CHAMPCAR/CART: 2006 champion Bourdais teleconference

CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH 2006 SERIES CHAMPION SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS October 25, 2006 THE MODERATOR: Sebastien, you have had a great year so far and with one race to go can you take us through your championship ...

CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES TELECONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH 2006 SERIES CHAMPION SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS
October 25, 2006

THE MODERATOR: Sebastien, you have had a great year so far and with one race to go can you take us through your championship season?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It was a crazy schedule, we nearly and hopefully we will win nearly half of them and it's just an incredible start with four in a row, and then after that, you know, you always have the -- I should say probably the usual ups and downs of the season in Toronto when the caution doesn't fall at the right time, or not qualifying at all or things like that, which are very, very small details and it affects the whole difference at the end of the weekend.

So it's been like that for three seasons, we've always had fast moments and moments where the car was just as quick, but we couldn't materialize and finish the job. That's the nature of racing. And in the meantime, it was a moment where A.J. was coming strong with the new car at Forsythe, and you know, it's been a very exciting season and I'm just glad we'll be able to go to Mexico City without any kind of pressure and just try and finish on a great race.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Sebastien, and now we'll open this up to questions from the media.

Q: Its been written before that your skills are somewhat underappreciated because among other things, you don't have the ability to race against other major open-wheel drivers. How do you feel about that? Do you wish that nothing else, that the IRL and Champ Car could merge so at least you could see how you do against other drivers in open-wheel racing in this country?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, yeah, I think it's no secret that a lot of drivers in open-wheel in America want to have a very strong series. I think right now, the only way would be very, very challenging for NASCAR, at least on the media side, it would be, to have only one. But the truth is, you know, it's really all over in sports right now and I can't really have any influence on it. For sure, I'd like a unified series, I think I've said that many times.

But in the meantime right now, we've got to work on our side and make sure that we give the best to the Champ Car World Series and then do the same with the IRL. So hopefully one day we'll be one again, but you know, it's not because we don't hear about it that they are not talking about it. We've got to trust them and hope that all of these negotiations are going to finally come to some kind of an agreement.

Q: Just on a personal note, how are Claire and the baby?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Everything is going well so far and fingers crossed, nothing bad happened and hopefully it will be this way until the day of the delivery.

Q: Are you talking to anyone in Formula 1, most notably of course, Renault, or is your ambition a fourth championship in Champ Car?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think there's two questions in there. Am I still interested in Formula 1? Yes, of course. My goals and targets have always been the same since I started racing a long time ago, to try to be successful in Formula 1. Now, I think I've got to be a little realistic about it. We've had a lot of talks over the summer. From what I can get from all of the good teams, the ones that don't ask for some money, whereas it's no guarantee for the future, that is something that I can't accept. Because I can't give up what I've got without any kind of guarantees and throw everything away which is something that took me quite some time to get to. I don't underestimate what I've got here in the U.S. and especially in Champ Car.

So in many ways, I had a two-year contract with Newman/Haas, so 2007 is going to be here and I'll definitely be back and my goal will be to try to make it four.

Q: And if you were to move on it would certainly be our loss. For next year, new car, new teams coming in, it seems to me that new excitement is being generated. Is there a real challenge in you guys starting with a whole new car, or can an awful lot of what you've already done be transferred over?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I think we start pretty much from scratch. That's also why experienced drivers are important for teams because if the driver knows what a good car feels like at a track that is on the schedule, and that he knows, it makes it quite a bit easier for the team and for the combination to bring the car there. And I just think the new car is going to be way different on the centre of pressure variations and the downforce level and quite a few things. It's definitely a very exciting challenge because you know, there are a lot of things to learn on this new car and I've always enjoyed discovering a new car and setting it up. I'm definitely very much looking forward to that 2007 season.

Q: I just wanted to find out your reaction to A.J. going to NASCAR. I mean, you lose your chief competitor, and also, I know you've talked in the past about being interested in NASCAR. Did that at all heighten your interest in NASCAR.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, there are two questions again. (Laughing) I think the fact that A.J. is going to NASCAR is a little bit of a surprise but just a little bit. I think when RuSPORT and himself parted ways, he's been shopping around to see where his future was going to be. I've been aware of what was going to happen to him with Forsythe, that might not have happened. But the truth is, he's young, he's American, and also very important and interesting for NASCAR, and definitely, you know, helping a great deal with long-term perspectives. I think it was hard for him to decide where he wanted to go.

In the meantime, you know, it's a very personal choice. I think he's not building a family yet or anything, and it's the right time to do the move if he had to do it. So for sure, it's too bad for us. I think he was a great participant and member of the Champ Car community, and as a driver and as an opponent for sure we'll miss him next year because he was one who definitely gave us a run for our money and it was an exciting year with him. So, what can I say, it's just the way things go.

On my side, I tried to see with Mark Martin if I could get a test in Busch or in something, and he was like, I think nothing really came out of it. So I didn't really pursue it. I think I'm very happy to be where I am right now. Given the opportunity, I would probably test the car and see what it's like. For me the only one big downside of the whole situation, the schedule I think for a European background guy, it's just very hard to project yourself in 36, 37, 38 races a year, plus, plus, plus. I think a lot of people, you don't race NASCAR, you live NASCAR, am I ready for that, I have no idea. Right now I know what I've got and I love it. This has been fulfilling a lot of my dreams and right now I'm just going to have fun focusing on it.

Q: Congratulations. Good job on pulling it off again. You're a great sports car racer and you've done the IROC in the past. Just any plans for next year to do any additional sports car racing or any conversations about possibly doing the IROC again next year?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yes, a lot of things in the air right now. For sure, the 24 hour being an open weekend for us next year, that's a very fair chance I'll be there. I don't know, you know, in which conditions and with what team. But definitely something I'm very much looking forward to it.

On the IROC side, it's very much about the schedule, and I don't know what they are going to announce and what it's going to be like. I'm sure it will be a great time with everybody in IROC, and it's a possibility for sure, I'd love to do it.

Q: Congratulations, very, very well noted accomplishment to you. Let me ask you, somebody mentioned the new car, the new Panoz DP 01 for next year, when do you get your first crack to drive the car around the racetrack, I know you have an itch to try this new thing.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: We have three open tests organized by Champ Car. The first one of which is going to take place the week of the 24 hours of Daytona in Sebring, late January. And that's going to be the first time we are allowed to step in. So it's going to be quite a while but at the same time it gives time for the team to get everything prepped up and we'll be ready to start a whole new adventure.

Q: I know you're probably not privy to the conversations that go on, on the other sides in terms of the possibility of a new teammate at Rahal, I don't know where Bruno fits in, but care to comment on the possibility of another Rahal coming in and the possibility that he may be your teammate next year?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You know, what can I say? I don't really know where they are at on the negotiations and everything. All I can say is for sure, he did a good job in Atlantics, even if Simon beat him, he's a very good driver and it would be good to have him on the team and it would be good for the series for sure.

Then, you know, for sure it would be better to have a three-car team than a two-car team, which means I don't really know what is going to happen; is that happen going to be there, with who and which car.

But I think it's very much related to what kind of sponsor package Newman/Haas can put together and we have Ralph Hansen, a great guy in charge of that and he who looks out for everybody.

Q: With A.J. heading to NASCAR and he's not the first driver to try out some other series and whatnot, do you think the depth of the field in Champ Car is weakening and do you think that's going to be a problem in '07?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I think it's too bad to lose A.J., don't get me wrong. But I think a lot of pretty talented drivers are going to be arriving, too. It's only a matter of trying to have a product where everybody is satisfied, but nobody is tempted to go to anywhere else. Hopefully we will go in that direction. The new car and the new interest from teams and drivers are going to show. It might take a little bit of time, but I'm pretty confident for the future.

Q: Just wanted a clarification, you said you're on a three-year deal, and if next year is the second year; is that correct?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, that was a two-year deal.

Q: So next year is the final year on your current contract?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yes. There is nothing for '08, only an option towards that. It's a 24-month deal.

Q: My question is if you were a multi-champion in the Champ Car World Series, to look for some other challenges like NEXTEL Cup or F-1.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, no, I think I explained that already. It's just for me, you know, I haven't been given the opportunity to do something else. And especially in the F-1 front, I think I made it very clear that it was my target since quite a while already. I just couldn't make it happen. So right now I'm very happy to be where I am in Champ Car, and you know, if it's not F-1, then it could be something else for sure. But the truth is, in Cup, you know it's just a completely different world. And after my IROC experience, nobody really showed much interest at all. I was a little surprised but at the same time I didn't Chase it down all the way. I like very much what I do and I'm very pleased with the whole program. I thought that where is where I belong, so I'm just happy. There is a great challenge laying in front of us, and I think we'll hopefully enjoy it a lot.

Q: Talking about other venues, given the Champ Car schedule the way it lays out, will you have time or interest in pursuing other venues such as sports cars, lot just LeMans, but the 24 Hour, maybe other more frequent rides with maybe some of the longer sports car races.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, no, because the truth is you know if you are referring to LeMans or something like that, I could potentially appear like I've done in the last few years and especially this year in Sebring or things like that. This year, Sebring and LeMans, would be pretty much the ones that are doable. And after that, it becomes pretty hard for me to do something. My priority is to try to win the Champ Car World Series and I can't go there and there, you know, and kind of keep getting distracted. It not really realistic.

Q: After a few years of trying, you finally won at Milwaukee and then they take it off the schedule. What do you think about missing the oval here?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's a little bit of a tough one I guess. I'm very happy that I've been finally winning. It's just a little sad to see no ovals on the schedule next year. I think we're a firm believer of the diversity of the series and I also understand the financial aspect of it. If we can't make it work financially, then it's probably not wise to go there. But I think it's a little sad to see that there is not going to be an oval next year. I wish we could make it stick but right now this is not -- it doesn't sound wise apparently and we've got to understand the financial aspect of it.

Q: On the positive side, there's talk about racing in Europe this next season. That must be pretty exciting.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I think more than ever, Champ Car World Series can justify its status getting a world-class championship and we are going to visit quite a few countries. Hopefully the series will be able to announce very exciting venues and Europe and I'm very much looking forward to that as you can imagine. But also we'll go to China and to some more countries in the future. That's a very positive thing for us.

-credit: ccws

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Mark Martin