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Bourdais wins race and title

Sebastien Bourdais locked up a second consecutive Champ Car title in the best possible fashion with a dominant victory at Surfers Paradise on Sunday

The Frenchman took control of the race at the first round of pit stops, when he stayed out one lap longer than early leader Paul Tracy and rejoined in the lead. From there he streaked away into the distance and was never remotely challenged, cantering home nine seconds clear of AJ Allmendinger.

"It was a nice win, very straightforward once everything sorted out in the pit strategy," said Bourdais. "I was just very happy to see how quick we were again. It's such a great reward for this team that's working so hard. It's unbelievable."

The start at Surfers Paradise is always fraught, with a long straight funnelling into a tight, single-file chicane. This year was no exception, accounting for two of the leading contenders before the race was properly underway.

Bourdais got the jump on Newman/Haas teammate Oriol Servia, who was a little slow off the mark from his first ever Champ Car pole position.

Cristiano da Matta saw an opportunity to capitalise at the first chicane but left his braking impossibly late and cannoned into the back of Servia, knocking the Spaniard into a spin and collecting a blameless Mario Dominguez as he rebounded off the tyre wall.

Da Matta and Dominguez played no further part in the proceedings, but remarkably Servia's car was largely undamaged and after pitting for minor repairs he set about a spirited recovery drive from the back of the field.

Meanwhile Tracy, from fifth on the grid, had contrived to pick his way through the first-corner melee, outfumble Bourdais and emerge in the lead.

The two arch-rivals traded fastest laps as they ran almost in echelon throughout the first stint, Tracy edging away one lap, Bourdais clawing back a few car lengths the next.

Having already clinched the title simply by taking the start, Bourdais was determined to crown his achievement with victory, while Tracy was equally intent on depriving him of that privilege.

The pendulum swung decisively in Bourdais' favour at the first pit stop exchange. Taking full advantage of the extra lap he was able to eke out of his first tank of fuel, he converted a one second deficit into a three second lead, and never looked back.

Before he even had time to take stock of the situation Tracy was called back into the pits, an ominous haze of smoke from the back of his Forsythe Racing Lola heralding another retirement.

The Canadian's demise allowed Bourdais an unmolested run to the chequered flag and his sixth win of the year.

Allmendinger gave chase as best he could, but despite riding the Surfers chicane kerbs with more gusto than just about anybody, he steadily lost touch with the flying Bourdais, who posted the fastest lap of the race by two-thirds of a second and was in a class by himself.

Nonetheless Allmendinger was delighted with his fourth podium of the season.

"RuSPORT did a great job all weekend, because initially the car wasn't that good but at the end it was awesome," he said.

Teammate Justin Wilson looked set to claim the final podium spot until tripping up over the lapped Team Australia car of Marcus Marshall on lap 34. The ensuing unscheduled pit visit for a new set of tyres put him out of sequence with the leaders and, crucially, fell just outside the fuel window that would enable him to make it to the end without another stop.

There were no timely full-course yellows to bail him out, and with just two laps remaining Wilson had to pit for a splash of methanol, slipping from fifth to seventh place.

Jimmy Vasser stepped into the breach to claim third for PKV Racing for the second straight race â€" proving, in his own words, that "there's life in the old dog yet".

Alex Tagliani came home fourth for Team Australia, achieving a measure of redemption for an embarrassing faux pas that saw him punt teammate Will Power off into the tyre barrier at half-distance, ending a fine debut run for the young Australian.

Servia stormed through the field in the early laps, cracking the top ten by lap 14 and the top six by lap 28 thanks to some skilful overtaking. His progress was less spectacular in the second half of the race but a fifth place finish still represented an impressive damage limitation job.

Timo Glock (Rocketsports) sealed Rookie of the Year honours by finishing sixth, two places ahead of nearest rival Ronnie Bremer, who drove well for Dale Coyne Racing. The Dane's teammate Ricardo Sperafico and Mi-Jack Conquest Racing's Andrew Ranger rounded out the top ten.

Pos  Driver              Team                   Time
 1.  Sebastien Bourdais  Newman Haas            1:39:26.671
 2.  A.J. Allmendinger   RuSPORT                +     9.130
 3.  Jimmy Vasser        PKV                    +    31.852
 4.  Alex Tagliani       Team Australia         +    36.420
 5.  Oriol Servia        Newman Haas            +    43.968
 6.  Timo Glock          Rocketsports           +    45.616
 7.  Justin Wilson       RuSPORT                +    59.630
 8.  Ronnie Bremer       Dale Coyne             +  1:05.852
 9.  Ricardo Sperafico   Dale Coyne             +  1:16.292
10.  Andrew Ranger       Mi-Jack Conquest       +  1:33.488
11.  Marcus Marshall     Team Australia         +     1 lap
12.  Michael McDowell    Rocketsports           +     1 lap
13.  Rodolfo Lavin       HVM, Inc.              +    4 laps


     Driver              Team                   On Lap
     Nelson Philippe     Mi-Jack Conquest         47
     Will Power          Team Australia           29
     Fabrizio del Monte  HVM, Inc.                28
     Paul Tracy          Forsythe Championship    24
     Mario Dominguez     Forsythe Championship     1
     Cristiano da Matta  PKV                       0

Fastest lap: Bourdais, 1:32.063 on lap 39

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