Bourdais Reigns in Long Beach

Reigning Champion Sebastien Bourdais opened his 2005 account with a comfortable win over Paul Tracy at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach

Polesitter Bruno Junqueira led the field away for the first time this year but Tracy, on his red-walled option tyres, used his push to pass button to power by the Brazilian at the first turn, with teammate Mario Dominguez following his lead by passing Bourdais immediately behind the pair.

Within a lap Bourdais also had to make way for a flying Justin Wilson, falling back to fifth place just ahead of rookie Timo Glock. The Newman Haas pair regrouped, and on lap four Junqueira went by the Canadian, who locked his wheels after just missing his braking spot, while Bourdais retook fourth place with a clean move on the Briton.

Further back teammates Nelson Philippe and Andrew Ranger came together, with the Canadian punching his teammate into the wall and bringing out the first caution period of the race.

Jimmy Vasser and Marcus Marshall took advantage of the yellow flags to pit, while the Conquest teammates limped back to the pits as well - Ranger was in for a slightly longer stop that usual, but Philippe lost three laps while running repairs were effected to his badly damaged car.

At the restart on lap ten Tracy again pushed to pass at the green flag to run by Junqueira, with the order behind them now Dominguez, Bourdais, Wilson and Glock, who pitted under green on lap 27 to fall back to eighteenth.

It was to be the start of the leader's pitstops - Tracy and Junqueira ran in and out in that order on lap 29, one lap ahead of Dominguez. Bourdais was now leading, and when Fabrizio Del Monte spun on lap 31 the Frenchman tiptoed by the stalled car and managed to clear his first stop just before the yellow was shown.

Vasser now led Tracy and Bourdais behind the safety car, but immediately lost the place at the restart and then second to Bourdais, now on the red option tyres, a few turns later.

The tactical stop for option tyres was a masterstroke - Bourdais was through Tracy and gone on lap 36, with the Canadian trying and failing to run at the Frenchman's pace ahead of Vasser, a surprisingly fast Ranger and Junqueira.

The order remained unchanged until Vasser, Ranger and Glock pitted on lap 41. Ricardo Sperafico stopped on track on lap 44, drawing another caution period, but it was too early for the leaders to take advantage.

With the leading runners on lap 60 now Bourdais, Tracy, Junqueira, Dominguez and Bremer it was time for more pitstops: first Junqueira, then Tracy, Bourdais and Dominguez a lap later, leaving Bremer to claim two laps in the lead before stopping.

Vasser and Ranger, running out of sequence, led for a further ten laps before stopping.

Ranger showed his inexperience after the stop, sliding into the wall on cold tyres to bring out yet another yellow flag period.

Bourdais, now leading Tracy once again, left the Canadian standing at the restart on lap 73, while Junqueira ran inside and through Dominguez behind them for third place, ahead of Wilson and Glock.

With just four laps to go Philippe, now running many laps down and on his option tyres, spun on his own, while on the other side of the track Wilson passed Dominguez to claim a strong fourth place in the race.

But ahead of him Bourdais started the season as he meant to go on, controlling the race well to take the chequered flag more than four seconds ahead of Tracy, with Junqueira another second behind in third.

The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach - Race Results

Pos  Driver         Team             Time
 1.  Bourdais       Newman-Haas      1h 46:29.768
 2.  Tracy          Forsythe         +      4.138
 3.  Junqueira      Newman-Haas      +      5.447
 4.  Wilson         RuSport          +      6.271
 5.  Dominguez      Forsythe         +      7.917
 6.  Glock          Rocketsports     +      8.501
 7.  Bremer         HVM              +      8.999
 8.  Allmendinger   RuSport          +     10.945
 9.  Vasser         PKV              +     14.806
10.  da Matta       PKV              +     16.074
11.  Servia         Dale Coyne       +     18.719
12.  Wirdheim       HVM              +     19.651
13.  Hunter-Reay    Rocketsports     +     20.035
14.  Marshall       Team Australia   +     1 lap 
15.  Tagliani       Team Australia   +     2 laps
16.  Del Monte      Jensen           +     7 laps
17.  Ranger         Conquest         +    11 laps
18.  Philippe       Conquest         +    20 laps
19.  Sperafico      Dale Coyne       +    40 laps

Fastest lap: Bourdais, 1:09.171 (lap 69)
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