Engine Woes Rob Wilson of Win

Justin Wilson was on course to score his first Champ Car victory at Portland, and the first for the Colorado-based RuSPORT team, until his hopes were extinguished by an oil pump failure shortly before half-distance

Engine Woes Rob Wilson of Win

Wilson led easily from pole in the early going, leaving 2003 series champion Paul Tracy in his wake and never looking under any real pressure from behind. He drove flawlessly, never putting a wheel wrong in easily his most convincing performance to date behind the wheel of a Champ Car.

The news that something was amiss with his Ford-Cosworth engine came in the form of an unusual request from the team, who asked him to use his Push to Pass button down both the long front and back straights.

The reason was that Wilson's telemetry data foretold doom. The team, knowing Wilson's engine might not last, wanted to at least earn a championship point for setting the fastest race lap. As it turned out, Sebastien Bourdais stole that honour later in the race.

On lap 45 Wilson's normally reliable Ford-Cosworth engine suffered an internal drive failure, resulting in a loss of oil pressure and power. His race was over.

"This was a great opportunity," said a heartbroken Wilson afterwards. "The engineering on my car was fantastic. My car was just a little better than everyone else's. I'm very disappointed because it was so easy out there. This really hurts.

"During my first stint I was very happy with my car. Even my first pit stop was very smooth and I had built up a comfortable six-second lead. It's the easiest car I've ever had in a race.

"I only noticed a slight engine misfire about 10 to 15 laps into the race but then everything seemed fine. The team saw something on the telemetry but it didn't affect me. So they thought it was just a sensor problem.

"At least we know we can lead a race. We'll be strong in Cleveland."

Wilson's mechanical woes drop him from second to third in the championship standings, 29 points behind Sebastien Bourdais with 10 events left to contest in the season.

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