SAN JOSE, Calif. - Sebastien Bourdais has the new and very difficult street circuit at the San Jose Grand Prix all figured out.
The reigning Champ Car World Series champion earned his third pole of the season and the 16th of his career Saturday with a lap averaging 96.101 mph on the temporary course in downtown San Jose.
That was just good enough to edge teammate Oriol Servia's 95.991 and give the Newman/Haas Racing team a 1-2 start today.
"The team is working very hard and we are benefiting from that," Bourdais said. "And there's no better place to start than the pole position, so I guess I should be the guy to feel best about that."
The new street circuit winding around San Jose's convention center got a bit of a makeover Friday night. After the first day of racing on the tight, bumpy 1.448-mile, 11-turn circuit, track officials talked with the drivers and decided a few changes were in order.
Overnight, they added a chicane - curbs to force the cars to slow down - on the short straightaway leading to the slowest turn on the course - a right-handed hairpin where the cars slow to 30 mph. With very little runoff area in case of a problem, the Champ Cars were hitting 175 mph on that straight before addition.
They also widened out turn four - a tight left-hander - by raising the concrete barriers lining the turn onto the curbing.
In an effort to smooth out one of the bumpiest tracks the Champ Cars have ever raced on track workers also made numerous patches with quick-drying cement. That did help some, but Paul Tracy, who was third fastest on Saturday said, "It's like being in a paint shaker out there."
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