Long Beach flashback: Bourdais begins run of four straight in 2006

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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.

Lewis Hamilton aims to match Michael Schumacher’s F1 win record

Lewis Hamilton Schumacher record
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SOCHI, Russia — Lewis Hamilton has set many Formula One marks over the years, but few are as significant as the Michael Schumacher record he can match Sunday at the Russian Grand Prix.

Victory for Hamilton at the Sochi Olympic Park would see him draw level with Schumacher at 91 career victories, more than any other driver in the 70-year history of F1.

It also would increase Hamilton’s commanding 55-point lead over teammate Valtteri Bottas in the championship standings, putting him closer to a seventh world championship, matching another Schumacher record.

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History is on the side of Hamilton, who won Sept. 13 at Mugello. He’s won four of the six Russian races so far, and all six were won by Mercedes drivers. His closest challenger is likely to be Bottas, who beat Hamilton in the 2017 edition of the Russian Grand Prix.

Elsewhere in the championship hunt, Red Bull driver Max Verstappen’s season has gone up in smoke since his Aug. 9 victory at Silverstone. An overheating engine forced the Dutch driver out of the Sept. 6 race at Monza and then a similar problem struck just before the start at Mugello. Verstappen was far slower off the line than the cars around him and was struck by Kimi Raikkonen’s Alfa Romeo.

That leaves Verstappen 80 points off Hamilton in the standings and a 25-point deficit to Bottas.

If Hamilton does win to tie Schumachher at Sochi, more fans will see it in person than any other race in a 2020 season mostly run before empty grandstands because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Organizers say the race weekend is sold out but haven’t given final ticket sales figures.

Race promoter Alexei Titov previously told Russian state TV that the stands would be at 50 percent of their capacity, which equates to around 30,000 spectators.

That’s far more than the previous season high of 3,000 fans for the most recent race, the Tuscan Grand Prix at the Mugello circuit.

Unlike at the last two races in Italy, there will be a full entertainment program on offer for fans with concerts featuring some of Russia’s most popular musicians.

Russian organizers say they’re taking precautions to keep fans safe and will have medical staff posted at checkpoints around the venue, and that spectators will have their temperature measured on entry.