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Doornbos rebounds from early crash
San Jose, CA (Sports Network) - Rookie Robert Doornbos rebounded from a first-lap crash to win Sunday's San Jose Grand Prix Champ Car event. The No.14 Minardi Team USA driver crossed the finish line 6.144 seconds ahead of Neel Jani.
The victory was Doornbos' second of the season. His first career Champ Car win came at the Grand Prix of Mont-Tremblant earlier this month.
After winning his second pole of the season, Justin Wilson led the 17-car field around the 1.448-mile, 11-turn, temporary circuit to the green flag.
The story of the first few laps was engine problems. After Doornbos got into the back of Jan Heylen in turn one, Sebastien Bourdais dropped back to eighth when he accidentally shut off his engine. The leader had his share of problems when his engine acted up as the field got ready for the restart on lap five. Dan Clarke crashed into the back of Wilson as he slowed down.
Dan Clarke and Doornbos both took pit stops to get new noses on their cars. Wilson eventually returned to the track, but finished in a disappointing 13th place.
When the madness finally settled down, Oriol Servia somehow found himself in the first position. Jani, Paul Tracy, Graham Rahal and Alex Tagliani completed the top-five early on.
Servia was still showing the way when Katherine Legge brought out the next caution flag on lap 14. The race went back to green four laps later.
The 33-year-old Servia kept his margin around one second. But Jani quickly cut into the gap and on lap 34 Jani ducked under Servia as they exited the first turn for the lead.
On lap 39, Tracy, running in third, started a cycle of green flag pit stops. The leader had a clean pit stop three laps later. As the leaders continued to cycle through a round of pit stops, Rahal stalled his car in his pit box. This mistake knocked him outside of the top-10.
When the stops were complete the new leader was Doornbos. The Minardi Team USA driver was on a different pit strategy, his last stop came on lap 16. Jani, Servia, Tracy and Will Power followed behind.
The 25-year-old rookie had over a 20-second margin when he came down pit road on lap 54. He reentered the track in the third spot after his stop behind Jani and Servia. Tracy and Power drove in fourth and fifth, respectively.
The battle for the first position heated up on lap 65. The Swiss rookie Jani turned back a surging Servia as they made their way around the hairpin first turn. Jani repeated the same move on the next lap to keep Servia behind him. But Servia was too fast for Jani and got around him on lap 66 for the lead.
Servia was still in the lead when Tracy ran out of fuel to bring out the caution flag on lap 76. During the caution period everyone came down pit road for their last stops.
When the stops were complete, Doornbos held onto the first spot after a quick stop. Jani, Servia, Tristan Gommendy and Power followed behind. The race got back underway with a little over 23 minutes remaining, lap 84.
A great restart by Jani allowed him to pass Doornbos as they made their way through the first turn. Servia and Power followed behind in third and fourth as the three-time champion Bourdais made his way into the top-five.
The No.21 PKV Racing driver started to put some distance between himself and Doornbos. The margin reached two seconds before Alex Figge brought out the caution flag on lap 90.
On lap 94, around 12 minutes left, Jani led Doornbos, Servia, Power and Bourdais to the restart.
Jani was able to hold onto the first position, but Doornbos stayed close to him, not allowing him to pull away. On lap 96 Doornbos took the inside lane as they entered turn one. Once again the first turn proved to be the place to pass as Doornbos retook the lead.
With five minutes to go, lap 101, Doornbos had a 3.844-second lead over Jani. The remaining drivers in the top-five stayed the same.
Doornbos continued to increase his margin as the race neared its end. Nobody was able to catch him as he crossed the finish line unchallenged.
Jani, Servia, Power and Bourdais completed the top-five.
The next race in the series is set for Sunday, August 12th at Road America.
07/29 20:16:16 ET