Race: Bourdais makes hay on Bastille Day

Lightning overhead and fireworks on the track characterised the eighth round of the FIA Formula 3000 Championship which was won by Sebastien Bourdais, the Frenchman taking his first win in the series.

Race: Bourdais makes hay on Bastille Day

Meanwhile, series leader Justin Wilson took a step closer to the championship by taking the runner-up spot and, more importantly, eclipsing his chief title rivals - but it wasn't plain sailing for the lanky Northerner.

The first incident that changed the face of the race occurred when pole man and early leader Tomas Enge made a big mistake by sliding wide at Becketts on lap four. His team mate Wilson then attempted to capitalise by making a brave bid for the lead around the outside of Stowe, but title rival Enge showed no mercy and left the Englishman little room.

Wilson was forced to run wide across the gravel trap, allowing Bourdais to move up to second in his DAMS-run car as Justin dropped to third. He wasn't too impressed with Enge's tactics.

"He made a big mistake at Becketts," said Wilson. "I outbraked him into Stowe by quite a long way but then we both ran a bit wide. I had to decide whether to hold my line or go into the gravel, and I thought it was best to finish the race."

The other big player in the championship, Mark Webber, held a solid fourth but looked unable to close on those ahead in his Super Nova machine.

The briefest of rain showers with 10 laps to go turned the race on its head once more, as Enge slid wide across the Copse gravel trap. Although he got massively sideways too, Bourdais stayed on the track, but Enge fell behind Wilson to third.

Wilson then attacked Bourdais for the lead as the rain eased off, but appeared to settle for second when it intensified over the final couple of laps, allowing Bourdais to win by just under a second. This despite the fact the bodywork covering the front dampers had long since flown off at Stowe.

"I was surprised when the bodywork flew off, it cost me a bit of straightline speed," said Bourdais, who won the DAMS team's first F3000 race since Enna in 1997. "The feeling of winning this race is something that's impossible to describe. It got really difficult when it rained. Sometimes Copse was wet, sometimes Stowe was wet. It's is very satisfying for the team and for me."

As if that wasn't enough, Enge lost third place in the final hundred yards as his engine cut out. That allowed Antonio Pizzonia, who started seventh and tigered his way past Ricardo Mauricio, Darren Manning and Mark Webber with some sensational passing moves, on to the final step of the podium, as Enge coasted across the line in fifth.

Webber's salvaged fourth place maintains his second place in the championship, but he has now fallen four points adrift of Wilson. Enge is now nine points shy of his team mate, with four races remaining in the title chase.

Manning (Arden) took the final point in sixth, despite having briefly headed Webber on the opening lap at Stowe. He fell back when his car began to smoke at mid-distance, and had to fend off the attentions of Mauricio in the second half of the race.

Sebastien Bourdais, DAMS, 50m56.439s
Justin Wilson, Nordic, +0.926
Antonio Pizzonia, Petrobras, +4.342s
Mark Webber, Super Nova, +7.543s
Tomas Enge, Nordic, +8.293s
Darren Manning, Arden, +10.870s
Ricardo Mauricio, Red Bull, 12.549s
Bas Leinders, KTR, +14.080s
Jonathan Cochet, Prost Junior, +14.523s
Fabrizio Golin, Coloni, +24.324s
Ricardo Sperafico, Petrobras, +32.598s
Jamie Melo, Durango, +35.627s
Giorgio Lancieri, Durango, +43.909s
Rodrigo Sperafico, Coloni, +44.405s
Mario Haberfeld, Super Nova, +1m04.626s
Viktor Maslov, Arden, +1m11.168s
Joel Camathias, KTR, +1m19.001s
Zsolt Baumgartner, Prost Junior, +1m23.838s
Patrick Friesacher, Red Bull, +1 lap
Giorgio Pantano, Astromega, spun off
Andrea Piccini, European Minardi, spun off
Dino Morelli, Astromega, gave up
Derek Hill, DAMS, car broke
David Saelens, European Minardi, crashed in practice

Wilson, 43
Webber, 39
Enge, 34
Bourdais, 18
Leinders, 12
Pizzonia, 12

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