High attrition hit the first round of the Champ Car World Series at Las Vegas, but Will Power stormed through from pole to take his first ever win.
Seventeen drivers were on the grid for the first round of the Champ Car season and only six remained on the lead lap at the end.
The opening stages of the race was blighted by safety car periods as the combination of the tricky ‘option’ tyres, an unfamiliar car and the new, dusty Las Vegas street track created plenty of incidents.
Graham Rahal’s debut ended in the wall as soon as the race started, and Alex Figge spun to a halt at the chicane during the subsequent safety car period.
Sebastien Bourdais, who started one place off the back of the grid, took the opportunity to dive into the pits and exchange his red-walled ‘option’ tyres for the more durable compound. But he suffered a puncture on lap 24.
Worse luck befell Justin Wilson, who was a victim of the inevitable teething problems of the new Panoz DP01 chassis.
While charging back from the rear of the field Bourdais set fastest lap and then clouted the wall hard, ripping the front wing off and damaging the front left wheel. It was race over for the reigning thrice-champion.
Paul Tracy dropped back after being short fuelled in one of his pit stops and having to return to the pits – but that evened out later on when chief rival Will Power knocked one of his pit crew during his stop.
They weren’t the only drivers having problems in the pits – almost every team struggled to refuel their cars, turning the race order into something of a lottery.
In the end an extra pit stop for Tracy settled the race in Power’s favour, with rookie Robert Doornbos taking an excellent second after a mature drive.
Alex Tagliani, Tristan Gommendy and Katherine Legge rounded off the finishers on the lead lap. Bruno Junqueira was seventh, one lap down after more refuelling problems.
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