Da Matta Rues Missed Opportunity

Cristiano da Matta was left to ponder what might have been after throwing away a potential victory at Cleveland on Sunday

Da Matta Rues Missed Opportunity

The Brazilian was in with a shout of claiming his second Champ Car win on the trot when an altercation with the slower car of Marcus Marshall ended his race on lap 51.

Da Matta held a comfortable second place in the early stages and inherited the lead thanks to a fortuitously timed full-course caution immediately following his first pit stop.

Shortly after the halfway mark, by which time he had built a four-second margin over Paul Tracy, Lady Luck deserted him. He was coming up to lap rookies Marshall and Timo Glock (who were battling for 12th place) when he wrong-footed himself coming through the final fast chicane, collided with Marshall and broke his PKV Racing Lola's left-front suspension.

"I'm very disappointed obviously," said da Matta. "We were running strong and pulling away from the rest of the field.

"I was closing on Marcus and Timo. They were side-by-side going into the corner and Marcus ran a little wide onto the marbles. I was pretty close to them and I lost the air on my front wing. My car went straight ahead and I hit Marcus in the left-rear [wheel] with my right-front.

"It was just one of those stupid racing incidents. It can happen to anyone - unfortunately, it happened to me today."

Da Matta's miscue was particularly costly because a win would have thrust him into the thick of the Championship battle; instead he heads to Toronto sixth in the standings, 48 points adrift of leader Tracy.

"Obviously, we had a chance to gain in the Championship if the race had kept going the way it was," acknowledged da Matta.

"We definitely didn't want to throw those points away. For sure we had a good result in our hands - a podium in the worst-case scenario but we were pulling away from everyone and it looked like we had a shot to win."

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