San Jose 2007: Robert nose the way.

Robert Doornbos rekindled his Champ Car World Series title hopes with a second victory of the year, this time after a come-from-behind performance on the streets of San Jose.

The Dutch rookie lined up a lowly 15th on the grid for the ninth round of the season, but took a leaf out of veteran Paul Tracy's book by losing a front wing early on and then relying on strategy to take him to the head of the pack by the end of the one hour 45 minute race.

Robert Doornbos rekindled his Champ Car World Series title hopes with a second victory of the year, this time after a come-from-behind performance on the streets of San Jose.

The Dutch rookie lined up a lowly 15th on the grid for the ninth round of the season, but took a leaf out of veteran Paul Tracy's book by losing a front wing early on and then relying on strategy to take him to the head of the pack by the end of the one hour 45 minute race.

Where Tracy waited a few laps in Cleveland before losing his nose - and then did it again for good measure several laps later - Doornbos got his misdemeanour over and done with at turn one, riding high over the back of Jan Heylen as the tight hairpin caused the pack to back up. Despite carry hardly any speed at all, the Minardi Team USA car had enough momentum to leave its wing perched on Heylen's engine cover after the Belgian was forced to check up by an almost stationary Mario Dominguez ahead of him. Doornbos also stalled his car on landing, holding up Katherine Legge and Alex Figge before being bump-started and making his way to the pits.

The kerfuffle overshadowed a great getaway for Sebastien Bourdais, the Frenchman immediately redressing the loss of provisional pole to Justin Wilson by beating the Briton to turn one. Bourdais' advantage lasted all of two turns, however, the three-time champion admitting to carrying too much speed into the second corner, where he was punished by running wide and almost smiting the wall. Wilson needed no second bidding to retake the lead as the field came under full course caution for Doornbos to be restarted. Bourdais' afternoon got even worse shortly afterwards too, the Newman/Haas/Lanigan car cutting out at turn seven as the field toured behind the safety car, dropping the points leader to seventh on the road.

Leading the field appeared to carry a curse, however, for no sooner had Wilson returned to P1 than his race ran into problems. While Heylen and Doornbos repaired to the pits, Wilson's car also appeared to die momentarily behind the pace car, catching Dan Clarke unawares. Having just fitted one new nose to Doornbos' car, the Minardi crew had to prepare a second for its other driver, while Wilson also headed pitward with damage to the right rear suspension, later revealed to include the toelink and driveshaft. His misfortune promoted Oriol Servia to the lead of the race, with Neel Jani - still suffering the effects of a throat infection - and Forsythe team-mate Paul Tracy behind.

Incredibly, Clarke was back in the pit just a couple of laps later, his new front wing now buckled under the nose of his car, an impetuous move at the hairpin on the restart having seen him clip the back of Legge's Dale Coyne entry. This time, there was to be no return for the Briton, Minardi having run out of spares.

The ran under green conditions for nearly ten laps, in which time Figge incurred his first spin of the afternoon after picking up a right rear puncture, possibly as the result of debris on track. The Pacific Coast Motorsport driver wasn't the cause of the next yellow, however. Instead, it was Legge, the third Briton in the race repeating Bourdais' earlier error at the 75mph turn two, but with more serious consequences as she clouted the wall hard. The ensuing caution saw both Doornbos and Dominguez duck in for a top-up of fuel before the lap 18 restart. The strategy was to have implications later in the race for the Dutchman, and it was clear that others were already attempting to conserve as much fuel as possible in the hope of utilising the amount of yellow running to turn the race into a two-stopper rather than the anticipated three. Graham Rahal, however took the need to save as much as possible a little too far, getting caught out by Alex Tagliani as he coasted into corners, dropping to fifth on the road.

Jani, however, showed no sign of backing off, diving down the inside of Servia in turn one on lap 34 to claim the lead. The two Europeans still held sway over Tracy, with Tagliani replacing Rahal in fourth, ahead of Will Power and Bourdais, who had swapped possession of sixth on lap six. Tristan Gommendy, Simon Pagenaud, Bruno Junqueira, Dominguez, Heylen, Doornbos and Figge completed those on the lead lap, while Wilson had rejoined by 20+ laps off the pace.

Tracy was the first to buckle under the need to refuel, coming in from third on lap 38. The leader, one of the early season's worst conservers of fuel, held out for another three tours, with the Power/Bourdais battle finally succumbing last of all, another lap on. The outcome was that Doornbos moved into P1, leading Dominguez on account of their alternative strategy, with the rest of the field slotting in behind, order relatively unchanged. Among the losers, however, was Rahal, whose attempts to save fuel were negated when he stalled at his stop, and Tagliani, the pair dropping to 13th and tenth respectively.

While Dominguez pitted just five laps later, the result of suspension damage rather than a need for fuel, Doornbos made full use of his lighter load by lapping anything up to a second faster than Jani and co behind him. The Dutchman knew that he needed to put as much daylight as possible between and his fellow Red Bull runner before making his stop - which eventually came on lap 53 - and had the hammer down. The ploy worked almost to perfection as the Minardi crew turned him around in quick time, allowing the #14 car to return to the fray between Servia and Tracy.

The order remained unchanged for the next ten laps, but Servia was getting impatient behind Jani. Determined to try and replicate Doornbos' getaway, the Catalan dived down the inside of the PKV car into the hairpin and appeared to have the position won until he ran slightly too wide on exit, allowing Jani to retake the spot. Undeterred, Servia tried again next time around, taking advantage of Champ Car's 'no blocking' policy to take the inside line away from his rival in an exact replica of his earlier move. This time, however, he ran Jani slightly deeper into the corner, giving himself the better exit and holding on to to P1. All the while, however, Doornbos continued to close in third, cutting the gap to leader to under a second....

Behind the top four, the midfield had concertina'd behind Power, the Australian holding off a growing group that included Bourdais, Pagenaud, the battling Heylen, Gommendy and the closing Rahal, while Junqueira, Tagliani and Figge headed the recovering Dominguez and Wilson, the Briton now trading fastest laps with Doornbos. When the hapless Figge again found the wall, Heylen decided to try his luck with an out-of-sequence stop, hoping for a full course caution to come on just after he had made it back to his stall. The Belgian's luck, already lacking this season, was out again, however, as Figge had managed to park his car in relative safety, allowing the race to proceed under a local caution. To then make matters worse for the Conquest driver, however, no sooner had he been lapped by Servia, than the Spaniard's team-mate did bring out the yellows.

Tracy had been expected as the first second-time fuel stopper, but never made it back to the pits after his car coughed and spluttered to a halt at turn seven, immediately before the pit entry. It turned out that he had been due to make his stop at the end of the previous lap but that radio problems had prevented him from getting the call in time to avoid passing the entry road. Although one of the shortest circuits on the calendar, the Redback Raceway proved a little too far for Tracy who, having been pushed to his stall, lost precious laps before he could resume.

The yellow, however, had its own degree of drama for those still in the race, with all bar Gommendy and Heylen opting to stop. While Jani, Servia and Doornbos made it back without problem, those behind did not, with both Team Australia cars in the wars, Power clipping the rear of the now-lapped Figge as the PCM driver peeled off into the first stall, and Pagenaud doing likewise to Bourdais as the senior Frenchman checked up because the incident ahead of him. Pagenaud came off worst in the clash, losing his front wing, although Bourdais' NHLR crew then had to remove the offending item from the rear of the McDonalds car.

That may have contributed to Bourdais failing to overhaul Power in the stops, the pair remaining glued together in the order they had been since Power passed his rival on lap six. That meant that the Australian was up to fourth, benefiting from Tracy's problem and Gommendy being put to the back of the pack after passing the safety car in his haste to get back to the pits for his second stop. Up front too, the order had changed, with Doornbos now out front from Jani and Servia.

The PKV driver wasted no time in rectifying the situation, blasting past Doornbos at the restart, while, further back, Tagliani's day ended with transmission failure. Jani remained in front for six laps, stretching his advantage all the while, before his growing lead was rubbed out when Figge spun for the third time, this time between turns three and four, necessitating another full course caution.

Jani again used his power-to-pass on the resumption, pulling an immediate gap over his pursuers, but Doornbos had been smart, figuring the Swiss driver would play that card and keeping his powder dry until next time around. Then, using his magic button, the Dutchman was able to get to the inside of the Red Bull machine at the hairpin. From there, Doornbos was able to pull away at will, opening a two-second advantage in the space of a lap and controlling the margin thereafter. The only changes to the order in the closing stages involved a fired-up Gommendy, who regained some ground by moving past both Heylen and Pagenaud for eighth, and Wilson, who took advantage of RSports team-mate Tagliani and Figge both being stranded to gain two spots - and a couple of vital points - in the closing laps.

While not quite the same sort of result as Bourdais had enjoyed in Edmonton last weekend - when neither of his title rivals made big points - Doornbos nevertheless eased himself back into the title picture by halving the gap between himself and the Frenchman. Power, too, trimmed a little off his deficit by edging Bourdais to the line, although neither made the podium as Jani and Servia held firm to the flag. Rahal recovered from his pit-lane misdemeanour to claim sixth, ahead of Junqueira - again quietly impressive for DCR - Gommendy, Pagenaud and Heylen, the last of the unlapped runners. The luckless Tracy, Dominguez and polewinner Wilson completed the finishers, two, three and 20 laps adrift respectively.

The championship now enjoys another week off before reconvening at the Road America road course in Elkhart Lake, the final round on the North American continent before it returns to Europe with races at Zolder and Assen in late summer.

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