CHAMPCAR/CART: Eurospeedway Laustiz pre-race quotes

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Motorola Honda Reynard), on CART's first-ever trip to Europe: "I think this is going to be really good for the series and I think we have a lot of fans in Europe and the UK so it's great to be able to bring the CART show to them.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Motorola Honda Reynard), on CART's first-ever trip to Europe: "I think this is going to be really good for the series and I think we have a lot of fans in Europe and the UK so it's great to be able to bring the CART show to them. I think Champ Car racing is going to be a real culture shock for these fans. They are going to be able to get close to the race cars and see everything in the paddock up close. They'll also get a chance to meet the drivers and get their autographs and then see some great racing. They can see the whole race track from the grandstands and they'll get to see a lot of passing, which is something they're not used to seeing. I think the whole Champ Car experience will be a very pleasant surprise for our UK and European fans. As far as the track, it's new for everyone so we're all in the same boat. None of the drivers have raced on these tracks so we'll all be getting used to them together. I really don't think it will be overly difficult."

GIL de FERRAN (Honda Reynard), on the excitement in store for German Champ Car fans: "When I first saw a Champ Car run, it was a shocking experience for me so the German fans are in for a major surprise. I've always been keen on the idea of bringing the CART series to Europe since I have a strong European background both in racing and in my personal life. I moved to Europe from Brazil when I started to race professionally, and I've actually raced in Germany [Formula 3000 and Formula Opel], so going there is a bit of a homecoming for me and I'm looking forward to it. I'm very happy that we took over the lead in the championship point standings in Vancouver, but there are six races to go so we need to maintain our focus and continue to put points on the board in the German 500."

HELIO CASTRONEVES (Honda Reynard), on his expectations of the competition at the EuroSpeedway: "The new EuroSpeedway in Germany should be very fast. It's a two-mile tri-oval with plenty of banking and it's very wide so it should make for an exciting race. I think there are a lot of Germans and Europeans who want to see our series and check out our cars and drivers, so we're hoping there will be a good turnout. We're all looking forward to going there and showing the European race fans how competitive CART is and how exciting Champ Car racing is on the ovals."

KENNY BRACK (Shell Ford Lola), on his oval track success during the 2001 season: "We've had a tremendous car on the ovals this year. And, to be honest, the Shell car has been good on the road circuits, too. But we haven't had much luck on the roads. Now, coming back to Europe with the American-style oval racing, I'm anxious to show the racing fans over there about oval racing and I'm confident we'll be very competitive. I think all of the European-born drivers are very exciting to race on the continent again and show how competitive the CART FedEx series is and the excitement of oval racing. We have been strong with the Lola Ford on the ovals. I just hope we can keep going. There is a lot of racing to go this year. We have to keep this oval success going right now. We can't relax at any time. This CART series is just too competitive to let up for a second. If you have a slight slump, the competition will move by you quickly. We want to get back on the podium on the ovals."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard), on his anticipation of competing at EuroSpeedway: "I've always thought about how much fun it would be to race on the autobahn in Germany, and running laps around the EuroSpeedway Lausitz is going to be even better than that! From what I've been told, it's a fantastic facility that is really tailor-made for our Champ Cars. We should be able to put in laps in under 35 seconds. The track is shaped more like a triangle than an oval, but there are quite a few opportunities to pass, so that should make for some thrilling racing for the European fans. It's always exciting to be able to take CART racing to new venues and show what a quality product we have. I'll definitely take a repeat of our last race on a superspeedway, when we won in Michigan a few weeks ago. Team Player's has been really successful lately in getting the car ready for any type of track, and although we're seeing a new one in Germany, I don't think it will take long to get adjusted to it. These next two weekends on oval tracks in Europe could have quite an impact on the drivers' standings."

ALEX TAGLIANI (Player's/Indeck Ford Reynard), on expanding the reach of the FedEx Championship Series: "It's great to have the opportunity to perform for a whole new audience in Europe. My family roots are in Italy, so going over to Europe is something special for me. I know that the fans at the Lausitz Superspeedway are going to be impressed by CART racing because we put in some incredible laps on that type of track. It's been several weeks since we had the opportunity to race on ovals. In fact, the last time was back-to-back races in Michigan and Chicago, and Team Player's had a podium and top-six finish in both events, so we're confident that we can continue that success at the German 500. People have asked me if the bad luck that cost us a win in Vancouver [when Tagliani encountered a mechanical failure after leading the first 68 of 100 laps from the pole] is going to result in an emotional letdown, and the only thing I can say is that I'm not going to let that happen. I've learned a lot from our technical advisor Tony Cicale this season. He's been around motor racing a long time and he always stresses the importance of keeping your mental focus from race to race, regardless of what happens. I know that what happened in Vancouver was beyond our control, and I also realize that we've been consistently in control for the last several races. As long as we continue to do that, wins will come."

MAX PAPIS (Miller Lite Ford Lola), on his enjoyment of oval-track racing: "I never saw an oval track until I came to the United States. Now, I really enjoy the ovals. It's a unique style of racing and driving, racing wheel-to-wheel at over 200 miles per hour. It's exciting. I think that made the win [at Homestead in 2000] very special for me. For a European driver to win on an oval track, it's quite a feat. We think we can return to our winning ways, especially in Europe. The United States has always been a land of immigrants. Look at Mario Andretti, one of the USA's greatest drivers. He was born in Italy. In the United States, there is an opportunity to show your ability. And what counts the most is a man's ability and his personality beyond anything else. Plus the competitiveness of the CART FedEx Series gives talented drivers a chance, unlike in Formula One. I am like many former F-1 drivers who really didn't get a fair chance. So they come to CART and things can happen. Look at Christian [Fittipaldi], Gil [de Ferran], Tony [Kanaan] and others. They got the opportunity and they performed. These races are very important to the European drivers. We want to show how exciting and competitive the CART series is on the ovals. I think Kenny [Brack, teammate] and I will have some strong Ford engines in Europe. Those long straightaways are perfect for the power of the Ford Cosworth."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI (Kmart Toyota Lola), on beginning his racing career in Europe: "When I started in racing, my background led me to Europe because it was the natural progression at the time to get to Formula One. I won the Brazilian Formula 3 Championship then went to on to win the South American Formula 3 Championship and then I went to Europe to compete in the Formula 3000 series, where I won the championship. After that, the natural progression was to compete in Formula One. I drove for Minardi for two years and then I was at Arrows for one season. In Formula One, there are the 'haves' and the 'have nots.' If you want to do well, you have to drive for the 'haves'. I had a very good option to come to race in CART, where there was even competition, and I decided to take it. Then, obviously, my life changed radically once I started racing here. It is very, very fun but it is a lot different from racing in Europe. I think the new experience we will bring to European fans is that we will race on a completely different kind of track. The two ovals in Europe are even different from the rest of the ovals we race on now. I think it will be exciting and I think we will put on a great show - something people over there have never seen before. I think the German fans have been able to get close the drivers during Touring Car races but I wouldn't say that about the Formula One races. It's completely different. The paddock is very tight and closed. I did a press tour in Germany a few months back and am one of the few that has seen the track. The facility is great. Of all the tracks we go to, this will be one of the best venues -- if not one of the best tracks in the world for any series. I think the track will be pretty unique to our series. It has long straights and pretty quick turns but not as quick as Turns 1 and 2 in Motegi. The turns are flat out in Motegi. The track reminds me of Turns 3 and 4 in Japan but it happens three times. You can prepare for a new race with a lot of computer simulation. Basically the computer prepares us more than we prepare the computer. Hopefully by the time we get there, our work will be cut in half. "

CRISTIANO da MATTA (Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota Lola), on his racing experience in Europe: "When I was young, I had the dream to race in Formula One. It was bigger in Brazil at the time and I chose to go there after two years of racing in Brazil. I decided to try my luck in Europe and raced British Formula 3 one year and Formula 3000 the other. But I saw things weren't as nice on the sports side, especially in F1, as I imagined. When I got close I saw a lot of things that I wasn't as happy about and decided to come to America, where the sport side is in first place. I saw that everybody was in a lot more equal cars. The teams were on a more level playing field and there wasn't a huge difference in budget like you have in F1 so it is a lot more fair and everybody has more of a chance of doing well. It's not like you're competing against some guy that has 30 times your budget and you are trying to run in front of him. I think the way the rules are in CART is a lot smarter. It's going to be nice to go back for the first time in five years and meet old friends and see how it has changed. The first time I watched an oval race, I was really, really impressed with the speed. I went to the 1996 race in Homestead when I was still racing in F3000. The first time I saw the cars going through Turn 1, I was shocked and I was used to watching F1 races and everything. I hope the European fans get that same kind of feeling, that shock, when they see it for the first time, because it's something else. It's going to be very different for the fans to be able to get up close to us. When I was racing in Formula 3000, I wasn't even allowed in the F1 paddock so imagine how it was for the fans. They could only see the drivers when they were in the cars or maybe on the podium. They don't get to see the drivers up close, talk to them or even ask them for an autograph. That's not even in their dreams. The way the CART paddock is open will be a good opportunity for the fans. I don't know how they are going to accept it, though. I think they'll find it strange. I think CART has a very big fan base in Germany because I receive a lot of letters from there asking for an autograph or photos. I drove three races in Germany. I raced at Hockenheim twice and Nurburgring once when I was in F3000. I have good memories from both places but not from the races. The races didn't go so well but I have good memories of being in Germany. I heard that Lausitzring is an amazing facility. Everyone has been comparing it to Motegi, which is also an amazing facility. People have said that Lausitzring is even more impressive. It's a two-mile track with three turns, which is very different from the other two-mile ovals we race on. It's going to be very different to set-up the car. I heard we are going to be lifting and maybe even braking going through the turns, whereas the other two-mile tracks we race at are flat out all the way around, so I think the track in Germany will be more technical for the driver. I'm looking forward to driving there."

TONY KANAAN (Hollywood Honda Reynard), on the novelty of racing Champ Cars in Europe: "This will be our first time in Europe for this particular group of teams and drivers, so what I can say for sure is that anything can happen. I can't even say for sure what the tracks look like. That means everybody will have a chance to do well. Nobody's done any significant testing there, so it's going to anybody's race. It's really nice to go to Europe. The last time I was in Europe was in '98. The last time I raced there was in '95 [in Formula 3]. I'll have a chance to see a lot of my friends from those days. I'm really excited, to be honest. I'm pumped. Especially after our fourth-place finish in Vancouver. That helped me out a lot as far as the championship. It's getting to the point in the season where everybody's getting tired. But I'm getting excited for the stretch run. I'm going to do everything I can to keep everyone on our team motivated and keep the morale up. It shouldn't be hard in Europe, as a lot of the guys will be coming home for the first time in a long, long time."


1ALEX ZANARDI (Pioneer Honda Reynard), on racing on his 'home' continent: "Hey, for the first time since I've been in CART, I don't have to leave my homeland to take a transoceanic flight to a race. The series is coming to my own backyard. Well, considering my backyard is in Italy and Monaco, Germany and England will be close enough. I think the fans here are in for a real treat. Oval racing is something most of them will have a chance to see for the first time in person. I hope a lot of them come out, because TV really doesn't do justice to the excitement you see in an oval race. Cars running one after the other down the straightaways and diving into the corners at speed ... all the excitement of the pit stops and the restarts. It 's something that will just blow people away.

"I know I remember the first time I saw a Champ Car go around an oval track back in 1996. I was testing with Adrian Fernandez at Michigan and I went up into the grandstands for a little while to take a break while Adrian was running. Man, I couldn't believe how fast that car was getting around the circuit. I thought to myself, 'This is absolutely crazy!' And just a few minutes earlier, I was out there doing the same thing. Well, multiply that feeling by 26 cars on the track at the same time and that's what the people of Germany and England are in for. I can't wait to show them what we can do."

ROBERTO MORENO (Visteon Toyota Reynard), on the improvement of the Visteon Patrick Racing team in recent months: "Starting from Detroit, the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing team has performed very well. We have been handicapped a little by being in the 'slow' qualifying group, but now that we are in the fast group and have some momentum I think we can remain very competitive for the rest of the season. I think we have a opportunity to win some more races and move up in the points. European fans are going to see the most competitive racing series in the world. The FedEx Championship Series has yellow flags and restarts so that will be different for the fans. It makes the racing more competitive and exciting. There is nothing at the same level in Europe. Also, CART drivers are very accessible to the fans in ways that are unusual in Europe. The fans can interact with the drivers, which they cannot do in most of the other racing series in Europe. Plus, European fans have never really experienced oval racing. It is a very exciting form of racing and unlike the road circuits they are used to, you can see the whole race from a seat in the stands."

JIMMY VASSER (Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard), on the spectacle the FedEx Championship Series will bring to Europe: "I think the fans in Germany and England are going to see a great show. The FedEx Championship Series oval racing is a completely different kind of racing than they are used to and I think they will find it very exciting and really enjoy it. I think the Visteon/Patrick Racing team has a big undertaking ahead running three cars at Germany and England, but we are definitely up to the challenge. Mr.[Pat] Patrick [team owner] and Jim McGee would not have committed to running three cars if they were not sure that we could do it right and have all three cars be competitive. I am looking forward to racing in Germany and England, putting on a good show and hopefully winning a race or two. Roberto's [Moreno, teammate] victory last weekend has really energized the whole Visteon/Patrick Racing team. There hasn't been a race that we have run this year that I didn't think we could win and hopefully my time will come in Germany and England."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda Reynard), on his past experiences in Germany: "I don't know much about the track, but I have heard it is a fantastic facility and it will be great to be in Germany. I've been to Germany before, in places like Hockenheim, when I was racing in Europe. When I was living in Holland, I went to Germany quite a bit. I've been to Berlin, Frankfurt, Munich - several places. I have quite a few friends there who will be coming to visit over the race weekend. These are friends who helped me when I was in Europe and basically had nothing. They helped me by giving me work and basically to survive in those days. In terms of the track, I hope we can give a good show for the German fans. It's a great opportunity to show what CART is all about."

SCOTT DIXON (Nextel Powerware Panasonic PacWest Toyota), on the German motorsports tradition: "Going to Europe to race, specifically Germany, will be a great thrill considering the history that the country has in auto racing. The German fans are some of the most enthusiastic fans in the world, and to race in front of them will be awesome. I have always had dreams of racing in Formula 1, so hopefully, I can put on a good show. Right now in the season we are sixth in the championship and leading the Rookie of the Year battle, so the European races will be very important from the standpoint of the overall championship. We need to definitely finish strong so that we can make a run at the title when we return to the States. Winning the Rookie of the Year would be a great accomplishment, but winning the championship is my ultimate goal."

MAURICIO GUGELMIN (Nextel PacWest Toyota), on competing in Europe for the first tine in nine years: "I'm really excited to get back to racing in Europe. Racing in Formula 1 from 1988 to 1992 was a great experience in my life. I know the German fans are really enthusiastic about their racing and I think that CART should be applauded for bring our formula of open wheel racing to this country. Oval tracks in Europe should be a great success and I know the fans will love our brand of racing. We will go wheel to wheel through the corners, which is something that this country doesn't see a lot of so the excitement level will be very high. CART is taking the right steps to make our series more visible in Europe and this will be a great experience for a lot of our drivers and teams. I can't wait to get there."


1SHINJI NAKANO (Avex/Alpine Honda Reynard), looking forward to his return to Germany: "It's been three years since I have been in Germany, at Hockenheim and Nurburging in Formula One. I am glad to being going back to Europe. I really enjoyed my time there. Germany is a beautiful country, and I am looking forward to racing at the new circuit. As far as the track goes, it's the first time there for everybody but oval tracks require the same things - you need to have a really good race car. You need a car that is well-balanced and handles well in the draft. The car can be very nervous so you have to find the setup to have a good car through the corners."


1ORIOL SERVIA (Sigma Autosport Ford Lola), on continuing his recent success in the FedEx Championship Series: "It's going to be quite a thrill for the fans and for the drivers to race in Europe. I know I will be quite happy and I think we will all put on a great show for them. I'm especially happy going into Europe knowing that we are on a roll of sorts with three straight top ten finishes, including fifth at Vancouver. That was a very hard race, but for Germany, all of us will be going there to compete for the first time, so it should be a pretty competitive effort during practice, qualifying and the race."

TORA TAKAGI (Pioneer/DENSO Special Toyota Reynard), on the challenges of racing at new tracks in Germany and England: "It is nice to be going back in Europe as I spent almost three years there including testing duty for Tyrrell in '97. I know most of racetracks in Europe but EuroSpeedway and Rockingham are totally new for me. I am especially looking forward to going back to London before the race at Rockingham and doing some sightseeing, as I lived there for two years. We have been in good shape on ovals this year thanks to efforts of our engineers, we will be in the same boat as everyone else since both of them are brand-new racetracks, and nobody will have an advantage right from the start."

MAX WILSON (winner B2B/Arciero-Blair Racing Ford Lola), on returning to two countries he once called "home": "It's nice to return to Europe because I have lived and raced in both Germany and England. After leaving Brazil, I was first in Germany for one year and then in England for four years. The European tracks will be different from the tracks that we are currently racing on. They will be new for everyone; we [the drivers] will all be learning the new venues together. Going to Lola and Ford will be good because we will see everyone who builds our chassis and engines; we will also be able to see the improvements they are making and their plans for the future. Working out and exercising will still remain important on this long trip so I stay physically and mentally ready to race. The last few races for our team have not gone our way. The series is so competitive this year; the times, speeds and the competition are close and tough. We are also still a new team and I think new teams struggle in the beginning. However, I am looking forward to the races in Europe and the four remaining races after that."

TOWNSEND BELL (Visteon Patrick Racing Toyota Reynard), on making his Champ Car debut at EuroSpeedway: "Needless to say, I am ecstatic about running my first race in the FedEx Championship Series. It is something I have been working towards for several years. I want to thank Mr. [Pat] Patrick for this tremendous opportunity. I would also like to thank all of my sponsors and supporters who have stuck with me over the years. In particular, I would like to thank Dorricott Racing [Bell's Indy Lights team] for providing me with the means to show my abilities. The Visteon/Patrick Racing team clearly has put great cars on the track this year and I am confident I will have the tools I need to do the job. I am cautiously optimistic about showing well in my first race."


1MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (Herdez Ford Lola), on the equalized competition at EuroSpeedway: "The EuroSpeedway track is brand new for everyone so I really don't know much about it yet other than it's a tri-oval. In a way, I think it is good for a single-car team like ours because a new track puts everyone on an even playing field. This is a very important race for everyone; drivers, teams, CART. I really hope that we can put on a really great race for the fans. I think they will see very different motor racing than they are used to and hopefully they will like it a lot! I have been racing since I was twelve years old so I haven't had a lot of chances to travel other than on the CART circuit. I had hoped to be able to spend some more time traveling and visiting in Europe but we won't really have time this trip. But mostly I'm excited about the new track and bringing our style of oval racing to the fans in Europe!"

-CART-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Mario Andretti