Power Failure Thwarts Bourdais

Almost as fast as the weather changes in the Pacific Northwest, the Saturday qualifying results for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland were thrown into doubt due to an electrical power failure 14 minutes into the 35-minute timed session

Power Failure Thwarts Bourdais

It transpired that Timing & Scoring, in spite of having five laptops to every person staffed, didn't have a backup system for the transponder input and hence there was no reliable way of verifying times set during the power cut.

Sebastien Bourdais, for one, believed he had been short-changed amid the ensuing confusion. The pit timing monitors and the Frenchman's dashboard showed he had improved his Friday time by two-tenths of a second during the power outage. But when power was restored six minutes later, Bourdais' fastest lap had disappeared from the screens.

"I read the time on the dash - a 57.79s - and we had run the fastest lap of the session at that point," recounted a disappointed Bourdais (who had also been stripped of his fastest Friday lap time for obstructing a faster car while exiting the pits).

"Then I brought the car back to the pits because of the red flag. The monitor showed us P1. We are checking with Race Control to get a clarification of the situation. Since there was a power outage they are checking their data."

Because Champ Car 'lost' Bourdais' fastest lap - which would have placed him on the front row alongside polesitter Justin Wilson and widened his Championship lead over Wilson to seven points - Newman/Haas brought their own data evidence to the officials.

Some three hours later (including an interruption for the driver's meeting), the posted results were upheld. At that point Newman/Haas had 30 minutes to file an official protest, as had the Rocketsports team for Ryan Hunter-Reay, who had also registered a slightly quicker lap before the scoring meltdown.

It's likely the evidence supplied by Newman/Haas didn't sway the officials for fear of opening up a can of worms that would result in other teams pleading their cases on the basis of their data. Ultimately, no protests were filed and Bourdais will start Sunday's race from fifth rather than second on the grid.

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