Wilson Rebounds in Style

Justin Wilson rebounded impressively from a difficult start to his Toronto weekend to secure third on the grid for today's race

Wilson Rebounds in Style

The lanky Briton found himself grappling with a tail-happy car in Friday morning's practice and could manage only the seventh fastest time in provisional qualifying.

But some judicious set-up changes transformed the handling of the #9 RuSPORT Lola (which is bearing allegiance to a new sponsor, CDW, this weekend) and Wilson was a pole contender throughout the decisive final qualifying session session on Saturday.

"In the pre-qualifying [warm-up] session the car really started to come good," he related. "We didn't touch it from then until qualifying, we just added new tyres.

"I'm pleased with turning it around from yesterday. My engineer Todd [Malloy] and crew worked really hard for me."

Wilson did have some cause for disappointment, however: He will start third despite posting the second best time, as under Champ Car rules a front-row starting spot is reserved for the fastest driver from each of the two qualifying sessions.

Even more tantalising was the fact that the margin separating him from polesitter Sebastien Bourdais was an infinitesimal two-thousandths of a second!

"I am disappointed to lose one place for 0.002s, but to lose two..." Wilson smiled ruefully. "It's very close, and it just shows how competitive the Championship is these days."

Wilson has had a strong start to his second season of Champ Car racing, racking up the points and generally putting highly rated teammate AJ Allmendinger in the shade. But he has yet to score a big result; unbelievably, he is still chasing his first podium, let alone victory.

Allmendinger, meanwhile, has visited the rostrum twice already this season and nosed ahead of Wilson in the points standings thanks to his runner-up finish last time out in Cleveland.

The American was unable to shake off his Friday blues at Toronto yesterday and qualified ninth after an unscheduled engine change over the lunch break. But he was magnanimous enough to give credit to his teammate, with whom he enjoys a keen but friendly rivalry.

"I'm really happy for Justin," said Allmendinger. "He did a great job today. We did an engine change and really pushed to get the car ready for qualifying. My guys did a great job, but we still just had no grip in the car."

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Author Alex Sabine
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