2007 Belgian Champ Car Grand Prix

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Belgium   2007 Belgian Champ Car Grand Prix
Race details
Race 11 of 14 in the 2007 Champ Car season
Zolder Track Layout
Zolder Track Layout
Date August 26, 2007
Official name Belgian Champ Car Grand Prix
Location Circuit Zolder, Heusden-Zolder, Belgium
Course Permanent Road Course
2.492 mi / 4.010 km
Distance 71 laps, 176.932 mi / 284.744 km
Weather Cloudy
Pole position
Driver France Sébastien Bourdais N/H/L Racing
Time 1:12.821
Fastest lap
Driver France Sébastien Bourdais N/H/L Racing
Time 1:14.089 (on lap 39 of 71)
Podium
First France Sébastien Bourdais N/H/L Racing
Second Brazil Bruno Junqueira Dale Coyne Racing
Third United States Graham Rahal N/H/L Racing

The 2007 Belgian Champ Car Grand Prix was the eleventh round of the 2007 Champ Car World Series Season. It was held on August 26 at Circuit Zolder in Heusden-Zolder, Belgium. The race was won by Sébastien Bourdais and was his sixth victory of the season.

Background[edit]

The race was part of a short tour through Europe, with the race at TT Circuit Assen in The Netherlands one week later. It was the series' first and last ever race in Belgium. On January 16, 2007, the Champ Car World Series announced a multi-year agreement that would see the return of Champ Cars to Europe for the first time since 2003 with inaugural races in the Netherlands and Belgium. It was the first time that Champ Car has raced in either of the two European nations. "We are excited to bring the American equivalent of Formula 1 racing to Europe," said event promoter Bart Rietbergen. "Champ Car provides close racing that is easy for European fans to understand, and they will be very impressed with the access that they will have in the Champ Car paddock."[citation needed]

Conquest Racing driver Jan Heylen found himself in a home race on the circuit that lies just 30 km (19 mi) from Geel, the place where he was born. Next to Heylen, Robert Doornbos also had many fans as the track lies close to his native country, the Netherlands.

Qualifying results[edit]

Pos Nat Name Team Qual 1 Qual 2 Best
1 France Sébastien Bourdais N/H/L Racing 1:14.023 1:12.821 1:12.821
2 Australia Will Power Team Australia 1:13.810 1:13.194 1:13.194
3 Netherlands Robert Doornbos Minardi Team USA no time 1:13.067 1:13.067
4 Brazil Bruno Junqueira Dale Coyne Racing 1:14.433 1:13.313 1:13.313
5 United Kingdom Justin Wilson RSPORTS 1:15.041 1:13.327 1:13.327
6 Canada Alex Tagliani RSPORTS 1:14.960 1:13.384 1:13.384
7 Canada Paul Tracy Forsythe Racing 1:14.829 1:13.407 1:13.407
8 France Simon Pagenaud Team Australia 1:14.030 1:13.436 1:13.436
9 Switzerland Neel Jani PKV Racing 1:14.823 1:13.555 1:13.436
10 Spain Oriol Servià Forsythe Racing 1:14.812 1:13.720 1:13.720
11 Belgium Jan Heylen Conquest Racing no time 1:13.768 1:13.768
12 Mexico Mario Domínguez Minardi Team USA - 1:13.810 1:13.810
13 United States Graham Rahal N/H/L Racing 1:14.224 1:13.822 1:13.822
14 United Kingdom Katherine Legge Dale Coyne Racing 1:15.603 1:13.987 1:13.987
15 France Tristan Gommendy PKV Racing 1:14.590 1:13.995 1:13.995
16 United Kingdom Ryan Dalziel Pacific Coast Motorsports 1:15.498 1:14.002 1:14.002
17 United States Alex Figge Pacific Coast Motorsports 1:15.934 1:14.744 1:14.744

Team Minardi USA driver Dan Clarke was suspended by Champ Car race director Tony Cotman for reckless driving and avoidable contact at the start of Friday's first free practice session and thus did not participate for the remainder of the weekend. Clarke had been placed on probation after an incident with Justin Wilson at the San Jose Grand Prix. Caught up in the incident were Wilson and Belgian driver Jan Heylen. Severe damage to Heylen's car prevented him from taking part in Friday's qualifying session. Mario Domínguez replaced Clarke starting on Saturday, stepping into his fourth team for the year. Clarke's suspension would be reevaluated before the next week's Grand Prix of the Netherlands. Clarke's Team Minardi teammate Robert Doornbos was also unable to take part in Friday's session after blowing an engine at the end of the practice session immediately prior to qualifying.

Sébastien Bourdais was quickest on Saturday to win his fourth pole position of the season. It was also the fourth time Bourdais and Friday's fastest driver, Will Power, shared the front row. Doornbos recovered from his engine troubles on Friday to finish second fastest in the session, but started on the second row. Next to him was Dale Coyne Racing's Bruno Junqueira, who gave the long-struggling team its highest grid position since the 1999 Grand Prix of Long Beach.

Race[edit]

Pos Nat Name Team Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 France Sébastien Bourdais N/H/L Racing 71 1:45:21.997 1 33
2 Brazil Bruno Junqueira Dale Coyne Racing 71 +13.7 secs 4 27
3 United States Graham Rahal N/H/L Racing 71 +14.5 secs 13 26
4 Australia Will Power Team Australia 71 +15.1 secs 2 24
5 United Kingdom Justin Wilson RSPORTS 71 +16.0 secs 5 21
6 Spain Oriol Servià Forsythe Racing 71 +17.2 secs 10 19
7 Netherlands Robert Doornbos Minardi Team USA 71 +18.4 secs 3 17
8 Switzerland Neel Jani PKV Racing 71 +19.1 secs 9 15
9 Canada Alex Tagliani RSPORTS 71 +23.8 secs 6 13
10 Canada Paul Tracy Forsythe Racing 71 +24.5 secs 7 11
11 United Kingdom Katherine Legge Dale Coyne Racing 71 +28.8 secs 14 10
12 France Simon Pagenaud Team Australia 71 +33.2 secs 8 9
13 Belgium Jan Heylen Conquest Racing 71 +1:12.1 11 8
14 United States Alex Figge Pacific Coast Motorsports 70 + 1 Lap 17 7
15 United Kingdom Ryan Dalziel Pacific Coast Motorsports 67 + 4 Laps 16 6
16 France Tristan Gommendy PKV Racing 60 Mechanical 15 5
17 Mexico Mario Domínguez Minardi Team USA 47 Tyre 12 4

What began as another Sébastien Bourdais walkover took an interesting turn in the last thirty laps. Bourdais led away from the starting grid and held the lead until his second pit stop lap 40. On that lap, Bourdais lost the lead to a pack of alternate strategy cars who had pitted for the second time during a caution period on lap 27. Included in this pack were his teammate Graham Rahal who took the lead until he ducked into the pits on lap 47, relinquishing the lead to Bourdais.

Things got "really interesting" on lap 50 when a caution came out. Most drivers pitted a final pitstop but four drivers stayed out: Bruno Junqueira, Simon Pagenaud, local driver Jan Heylen, and Tristan Gommendy. Of the four drivers, Junqueira's gambit was the most dangerous to Bourdais, as he had stopped on lap 49. The other drivers only real hope for success was a lot of full course caution laps.

When the green flag came out again, the order was Pagenaud, Heylen, Gommendy, Junqueira, and Bourdais. After two hard fought laps, Junqueira gave up fourth place to Bourdais. Five laps later Gommendy gave up third spot shortly before pitting and then retiring with an oil leak.

Heylen gave up his gambit on lap 59 and while Pagenaud gamely hung on to the lead until lap 63, he never had any reasonable chance to make the end of the race. With that stop, Bourdais re-inherited the lead, while behind him Junqueira gamely clung to second place while saving fuel at the same time. Rahal did not have fuel concerns but was not able to find his way around the veteran driver.

That was the way the race ended, with Bourdais in front by more than 13 seconds. Junqueira's 2nd place was a historic achievement for the Dale Coyne Racing team, its best ever finish. Rahal settled for the fourth podium finish of his rookie season. Bourdais leads the season championship by 53 points over Robert Doornbos. Not an insurmountable lead, but one that leaves his challengers little hope of preventing the capture of his fourth straight Champ Car title.

Caution flags[edit]

Laps Cause
16-19 Track damage repair
26-28 Figge (29) off course
49-52 Domínguez (4) lost wheel

Notes[edit]

Laps Leader
1-40 Sébastien Bourdais
41-47 Graham Rahal
48-50 Sébastien Bourdais
51-63 Simon Pagenaud
64-71 Sébastien Bourdais
 
Driver Laps led
Sébastien Bourdais 51
Simon Pagenaud 13
Graham Rahal 7

[1][2]

Attendance[edit]

Attendance for the weekend at Zolder was 40,000 spectators, with 25,000 attending on race day, which was in line with the organizers expectations. Additionally that was the amount of fans they needed to attend to break even financially.[3][4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Belgian Champ Car Grand Prix". Champ Car Stats. Retrieved 9 December 2010. 
  2. ^ "Champ Car Grand Prix of Belgium". Ultimate Racing History. Retrieved 9 December 2010. 
  3. ^ "Le ChampCar à Zolder: "Un bilan satisfaisant..."". La Dernière Heure (in French). 27 August 2007. Retrieved 9 December 2010. 
  4. ^ "Belgian Grand Prix promoter blames high ticket prices for empty seats". CBSSports.com. 29 August 2007. Retrieved 9 December 2010. 
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