Brands: Bourdais takes first win

Reigning Formula 3000 champion Sebastian Bourdais won Round Four of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford for Newman/Haas Racing. The French rookie driver dominated the proceedings at Brands Hatch, challenged only by series veteran Paul Tracy and Bruno Junqueira

Brands: Bourdais takes first win

After an abortive first start, poleman Paul Tracy (Player's/Forsythe Lola-Ford) stayed ahead of Bourdais (Newman/Haas Lola-Ford) into Paddock on the first lap proper, although the Frenchman bravely stayed alongside right up until the turn-in point. Further back, Adrian Fernandez (Fernandez Racing Lola-Ford) had a massive slide through the first corner and was only just missed by home hope Darren Manning (Walker Racing Reynard-Ford), who rose to seventh in the process.

The early laps were fairly static, with Fernandez overtaking Patrick Carpentier (Player's/Forsythe Lola-Ford) for eighth on lap 16 the only real action in the top 10. At the front, Tracy and his pursuers Bourdais and Junqueira were evenly matched and were circulating about 1sec apart.

At the first round of pitstops, Tracy suffered a slow getaway and rejoined in second behind Bourdais. The Frenchman had previously encountered an obstinate backmarker, Rodolfo Lavin (Walker Racing Reynard-Ford), which lost him 2secs just before his stop, although his service appeared to be much faster than his Canadian rival.

During the middle stint of the race, Bourdais held a gap of about 1sec to Tracy with Junqueira another 5secs in arrears. Mario Dominguez (Herdez Lola-Ford) moved up to fourth by this point, ahead of Oriol Servia's Patrick-run Lola-Ford.

Tracy had just made his second stop when oil smoke began to appear from the rear of his car. On lap 118, just as he crossed the start/finish line, his gearbox exploded with an impressive lick of flame and the series leader was forced to pull off and retire.

"Too bad," said Tracy. "We couldn't get the fuel mileage that Sebastien was doing, so a podium finish was our aim. But I felt it tighten a couple of laps before, so it was just a matter of time before it [the gearbox] blew."

Bourdais now held a 10sec lead over Junqueira, which the Brazilian whittled down in the remaining laps to as little as 3secs but it had gone out to 7.8s by the chequered flag. After scoring his first win, Bourdais celebrated in time-honoured fashion with a series of doughnuts, which ended a little prematurely when he stalled the engine.

"It's a dream," said Bourdais. "We got a bit lucky with Paul having a problem, but to win feels really good."

His team-mate Junqueira was a little less joyful with his runner-up spot: "It was OK, we tried to save fuel throughout the race. Finishing second is a good result for us."

A delighted Dominguez finished an excellent third, with Servia coming home in fourth. Carpentier was fifth, ahead of Michel Jourdain (who stalled his Team Rahal Lola-Ford during his first stop), Roberto Moreno (Herdez Lola-Ford) and Alex Tagliani (Rocketsports Lola-Ford), the highest of those who stopped for a splash-n-dash under the second yellow which meant he led a couple of laps before his final green flag stop.

Further back, Manning suffered a trip through the gravel at Paddock soon after his first pitstop, while Mario Haberfeld took to the grass at Graham Hill Bend at around the same time as cold tyres caught out the Reynard drivers. Alex Yoong caused the second yellow flag period of the day when he stuffed his Dale Coyne Racing Lola-Ford into the barriers at Druids on lap 79. The ex-Minardi F1 pilot was running in the points at the time.

Fernandez lost a top 10 finish when he tangled with Ryan Hunter-Reay at Druids near the end of the race. Manning finished a lapped 10th, behind Mario Haberfeld.

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