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2007 Belgian Champ Car Grand Prix

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.

Belgium 2007 Belgian Champ Car Grand Prix
Race details
Race 11 of 14 in the 2007 Champ Car season
Zolder.svg
Zolder Track Layout
DateAugust 26, 2007
Official nameBelgian Champ Car Grand Prix
LocationCircuit Zolder, Heusden-Zolder, Belgium
CoursePermanent Road Course
2.492 mi / 4.010 km
Distance71 laps
176.932 mi / 284.744 km
WeatherCloudy
Pole position
DriverSébastien Bourdais (N/H/L Racing)
Time1:12.821
Fastest lap
DriverSébastien Bourdais (N/H/L Racing)
Time1:14.089 (on lap 39 of 71)
Podium
FirstSébastien Bourdais (N/H/L Racing)
SecondBruno Junqueira (Dale Coyne Racing)
ThirdGraham Rahal (N/H/L Racing)

BackgroundEdit

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 resultsEdit

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

RaceEdit

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

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

NotesEdit

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]

Championship standings after the raceEdit