Sebastien Bourdais waited until his final lap to barge to the top of the time sheets in first practice for the Champ Car race here in Surfers Paradise.
The Frenchman had appeared to be struggling to get out of the 1:34s, but with his final two laps, the Newman/Haas driver took second with a 1:33.891, then grabbed top slot from Alex Tagliani's Team Australia car with a devastating 1:33.441, an average speed of 107.683 mph.
Tagliani and teammate Will Power held first and second for much of the second half of the session, much to the delight of the crowd. However, RuSPORT Justin Wilson pipped Power for third in the final two minutes, and Power - like many before him - overcooked his entry into Turn 1 on his final run.
Paul Tracy and AJ Allmendinger were fifth and eighth fastest, despite neither being out on track in the closing minutes. Tracy clipped a tyre at the daunting VB chicane, which broke his left front suspension and sent him spearing hard-left into the wall. Allmendinger, meanwhile, went straight on at Turn 3 and stalled.
Champ Car rookie Ryan Briscoe did a commendable job to keep his RuSPORT car off the wall, a gnat's quicker than Antonio Pizzonia who is driving the Rocketsports car for the third time this year. Andreas Wirth had mild contact with a wall early in the session, his Dale Coyne car propping up the timesheets.
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Sebastien Bourdais Newman/Haas 1:33.441
2. Alex Tagliani Team Australia 1:33.813 + 0.372
3. Justin Wilson RuSPORT 1:34.032 + 0.591
4. Will Power Team Australia 1:34.074 + 0.633
5. Paul Tracy Forsythe 1:34.110 + 0.669
6. Bruno Junqueira Newman/Haas 1:34.122 + 0.681
7. Oriol Servia PKV 1:34.617 + 1.176
8. AJ Allmendinger Forsythe 1:34.852 + 1.411
9. Nelson Philippe CTE - HVM 1:34.906 + 1.465
10. Mario Dominguez Rocketsports 1:35.428 + 1.987
11. Ryan Briscoe RuSPORT 1:35.660 + 2.219
12. Antonio Pizzonia Rocketsports 1:35.694 + 2.253
13. Dan Clarke CTE - HVM 1:35.783 + 2.342
14. Andrew Ranger Mi-Jack Conquest 1:36.040 + 2.599
15. Katherine Legge PKV 1:37.003 + 3.562
16. Jan Heylen Dale Coyne 1:37.855 + 4.414
17. Charles Zwolsman Mi-Jack Conquest 1:38.222 + 4.781
18. Andreas Wirth Dale Coyne 1:38.650 + 5.209