Bourdais Pips Tracy for Pole

Sebastien Bourdais snatched pole position from arch-rival Paul Tracy in final qualifying for the Toronto Champ Car race - despite crashing in the brief warm-up held immediately before the session

Having been fastest in practice this morning, Bourdais was determined to get the better of Tracy in the crucial afternoon session, but he tagged the wall and damaged a wheel halfway through the warm-up.

While the Newman/Haas team hurriedly repaired the damage to the Frenchman's McDonald's Lola, Tracy was reigning supreme on track, carving three tenths of a second from his Friday mark and heading the field by half a second at the session's halfway point.

Fellow local hero Alex Tagliani (Team Australia) briefly made it an all-Canadian front row, before Bourdais emerged from the pits and grabbed the glory with a 58.552 lap.

With the Friday polesitter guaranteed a front row start under Champ Car's rules, Tracy retains second on the grid even though Britain's Justin Wilson was second fastest in Saturday's session.

The RuSPORT driver, still chasing his first Champ Car win, was just two-thousandths of a second slower than Bourdais, and improved on his Friday time by a full second.

"After yesterday, we'll take that!" said Wilson, who was only seventh on the provisional grid. "It's a vast improvement. A big thanks to the guys for giving me a car that's capable of doing that.

"I just want to have a good, clean race and try to keep the pressure on those two. Sebastien and Paul are the class of the field at the moment, and if we want to have any chance of winning races, we've got to keep pushing them."

Bourdais' teammate Oriol Servia will join Wilson on row two. Newman/Haas Racing's latest 'supersub' was hampered by an undetected slow puncture on Friday, but showed his true pace today, improving by 1.3s.

Tagliani slipped from third to fifth on the final grid, ahead of Mario Dominguez (Forsythe) and PKV teammates Jimmy Vasser and Cristiano da Matta. The Brazilian was the only driver not to improve on his Friday time, and fell from fourth to eighth as a consequence.

AJ Allmendinger missed the warm-up and the first few minutes of qualifying after an engine problem became apparent in morning practice. He was ninth overall and 0.862s slower than teammate Wilson.

Big gains by Conquest Racing's Nelson Philippe and Andrew Ranger saw the teenage duo move up to 10th and 11th, with Ranger the top rookie qualifier in his first Champ Car race on home soil.

Series newcomer Ryan Dalziel had hoped to break into the top 10 in his first drive for Dale Coyne Racing, but had to settle for 16th on the grid, just ahead of the troubled Ryan Hunter-Reay.

At least Hunter-Reay's Rocketsports teammate Timo Glock had a slight cause for optimism, as he shook off the problems that had plagued his weekend so far and moved up from last to 14th.

Champ Car returnee Alex Sperafico brought the session to an early end by crashing and causing a red flag stoppage with just two minutes to go. The Brazilian, who replaced the cash-strapped Ronnie Bremer at HVM, looked promising in practice but ended the session only 15th fastest and 0.5s behind teammate Bjorn Wirdheim.

With the top 12 cars in today's session covered by just 1.1s, tomorrow's race ought to be a frenetic affair. So far this weekend has been an action replay of last season, when Bourdais also overcame Friday polesitter Tracy in the final session. Bourdais then went on to win the race, while Tracy got involved in a few scrapes and dropped to fifth, not a result that he will wish to repeat on Sunday.

With Champ Car's fiercest rivals side-by-side on the front row and their title fight at a delicate stage, tomorrow's race could be the best of the season so far.

Molson Indy Toronto - Combined Qualifying Result:

Pos  Driver               Team                    Time             Laps
 1.  Sebastien Bourdais   Newman Haas              58.552           22
 2.  Paul Tracy           Forsythe Championship    58.594 + 0.042   29
 3.  Justin Wilson        RuSPORT                  58.554 + 0.002   27
 4.  Oriol Servia         Newman Haas              58.795 + 0.243   20
 5.  Alex Tagliani        Team Australia           58.821 + 0.269   24
 6.  Mario Dominguez      Forsythe Championship    59.089 + 0.537   30
 7.  Jimmy Vasser         PKV                      59.256 + 0.704   24
 8.  Cristiano da Matta   PKV                      59.372 + 0.820   27
 9.  A.J. Allmendinger    RuSPORT                  59.416 + 0.864   28
10.  Nelson Philippe      Mi-Jack Conquest         59.448 + 0.896   22
11.  Andrew Ranger        Mi-Jack Conquest         59.486 + 0.934   24
12.  Bjorn Wirdheim       HVM, Inc.                59.705 + 1.153   30
13.  Ricardo Sperafico    Dale Coyne               59.961 + 1.409   30
14.  Timo Glock           Rocketsports           1:00.189 + 1.637   19
15.  Alex Sperafico       HVM, Inc.              1:00.336 + 1.784   26
16.  Ryan Dalziel         Dale Coyne             1:00.436 + 1.884   28
17.  Ryan Hunter-Reay     Rocketsports           1:00.591 + 2.039   29
18.  Marcus Marshall      Team Australia         1:00.613 + 2.061   30

All Timing Unofficial

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