Sebastien Bourdais returned to Champ Car after his recent F1 test and showed his rivals why he’s tipped to be Grand Prix racing next year.
He dominated the third of the Canadian Triple Crown races, comfortably beating Justin Wilson and seizing the initiative in the championship as rivals Will Power and Robert Doornbos struggled.
Bourdais surged into the lead at the start, easily passing Power around the outside of the first corner. Neel Jani jumped into third from fifth on the grid, but Wilson quickly passed him at turn one on the start of the second lap.
Bourdais looked after his fuel load to begin with, leading Power by 1.8s when a caution period was called on lap 19.
In frantic dash out of the pits Power took over the lead again ahead of Wilson with Bourdais down to third as he was briefly held up by Katherine Legge. But Power couldn’t lose Wilson who was only a few tenths behind when the Australian pitted on lap 49.
Wilson pitted next time around but Bourdais stayed on track for two more laps and, despite being briefly held up by Alex Tagliani, Bourdais easily took over the lead after his stop. Wilson stayed second and Power fell to fourth behind Graham Rahal.
Bourdais now really started lapping quickly, pulling 5.5s ahead of Wilson by lap 61. Seven laps later Power was in the pits for an extended stay as his mechanics tried to repair a fault at the front of the car.
Tagliani made a rash attempt to pass Doornbos on the next lap, broke his front-left suspension and tipped the Dutchman into a spin. Doornbos then stalled, forcing another caution period.
Bourdais kept his lead through the final set of pit stops under caution and the race was restarted for the final time on lap 73 with 22 minutes remaining.
The Frenchman cruised away from Wilson and attacked the fastest lap mark, lowering it to 58.6s, 0.9s quicker than the next best by Wilson. He won comfortably with 3.9s in hand over the Briton, with Rahal third.
Fourth went to Simon Pagenaud ahead of the Forsythe duo of Paul Tracy and Oriol Servia. Bruno Junqueira was seventh for Dale Coyne Racing. Dan Clarke was eighth after a spin, with Jani and Jan Heylen completing the top ten.
Champ Car race again next weekend on the streets of San Jose.