He looked like the new hotshot on the block. And, he came out of nowhere.
Robert Doornbos didn't enter the ChampCar World Series with the hype that once surrounded Juan Pablo Montoya back in the day, but he made big noise early on in 2007.
Holy cow! Someone to challenge the utter dominance of Sebastien Bourdais?
He came to Edmonton that year as the series leader. But he wasn't here last year as the Edmonton Grand Prix became the Edmonton Indy.
He did catch the attention of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, though, as they looked for a successor to the departing Bourdais, who again went on to win in Edmonton and to win the series' final title.
"If ChampCar had've continued, I propably would have raced with Newman/Haas. They were very happy with what I did in that year," the Dutchman said yesterday.
"I think I was the only driver to have the championship lead from Bourdais in four years. They probably thought 'OK, this kid with the unkown team, we probably have to have him.' "
NHLR decided to go with the big Brit Justin Wilson as they entered IndyCar. Doornbos was going to stay with Minardi, the former F-1 team that was a first-year ChampCar entry, but last-minute financial circumstances prevented them from competing.
"So, you're like, 'What did I do? I showed I can win races, fight for the championship, and now I'm without a seat.'
"It was a hard bullet to bite and you just have to get on with it, and now I'm back here. You never know how the world changes."
Doornbos went back to Europe, continued as a test driver for Red Bull's F-1 program, raced in A-1 Grand Prix and Super League. But NHLR hadn't forgotten him.
"I'm not happy with how the season is going, but I'm hoping to change my luck here in Edmonton and get a podium," he said.