In a race where a first-corner accident eliminated several contenders, Sebastien Bourdais romped to the win in the 2006 Champ Car season opener at Long Beach.
Bourdais’ path to victory was made easier when Mario Dominguez set off a chain reaction of contact at Turn 1 that took out AJ Allmendinger, Oriol Servia, Paul Tracy and Bruno Junqueira. Allmendinger returns to the streets for the first time since this weekend.
The win for Bourdais was his second of three in a row at Long Beach (2005, 2007), and also started a run of four straight victories to open the season for the Newman/Haas Racing. Allmendinger nearly matched him later in the year when he won three straight races for his new team boss Gerry Forsythe.
The bespectacled Frenchman beat Justin Wilson and Alex Tagliani to the flag. Wilson drove for the RuSPORT team, Tagliani for Derrick Walker.
Besides Bourdais, Wilson, Tagliani, Allmendinger and Servia, the only other driver from 2006 who will be in this year’s race is Will Power. Power’s Long Beach debut was his first race start in the United States, after doing two international races for Derrick Walker’s team at the tail end of 2005. Power started and finished ninth.
Katherine Legge also made her publicized debut in the 2006 race in Long Beach. Legge, who was Bourdais’ teammate last year and the victim of a last-minute driver change ahead of this year at Dragon Racing, advanced from 17th to eighth place in her first start. She won in Long Beach in the Formula Atlantic race there in 2005.
Legge’s promotion to Champ Car came at a time when the then rival Indy Racing League – now IndyCar – was riding the waves of media attention thanks to Danica Patrick’s arrival a year earlier.