CHAMPCAR/CART: Edmonton: Friday press conference, part 1

Champ Car Friday Qualifying Press Conference Transcript Rexall Grand Prix Edmonton An interview with: SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS SIMON PAGENAUD GRAHAM RAHAL THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's post-qualifying press ...

Champ Car Friday Qualifying Press Conference Transcript Rexall Grand Prix Edmonton

An interview with:
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS
SIMON PAGENAUD
GRAHAM RAHAL

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to today's post-qualifying press conference.

Today's qualifying session was halted five minutes early after Tristan Gommendy required medical attention out in Turn 7. The only way to access that scene was for the ambulance to go out onto the racetrack. We'll have an update on his condition as soon as we can. Preliminary reports are just slight back pain.

We'll get started with the program.

Qualifying third today, making an appearance here in the press conference, is Graham Rahal. Graham, you started third in the Atlantic race last year. What is it about this track specifically that allows you to go fast?

GRAHAM RAHAL: I'm not sure that there's anything specifically about this track. I mean, I've always liked the airport circuits, here and Cleveland. But at the same time, you know, I think after the last two weeks, the whole MEDI|ZONE team has taken time to recover, get caught up on some rest. I think we've come back here refocused for the second half of the season. I think it's showing.

Today was an awfully good day for us. I think it's unfortunate that we couldn't run a second set of tires because I certainly think we could do better on our time, but certainly that's how it works. We're just happy to be third.

THE MODERATOR: You were here for a media day approximately a month ago or so, able to spend a lot of time in the simulators. Did that help you out at all?

GRAHAM RAHAL: No, because the simulator is awfully hard to drive. It was more embarrassing than it was any good (laughter).

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Graham.

Second quickest today, Simon Pagenaud. Simon, you actually got your one and only Champ Car Atlantic win here at Edmonton. Talk about what it is at this track that makes you go so fast.

SIMON PAGENAUD: First of all, it's again a very different track compared to the Atlantic because it goes a lot quicker and we're much more busy with the Champ Car. Just some corner which was flat last year in Atlantic are not. So it's just a little bit more tricky. You just need to be more on your game.

You know, it's just been a very good day for us because this morning it was not that good, we had a couple issues. The whole Aussie Vineyards team has been working really, really well, making my car working for this afternoon.

When we came in practice this afternoon, the car was great. I just said, That's a great car, just do a couple of change, but we're not far away. Put new tires on, it was great. Great, great feeling.

THE MODERATOR: Sebastien Bourdais, our provisional polesitter, earned a front row starting spot, his fifth front row of the season, along with a championship point that now ties him for second place with Simon's teammate Will Power.

Sebastien, you were one of the drivers that actually spun out in Turn 7 earlier today. What is it about that corner that's tricky?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't know. I still have no clue what happened over there. Pushed for the whole season session, the whole morning, then on one lap it just stepped out. One of these things where you kind of, Well, all right, didn't hit anything, collect yourself, go back out there and try harder, but keep it on the right direction.

No, it was a good session for the McDonald's team. It didn't look good at all for most of it. But the last two laps we did on the run, we were fast and consistent and the balance was reasonably good. So, no, I was pretty happy. Obviously, I hope Tristan doesn't suffer a major injury. But for the ones who had put a good lap on the first run, it was pretty good for us that it didn't go back green because obviously it would have been really hard to get a gap, being so far down pit lane because of our pit selection from the bad result we had in Toronto, it would have really hurt us.

I was not too upset that the session didn't go back to green, to be honest.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Sebastien. Now we'll open it up to questions from our media.

Q: Your record this year has been inconsistent with three wins and three races you did not finish. What has been so different, what do you attribute to that?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, obviously, you know, there's one on me from Vegas where I made a mistake, and that's it. There's nothing against there are, I just screwed up. Then in Cleveland, we had a mechanical. Then we made the whole loop around, I guess, of bad circumstances. We got taken out in the last one.

For sure it's not the way our season needs to be going if you want to be a championship contender, but we're still in it pretty much starting from scratch from this weekend. It's a new season again, I guess, on a much shorter period. So we're just going to have to hopefully get cleaner runs and no problems anymore, and that should work out.

But, yeah, for sure, basically we've had as many problems in the first half of the season than we've probably had in the last three seasons. So it's not perfect, but we'll try and make the best of it.

Q: Graham this is your first time in a Champ Car here. Is it a track that suits your driving style?

GRAHAM RAHAL: Yeah, we were here last year in Atlantics. In these cars, as Simon rightly said, they are far different.

I think it definitely suits my style. I like the fast corners. And being that it's pretty physical, it plays into my hands. Being a bigger guy, I think I have the upper edge when it comes to physical strength. So I think when you look at it that way, it's a good weekend for me (laughter).

But, no, I think it seems the airport circuits always work well for me. Cleveland last year, won both races in Atlantic. Then this year unfortunately P.T. hit us. But we came back, had a strong run. And then here finished second last year. I think so far things are heading the right direction.

I don't know if it's just the airports or what it is, but I certainly like it.

Q: What is the difference between a street course and an airport course?

GRAHAM RAHAL: Well, I mean, certainly if you look at the circuit, number one, it's quicker. Number two, as far as how wide open it is, I mean, there's a lot of room here, although less so than, say, Cleveland because Cleveland doesn't have the walls necessarily. I mean, it's got one wall. But other than that there's a lot more room.

I don't know. I think it's similar in the way that it's rough. But I think the speed is the biggest difference. Street courses, it's a lot more 90-degree corners, hairpins, stuff like that. And here, even though, you know, we see that there are a lot of 90-degree corners, they're a heck of a lot faster than we'd normally be used to. In that respect, it's more like a road course that we would go to like Portland or something like that.

I think just about, you know, the only similarity would be the bumps, and that's about it.

Q: Sebastien, can you talk about the new standing starts this year. What do you like about them and what do you dislike about them?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, yeah, it's something we're going to have to discuss because it looks like it's the series favorite to put the polesitter with the worst starting spot because there is, again, a big painted number right in front of the box. So basically you're going to be starting on paint if you pick the inside.

It's a little bit of a shame, but I think we might be able to talk about it with Tony and give up on that spot, just move everybody back. But if we can't do that, maybe the best spot is actually going to be from the left side. But, you know, we're not quite there yet. Hopefully we'll stick around for pole tomorrow. We've got a long ways.

And, you know, as far as standing starts go, I think it's a good thing and a bad thing. Right now it just seems to be very hard to police because all the cars are kind of creeping on the grid. So it's a little difficult to say false start, no false start. And that's a little bit of a problem.

But I think the series is working on trying to find a system to stop the cars from moving at all, and then it's going to become a lot clearer if somebody makes a mistake at the start.

Q: What happened in Cleveland when the pole sitter did not start?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It wasn't Cleveland. It was Tremblant. Tristan had an issue. They didn't connect something on the car so he never started. Then Will and Simon and somebody else stalled the car. I think we escaped a major problem.

But, you know, it's always the risk. Obviously when you have standing starts, it's not bulletproof whether you're going to start or stall. You're taking chances basically. And that's what I was a little afraid of, and I still am obviously because I'm one of the safety representatives for the drivers. I don't want anybody to get hurt because a car stalls from the first row and gets hit by someone who starts at the back of the pack.

It's never black and white. It's always going to be some good and some bad about it. And hopefully it's elevating the show and nobody gets hurt.

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Graham Rahal , Sébastien Bourdais , Will Power , Simon Pagenaud