A favourite moment of 2004

The best race of the 2004 Champ Car World Series was rendered so by the best drive of the season. That was Sébastien Bourdais' performance at Denver. He and Newman-Haas team-mate Bruno Junqueira collided at the first corner, which knocked the Frenchman down among the backmarkers. At first, one might have expected this to lead to Junqueira scoring his first win of the year; here was a chance for the Brazilian to finally show his teeth in his hitherto largely subdued season.

A favourite moment of 2004

Instead all Bruno did was prepare the stage for Sebastien to prove why he was the only worthy recipient of this year's Champ Car title. Bourdais scythed through the field, outmanoeuvring Junqueira and defending champion Paul Tracy on the way to first position, and went on to score a devastatingly emphatic victory. Later Séb declared it to have been his greatest race ever.

It wasn't, however, my favourite moment. That came at Elkhart Lake, when Alex Tagliani finally scored his first Champ Car victory at the 85th time of asking. Tag is one of those drivers who had long divided opinion among pundits: many looked on him as a hothead who gets involved in too many accidents, but a few reckoned he had what it took to win. I had been firmly entrenched in the latter category ever since his rookie season in 2000. He took five poles and led 15 races in the intervening period, but something - a silly mistake, a mechanical failure or a wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time moment - would relegate him. But some kept the faith: one day, Alex Tagliani would deliver.

That he delivered to Rocketsports Racing was also heartwarming. Its team owner Paul Gentilozzi is one of the trio to save Champ Car racing this year, he's an arch enthusiast of racing as a whole (he is this year's TransAm champion) and he runs his team not as a rich man's plaything but as a serious entry in the greatest form of racing on earth. And on 08 August, Tagliani and Gentilozzi justified their mutual faith. It was touching in the extreme.

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