Sebastian Bourdais finished his season in exemplary style as he won the final ChampCar World Series race of 2006 with a brilliant last-gasp win in Mexico City.
Bourdais, who wrapped up his third straight title in Australia two weeks ago, had started on the front-row of the grid, alongside Britain’s Justin Wilson, but barged past his rival in spectacular style on the final lap of the race to claim his seventh win of the year and the 23rd of his career.
The 27-year-old Frenchman, who drives for Newman/Haas Racing, said: “"It was just an incredible race, a great battle with Justin the whole time. We both drove the wheels off these cars.
“I just kept pushing, pushing, pushing and then got by him. It was a good win and I'm really glad to have won for myself and for the whole Newman/Haas team.”
Wilson, who was driving with his right wrist in a brace after breaking a bone in practice in Australia, led away from the start and then held his advantage when heavy rain fell at half-distance.
The RuSPORT driver's lead was almost 30 seconds when he made a late-race splash-and-dash, allowing Bourdais to close onto his tail with six laps to go.
Running on brand-new Bridgestone wet tyres, Wilson was no match for the champion, whose rubber was well worn and giving more grip on the drying track surface, and his pursuer made the difference count mid-way round the last lap.
Coming up to turn six, Bourdais shoved his Lola down the inside of Wilson, clattering the kerbs and getting into a lurid slide, but making it past as the Brit decided digression was the better part of valour, and going on to win by 3.528 seconds.
“The last three laps were really tense”, Wilson said. “I was sliding around a lot and I could see that Sebastien was catching me.
“I was able to keep a gap on the straight, but the car was taking longer to slow under braking and I couldn't get the power down so well either. In the end I slid wide into Turn 4, Sebastien got a run out of Turn 5 and you saw the rest."
Will Power finished third and claimed the rookie of the year title with his first podium finish for Team Australia, while Bourdais' Brazilian team-mate Bruno Junqueira picked up fourth after Australian driver Power had passed him while the track was at its wettest.
Team Australia's Canadian driver Alex Tagliani was fifth while Oriol Servia was fifth for PKV Racing, which was some consolation for the team after their other driver Katherine Legge was eliminated by Mario Dominguez in a startline accident.
Surfers Paradise winner Nelson Philippe and Andrew Ranger were seventh and eighth for CTE-HVM and Conquest, while debutants David Martinez and Buddy Rice completed the top ten on their debuts for Forsythe Racing.