Bourdais makes it two in a row at Houston
Houston, TX (Sports Network) - Sebastien Bourdais won Sunday's Grand Prix of Houston Champ Car race on the streets of downtown Houston. The No.1 Newman/Haas/Lanigan driver crossed the finish line 4.818 seconds ahead of runner-up rookie 18-year-old Graham Rahal.
The victory was Bourdais' second in a row, second of the season and 25th of his Champ Car career.
Will Power brought the field to the green flag for 105 minutes of racing after a penalty in the second qualifying session booted Bourdais off the pole. He received the penalty for blocking during the session.
Power went into the first turn, but Bourdais cut through the chicane to grab the lead, an illegal move. Officials made the call and on lap four Bourdais gave up the position. But he gave the lead to Justin Wilson, who had earlier passed Power.
"I took a good start and I was side-by-side with Will but there was nowhere to go," said Bourdais of his lap one problem.
With clean air and no one in front of him, Wilson began to build a solid lead. But Bourdais fought back and by lap 11 was right back on Wilson's rear wing. The three-time champion made his move on lap 14 and beat him into turn two for the lead.
Once Bourdais got the lead, he quickly expanded it. By the end of the 15th lap he was already 2.001 second ahead of Wilson. By lap 20 the margin was 4.913 seconds. Bourdais was relentless, posting lap after lap better than Wilson and Power.
On lap 27 Roberto Moreno and Matt Halliday were battling for position when Moreno clipped Halliday's front wing. The wing lodged underneath Moreno bringing out the caution flag.
All lead cars pitted with Bourdais winning the race off pit road. But second out was Oriol Servia as the No.3 pit crew got him out ahead of both Wilson and Power.
The race went back to green with all cars in single file formation. Bourdais again built a lead, but on lap 35 radioed to his pit crew that he thought he had a left-rear tire going down.
Bourdais' team didn't see a problem and the Frenchman's times didn't reflect a problem. After three laps of green-flag racing his lead was 0.930 seconds and by lap 45 the gap was 1.730 seconds. But like the first lead, a caution flag involving Roberto Moreno (spin) erased it in a snap.
None of the leaders pitted as they couldn't go the "distance" on a tank of fuel.
Power lost his front win on lap 52 leaving him outside the top-10 with less than 45 minutes to go. Power had tried to get past Wilson and as he tried to slid underneath him, Wilson's left-rear tire caught Power's front wing, breaking it into pieces. Wilson also had to pit with a cut tire.
For the third time, Bourdais built his lead to more than one second through 60 laps. Then Bourdais got a little lucky as he pitted on lap 69 just when two separate two-car crashes took place to bring out a full-course caution flag . Katherine Legge, Neel Jani, Will Power and Mario Dominguez were the cars involved.
Bourdais returned to the track in third place, but the two cars in front of him, Tristan Gommendy and Ryan Dalziel still had to pit one more time. Dalziel made his stop on lap 71 leaving just one car ahead of Bourdais.
Bourdais began to attack the rookie closing to 0.426 seconds on lap 78. On the following lap he looked to the inside of Gommendy, but didn't pull the trigger. After failing on his first attempt he seemed to back off knowing that he really didn't have to make the pass to win the race.
There were still 10 minutes to go (about nine green-flag laps) and Gommendy seemed to have enough fuel for about three laps.
With six minutes remaining, Gommendy tried to make the turn down pit lane but ran out of fuel, the team had tried to stretch it too far. Bourdais retook the top spot with teammate Graham Rahal behind him.
Bourdais cruised to his second consecutive win. Robert Doorbos, Servia and Simon Pagenaud completed the top-five. For Doornbos, it was his second podium finish in three career starts.
"It was a shame what happened to us yesterday, but its behind us and the guys did a great job," said Bourdais.
The next race in the series is set for Sunday, May 20th in Zhuhai City, China.
04/22 17:12:13 ET