Continued from part 1 Q: Michael and Charles, tell me about your transition to Champ Car, difference in the car, and how -- what you think you have learned from the lower series that has helped you so far? MICHAEL McDOWELL: I think Star...
Continued from part 1
Q: Michael and Charles, tell me about your transition to Champ Car, difference in the car, and how -- what you think you have learned from the lower series that has helped you so far?
MICHAEL McDOWELL: I think Star Mazda is an underrated platform that's just gives the opportunity to drivers like myself the -- really gaining experience and to learn how to put the car on the edge and go fast and the Mazda Series is super strong the last two years; new car is great. The technology is there. The racetrack is there and there's 35-plus cars in every race now. I think the Mazda Series does a really good job of preparing you for the next step. Right now I'd say that's the place to be if you want to try to get into Champ Car.
CHARLES ZWOLSMAN: I have heard that from the people going up from Atlantic to Champ Car that basically the cornering speeds are pretty much the same so that will be useful also. Also I've learned this year the tracks which I hope to race on next year in Champ Car so that's also useful.
Q: Charles, you obviously haven't sat in the car yet. Have you talked to any engineers yet about what to expect or some keys you have to focus on?
CHARLES ZWOLSMAN: We definitely have talked about a lot of things, but basically, until you get into the car, basically it's all talk. You just have to get a feel for it and then you really know what is going on. At the moment, it's all a bit empty in my head as far as that goes.
Q: Michael, last time I saw you at the Grand-Am race in Phoenix in September it seemed like half the paddock wanted a piece of you. Can you summarize what happened there; the ramifications from that and did that make Paul (Gentilozzi) think twice at all about putting you in the car when you hadn't done the Champ Car race before?
MICHAEL McDOWELL: I was worried about that, for sure, in Grand-Am I was on probation, I got a one-race suspension for aggressive driving - if you want to call it that. I was worried about what that was going to do as far as my career and how people looked at it. When I talked to Paul and other people in the industry, the way they see it is a young guy going for it and he's in a series that's still with mostly experienced drivers that from an experience side have more leverage with the series and so you know, for me, I don't think it hurt anything. It's going for race wins any time I had any issue and that's just kind of my style. I was there to win races, that's what they pay me to do. That's what I try to do. If that means taking some chances every now and then, then that's what I have to do. I think that all and all everything has gone over very smoothly.
Q: Any particular advice about jumping into a Champ Car on relatively short notice with not that much testing on an unfamiliar track?
MICHAEL McDOWELL: Definitely, Memo Gidley, he has obviously been in that situation more than once where he's jumped in during the middle of a season, so he has an indication of what it takes to do it. The biggest thing for me was kind of preparing physically because the cars are so demanding and definitely using a member of your team helps a lot. But as far as mentally preparing for a race like, somebody can only tell you so much, like Charles said, when you get in it, it's a whole different scene. It's definitely great having a veteran driver around like that and it definitely helps.
Q: Charles, I'd like to know what your goals are for this weekend?
CHARLES ZWOLSMAN: It's a very tough question because if I would have had a test before the race I would have known what to answer on that. But now that I didn't drive the car yet I don't know how much time it will take me to adjust to the car. So it's pretty much impossible for me to answer that question. So basically what I am going to do is make the best out of the time that's given to me, so -- and obviously I want to finish really strong there and -- but I don't know yet what is possible. We'll see, Thursday afternoon I will know more.
Q: Is this a realistic prospect for next year, the third Team Australia car or you are tackling this as a one-off only?
CHARLES ZWOLSMAN: Well, you never know, I am really grateful to Team Australia and the Champ Car organization for giving me this opportunity and if I do well or, you know, you never know what is going to happen. I look in all directions and certainly also to Team Australia.
Q: I guess for all three, have you guys practiced using simulators or do you use video games to help you get ready for both the track and for the increased power you are going to find in a Champ Car, Charles?
CHARLES ZWOLSMAN: I have used a video game, yes, mostly to learn the track because video games are getting better but they are still not really as realistic as the real thing. So it's mostly for learning the track, but it is a real good tool. Definitely saves you a few laps on the track itself. So it will save sometime.
MICHAEL McDOWELL: For me, I am a huge supporter and big fan of simulators. I actually utilize the Finlay team simulators it's very close and very realistic to the real thing. As far as how it prepares you, it's unbelievable, you know, a perfect example was Surfers, when I first walked around there I knew every corner, knew every curve, every wall, every color on the wall, I knew every single aspect of the track, other than the actual seat-of-the-pants doing it. I think the simulator is great for that. I think that it's a huge tool that a lot of people don't utilize that definitely helps.
TIMO GLOCK: I used it last year in Formula 1 especially helped me out a couple of times. This year it was difficult to find a realistic game so I don't get much help here. Difficult to make it pretty real on the street tracks, but definitely a help what comes up now left-hand or right-hand, how quick is it, is it second, third fourth gear, that's pretty close to the real thing -- it definitely helps, definitely an advantage when you get a good one that you can use.
Q: Timo, I guess one question would be obviously you look at Montreal where you came close to the win; ended up second. Beyond Montreal, what would you sort of pick as the race that sort of was your highlight race of the season or the best weekend of the season for you?
TIMO GLOCK: Definitely Montreal was definitely the best race of the season, I think. A couple of other races like Monterey at the beginning of the year was pretty good because we had a really quick car and Denver was pretty good. I started 10th and made our way back to the Top-3. Ryan, he was pretty strong, I think he was one of the strongest in the whole race. It was, I think, Denver, Monterey and Montreal were the best weekends, best races that we had this year.
Q: You overall impression of racing on the ovals at Milwaukee and Las Vegas?
TIMO GLOCK: That's a completely different style of racing. Milwaukee and the two ovals are completely different. Milwaukee compared to Vegas is pretty slow, but pretty challenging for the driver and the team. And Vegas was pretty fun and pretty challenging because I was a couple of times pretty close to 10, 15 laps side-by-side, it was pretty cool and pretty fun. The other way, it's pretty dangerous and you can see straight on, I mean, I had my first crash straight on in Milwaukee which was pretty heavy and I had pretty heavy pain for a couple of weeks in my lower back. That was pretty tough. I mean, that's oval racing and I mean, it's fun to drive and it's a good show for the fans, but I am more a fan of tracks like San Jose or like Denver and Montreal. That's more fun for me. Because it's more about the driver, more challenging for the driver.
Q: Charles, how did this ride materialize, do you have sponsorship behind you or was this a reward for winning the Atlantic Championship and the second part of the question is what are your plans for next year?
CHARLES ZWOLSMAN: Yes, it was a reward for winning the championship, they told us about it at the banquet. I had the opportunity to do the Mexico race which Champ Car and Toyota Atlantic organized for me and, yeah, the last few weeks, things materialized and so I went to Team Australia to make a seat and now I am here to do the race. And as far as next year is concerned, I would like to do the Champ Car World Series next year; still looking for a seat, so in the winter season I will look what happens and see what we can do.
Q: Timo, there's been rumors about you possibly trying out or looking at other teams for next year. Are those rumors at all true and can you tell us anything about what you're looking to do?
TIMO GLOCK: I mean, in that part of the season I think everybody is talking to everybody and everybody is looking for maybe a different opportunity, but at the moment I am still concentrating on my last race in Mexico City and we're still talking to Ford and definitely talking for next year, but I mean, there are a couple of interests from other teams, definitely talking and we'll see what is going on. I said officially to everybody that I want to be in a possibility to win or to be in the Top-3 next year in the Championship or in the Top-5. The possibility has to be there to be in the Top-5, one of the Top-3 consistently. That's possible. That's possible with any other team. We'll see what is going on with the winter season. But at the moment, you can see that every single Championship there is so many speculations going on. So we will see. I think the decision will be pretty soon, the next three, four weeks what is going on maybe driving a second year at Champ Car, which I would prefer, or we can find a way to go back in Formula 1. That's difficult and there's so many things going on right now so we have to wait a couple of weeks then we'll see what is going on.
Q: Do you anticipate DHL staying with you for next year?
TIMO GLOCK: Yeah, I think so. It looks pretty good. A couple of rumors went around San Jose that everybody said DHL would be out of the team with Timo Glock. Now they make a team with Porsche and everybody said I am going to Penske and drive there; which is not -- definitely not true. DHL will be -- maybe will be a part of the sponsor next year; maybe not. We'll see. The decision will be in the next couple of weeks.
Q: Charles, at what point during the season did you secure enough financial backing where you knew that you could compete for the rest of the year and run for the Championship. What happened in terms of losing your pole at Long Beach, at that stage did you figure the Championship was lost?
CHARLES ZWOLSMAN: Well, actually, I think with the backing question, I think during half the season we were quite sure that we would make it to the end of the season but still it was a small struggle every race to still get the money physically at the team, so for that part, but it didn't bother me too much because I was concentrated on the racing. Before coming here I didn't really have the expectations to go for the Championship seeing that I was only coming in one and a half weeks before the race and everybody was doing a full testing season before that. So I didn't really have the expectation to do so well that I did. So basically when I went to the back of the grid, I thought this is not good but I have to make the best it and finished on the podium and things started to roll for me.
Q: If you are not able to secure a Champ Car deal for next year, do you find the changes in the rules package and financial incentives justification enough to come back and defend your Championship?
CHARLES ZWOLSMAN: I do really think that the new series is going to be a really, really great series to drive in - $2 million purses is just great, the best I have ever seen in a (inaudible) series. But basically I have become Champion this year, so for me there's really nothing to win there. I would really prefer to go to Champ Car we'll see what happens.
ERIC MAUK: That will bring an end to our Champ Car media teleconference today.