Wilson and Doornbos.

The competition between the two at the 2.774-mile road course promises to be fierce as both drivers gained some momentum at the last race. RuSPORT's Wilson, who spent most of the season sitting in fourth place, moved ahead of Minardi Team USA's Doornbos in the standings thanks to his win in Assen in September - in front of Doornbos' home crowd - building on the momentum of five straight top five finishes and increasing his lead with a podium finish in Australia.

"The Autodromo is a track I really enjoy and I hope we can continue where we left off last year," said Wilson, who overcame a wrist injury to lead until the final lap, "Mexico City has always been a successful event for us as a team, so we're looking forward to going out and getting pole position and will be trying hard to win the race. Finishing second in the championship is really important to the whole team and everyone at RuSPORT is determined to go out on top."

The Briton's recent success, and his past performances in Mexico City - which number a win, a second and two poles - place him as favourite to claim the title of runner-up, but to do so he will have to see off 'the Flying Dutchman'. Doornbos started the season with podiums in six of nine races, including wins at Mont-Tremblant and San Jose, but a couple of difficult races in Europe put him out of contention for the championship title. However, a strong run at Surfers Paradise has since put him back in the fight for 'second-best', and the run from 14th to fourth helped him clinch the Roshfrans Rookie of the Year Award, as well as increasing his lead in the BBS Hard Charger standings - given to the driver who gains the most positions from his qualifying position at each race - to eleven points.

"It's a shame that the Champ Car season is coming to an end, but time flies when you're having fun!" Doornbos admitted, "I think it's great that Mexico is hosting the final race and, even though the championship has already been decided in favour of Sebastian, I would like to announce a very hard battle in who will become the vice-champion. I know that I'm one of only a few drivers who has never seen the circuit, but that has been the case almost every weekend this season. I trust my team and engineers' experience and, with my motivation being as high as at the start of the season, I'm sure we can do a good job - and hopefully finish where we started."

Wilson and Doornbos won't have things all their own way, however, as the entire field will hope to go out on a high. While Will Power can still take third place in the standings from Doornbos, the Australian is caught up in a fierce fight for fourth with five drivers still able to reach him. Fortunately for Power, he has received clearance from Champ Car medical officials to race in Mexico City after sustaining two hairline fractures to his left wrist in Australia and, armed with a special carbon-fibre brace and extra track time to adjust to it prior to Friday morning practice, the Team Australia driver look first to defend his championship position.

"Mexico City is a track I really enjoy - this will be my third time back and, last year, I got my first podium in Champ Car there," Power revealed, "After the last couple of races, we are definitely due for a bit of good luck and I would be disappointed not to have a strong finish to the season. We found some really good things when we tested the Aussie Vineyards car at Sebring that I think will work for this track, so I expect to be strong in the first session and look to end the season on a high."

Rookie Graham Rahal is Power's closest competitor, 14 points behind the Aussie, having scored four podium finishes in his debut season, Rahal is battling with PKV Racing's Neel Jani and former Champ Car Atlantic rival Simon Pagenaud - Power's team-mate - for second place in the rookie of the year standings. Both Jani and Pagenaud have been consistent throughout the season, but Jani, who leads the French rookie by five markers, has climbed onto the podium three times while Pagenaud still searches for his first top-three finish.

"The track definitely suits my style because it has very fast corners and is very windy for a long duration," Rahal commented, "I came to the race last year as a spectator, and it was very interesting because it was run in the wet and dry and everyone had to anticipate the changes. Hopefully, it will be another good race this year and we can be one of the contenders."

Sitting between the two rookies in seventh place overall is veteran Bruno Junqueira, who has given Dale Coyne Racing its best-ever string of results with three podium finishes in the last three races. With 100 starts under his belt, the Brazilian has finished on the podium 34 times, but has already double Coyne's career haul.

"We want to continue the streak of three straight podium finishes by concluding the season with a win," Junqueira insisted, "The team has done a great job these last three races by giving me a two thirds and a second, and I would love to give Dale Coyne Racing its first win in the series this weekend."

While some will be looking to improve their position in the final standings, Bourdais will be soaking it all in as he competes in his final Champ Car World Series race before moving on to Formula One. The first driver to win four consecutive Champ Car championships would like nothing more than to end his US career the same way he usually ends all his races - with a victory. The Frenchman has enjoyed much success at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez with two wins and a second place in the last four races.

"Obviously, you don't want to finish your career in the series with some frustration or regret, so it would be great to have a good weekend again," Bourdais admitted, "We'll give our very best and hope we can finish in style. Mexico is a really fun track, although very bumpy, which is the only downside but makes it more challenging because it's difficult to read and the grip is not its best."

With Bourdais saying his final goodbyes and on-track battles that promise to be even more exciting with an extra 50 hp on tap via 'Power-to-Pass', the crowd is in for quite a treat. But what the Mexican fans would love even more is for one of their own to come home with the win. Dominguez will be making his sixth appearance in Mexico City, but his best finish at home came in 2003 when he climbed onto the third step of the podium.

"I am very excited to be racing in Mexico City again, and having Tecate as a sponsor on my car makes me very proud," Dominguez said, "I hope I can do a fantastic job for them. Nothing would make me happier than giving the Mexican fans a great result in my home country."

Martinez, meanwhile, will be making his second start in Mexico City driving for Forsythe, after having made his Champ Car debut there in 2006, starting and finishing ninth.

"I can't wait for the weekend to get started!" the rookie enthused, "I've been in Mexico City for almost a week now and we've been working really hard promoting the race and making sure that this event is as successful as possible. The buzz and the excitement are definitely building up and I think that we are going to put on a great show for all the Mexican fans. I'm especially excited because Axtel and Tecate have come on board - it's great to have Mexican sponsors supporting Champ Car again, especially as we've just found out that the contract for this race has been extended. We need to keep building momentum so we can get Champ Car back to where it was a few years ago in Mexico."

Since Mexico City returned to the Champ Car World Series calendar in 2002 - it previously hosted races in 1980 and 1981 - there have been five races and four different winners. Kenny Brack won the 2002 event, with Paul Tracy capturing the race in his championship season of 2003. Bourdais joined three-time champion Rick Mears as the only repeat winners of the event, having won the race in 2004 and last year, with Wilson winning in 2005.

With seven wins to his credit, Bourdais has to be the pre-race favourite, but Wilson has always found the track to his liking. Along with his victory, the Briton has second- and fourth-place finishes in three appearances, and has captured the pole for the past two years, having started third as a rookie in 2004. Tracy also runs well at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, but missed last year's race due to a shoulder injury suffered in an off-track incident.

Wilson surprised everybody by grabbing the 2006 pole position with a broken wrist, but Bourdais - from second - showed a glimpse of things to come when he passed the Briton on a lap six restart after a caution for contact between Katherine Legge and Dominguez at the start. Wilson, however, repaid the favour on lap 23, and went on to dominate the middle stages of the race, as rain started lap 26. Bourdais made a gutsy move by choosing fuel only on his final pit-stop and, although Wilson gained a initial four-second advantage over the Frenchman, with seven laps to go the lead had shrunk to 2.7secs. With four laps to go Wilson's lead had evaporated to less than a second, and the last lap battle was one to remember as the two drivers made contact in turn six, Bourdais squeezing through to win.

Bridgestone is taking its medium-grip road-course Potenza to Mexico City, along with a higher-grip alternate. The dry specifications are identical to those used at Mexico City in 2006, and the primary spec served the same role earlier at both Cleveland and Edmonton. The wet-weather tyre is the more durable road-course rain tyre.

"Hard to believe, but another exciting Champ Car season is coming to a close," motorsport director Al Speyer concluded, "The Mexico City events are perennially great because of the tremendous racetrack and the many, many passionate fans who attend. This year's race takes on special status because it will also be the final Champ Car event for four-time champion Sebastien Bourdais, an incredible driver and loyal Bridgestone friend. As good a driver as he is, you know the rest of the field would like nothing better than to beat Bourdais one more time before he goes."

 

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