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Bourdais all but clinches title

Sebastien Bourdais has all but clinched the 2005 Champ Car World Series title after topping provisional qualifying at Surfers Paradise on Friday

By doing so he earned a bonus championship point, extending his lead over Newman/Haas teammate Oriol Servia to 68 points. Although there are 69 points still up for grabs, Bourdais only has to start Sunday's race and he will bag two more, putting him beyond Servia's reach no matter what the Spaniard does in the final two races.

Barring any calamities, therefore, Bourdais will become the first driver to win back-to-back Champ Car titles since Gil de Ferran achieved the feat with Penske in 2000-01.

The Frenchman has had a sometimes turbulent season but came on strong in midsummer with a trio of wins in Edmonton, San Jose and Denver. For much of the year he fought a tense duel with perennial nemesis Paul Tracy but the Canadian squandered any realistic hope of regaining the title he won in 2003 when he crashed out of the lead at Denver in August.

Bourdais has had one hand on the Vanderbilt Cup since the eleventh-hour cancellation of the South Korea race at the end of September, which gave his rivals only two races instead of three in which to surmount his lead.

That was a stroke of good fortune, but on the basis of his dogged points-scoring in the early part of the season and his supremacy in the second half, few would dispute that Bourdais is once again a worthy champion.

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