The Frenchman got one point for the provisional pole to lead the series.
TORONTO (AP) — After Sebastien Bourdais won the provisional pole for the Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto, the Frenchman was asked if he realizes he always seems to rise to the challenge when he is in conflict with other drivers.
Feigning innocence and grinning, Bourdais replied: “What are you talking about?”
Oriol Servia, the man Bourdais had just edged in first-day qualifying for Sunday’s race, said, “Tell me when he’s not.”
Despite the laughter that ensued, it does seem the three-time defending Champ Car World Series champion has had more than his share of run-ins, on and off the track.
Last week, Bourdais went on a rant that lasted through the mass postrace interview, a series of one-on-one question-and-answer sessions and even to private conversations in his team’s hospitality tent more than an hour after rookie Robert Doornbos held off the Frenchman to win on the road course at Mont-Tremblant.
Doornbos was unrepentant and, in the middle of all the fuss, Bourdais refused to shake the hand of his latest adversary on the victory stand.
Raps blocking tactics
Bourdais was unhappy with what he says are the blocking tactics that the Dutch driver brought with him from European road racing. He said Doornbos, who has twice been penalized for the same offense this season, blocked him not once, but three times during the race.
Officials did not see it that way and the first Champ Car victory by Doornbos moved the 25-year-old Formula One test driver into a tie for the series lead with Bourdais.
Calmed down considerably in the interim, Bourdais went out Friday and did his best to put the anger and frustration behind him, outdueling Servia and moving back into the series lead with the single point for winning the provisional pole.
It was an exciting battle, with the two trading the top spot at least four times in the waning minutes of the session before Bourdais slipped and slid to a final lap of 58.783 seconds (107.480 mph) on the treacherous 1.755-mile street circuit that winds through Exhibition Place and along Lake Shore Boulevard near downtown Toronto.
Servia’s best lap was 58.801 (107.447), followed by 2005 Toronto winner Justin Wilson at 59.099 (106.905) and Doornbos at 59.132 (106.846).
Will Power, 15 points behind Bourdais in third, had a very bad day. His engine quit on the first lap and, after missing most of the session, he wound up last among the 17 cars.