Bourdais wings it

Dean McNulty, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

MONTREAL -- Sebastien Bourdais cemented his reputation as the Flying Frenchman yesterday, claiming his seventh Champ Car World Series pole of 2006 at the Grand Prix of Montreal.

The native of Le Mans, France, made it look relatively easily, besting his nearest competitor by .356 of a second.

The fact that Bourdais had to come back from a morning crash in his No. 1 Newman-Haas Racing Lola made his one minute, 20.005-second lap around Circuit Gilles Villeneuve's 4.33-kilometre road course even more remarkable.

But the task for the 27-year-old Bourdais today is to translate his pole into a win -- something he has been unable to do in the past three races on this track.

"We have had three really bad races here," Bourdais said. "I can only hope for something better (today)."

Rain is being forecast for today in Montreal, a fact that would be a huge advantage for Bourdais because of the spray generated from the Champ Car rain tires.

"It feels a lot better to be on the pole if it rains," he said. "At least I will be able to see. Those behind me will likely only see a wall of water."

A.J. Allmendinger -- who trails Bourdais by only 32 points (275-243) in the championship -- will start on the outside pole today after a lap of 1:20.361 in his No. 7 Forsythe Championship Racing Lola.

Justin Wilson, three points behind Allmendinger, filled out the qualifying podium in the No. 9 RuSport Racing Lola at 1:20.587.

Toronto's Paul Tracy, once again the object of fan derision yesterday, will start fourth today after he brought his Forsythe Lola home in 1:20.669.

Tracy arrived at the track wearing a Montreal insignia on his hat and a pair of antennae adorned with the fleur de lis, the provincial symbol of Quebec.

"I'm just having some fun with the fans," Tracy said, tongue in cheek. "I think they must like me because they make a lot of noise when they see me."

The fan reaction was a result of two run-ins with francophone drivers Bourdais and Alex Tagliani, in which he mocked them for not taking off their helmets when they challenged him to fight.

Yesterday, Bourdais further fanned the flames when he hinted that he hoped today's race would be "incident-free."

The comment came after Allmendinger -- Tracy's teammate -- reminded Bourdais the he had started second at the Denver Grand Prix behind Bourdais and ended up winning the race.

"Are you going to have your teammate take me out again this race?" Bourdais asked Allmendinger, referring to his wreck in the final turn of the Denver race with Tracy that led to the shoving match between the two.

"By that time, I was so far in front I couldn't see who was in second," Allmendinger shot back.

Champ Car officials said they will be paying added attention to both Tracy and Bourdais in today's race in hopes of keeping emotions under control.

Andrew Ranger of Roxton Pond, Que., will start ninth today on a lap of 1:21.561 in his No. 27 MiJack Conquest Lola.

Tagliani will start 12th after a sluggish qualifying time of 1:21:916 in the No. 15 Team Australia Lola.


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