Top three finishers transcript from Champ Car World Series German 500 with Sebastien Bourdais, Mario Dominguez and Michel Jourdain KLETTWITZ, Germany (May 11, 2003) -- What follows is the post-race press conference transcript after Sunday's...
Top three finishers transcript from Champ Car World Series German 500 with Sebastien Bourdais, Mario Dominguez and Michel Jourdain
KLETTWITZ, Germany (May 11, 2003) -- What follows is the post-race press conference transcript after Sunday's German 500 Champ Car World Series event.
Eric Mauk: Michel, congratulations. Obviously a tough day early, but you came back, you came out of that last pit stop ahead of everyone and were able to run for the lead. Tell us about your day.
Michel Jourdain, Jr.: It was a tough day. There at the beginning my car was terrible in the traffic, so I lost some positions, went to I think like sixth or seventh, then I made back to like fifth. And the first pit stop, we had some kind of a problem, we took very long, and then when we came out, we just came out in the middle of the two Walker cars and hit Rodolfo and they gave me a penalty. So I went like to on the second pit stop to like 10th or 12th, and then I made back to fifth.
I mean, after that, I mean, the car was pretty good. There on the last yellow, I mean, we were able to catch them back, the lead group. We passed very pretty much a lot of guys. I was running third, second there with Sebastien and Mario. And there, I mean, I just didn't have anything for them, you know. When I was in a draft, I was left by myself many times, catching them, when I was doing the fastest lap. When I was in the lead, they would pass me quite easy.
I mean, coming into this race, I thought this was going to be really close. I was, I mean, quite happy with a lot of guys, they were racing quite fair, but a lot of guys were racing very dangerous. I mean, I think many guys in the series haven't hit the wall hard enough to know how it hurts, and many guys haven't probably lost friends in racing. And I don't know what a lot of guys were thinking, you know. So, I mean, I'm really happy everybody's okay, and we make some points, gain some on Paul. We're 10 points behind him. I mean, it's good. I'm very happy, three podiums in five races. Hopefully we can keep doing the same the whole season.
Mauk: Obviously, some anxious moments last night when there was a technical question. The team came in and argued the point and had a hearing, and the CART stewards stayed and they got everything squared away. We saw last year in May where there was a situation where we thought we had a race winner, the hearing went on for weeks and weeks. Last night there was the situation that got resolved in a couple hours and you went to bed last night knowing you were starting third. Talk a little bit about how the process of that all went and how happy you were to get it all done in one night, I guess.
Jourdain, Jr.: I mean, from what the team told me, we guys have nothing to worry about, you know. I mean, the rule book wasn't very clear. About the air filter, the rule book says you cannot touch the air filter and where it mounts, and the scoop for the turbo. That's the only thing it talks about. There's this other piece in there that doesn't exist in the rule book. And it's a Lola piece. Lola is different from Reynard. Some other cars have it different. We've got it for some races. They checked in it Brands Hatch. They thought it was okay, and then it's not. So then it was essentially the same piece.
So the team told me not to worry. Obviously, it went to the judge and the judge, by the rule book, it was very simple. So I have probably nothing to worry about. I mean, I sure we would have qualified for the third, too. We had a very fast car. We did the fastest lap of the race, so I guess there was nothing. I mean, we showed it just wasn't helping us.
Mauk: Started third, finished third, and has now moved into within 10 points of the championship lead, Michel Jourdain. Second now, by a scant 084 seconds, that's .084 seconds, is the driver of the #55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Mario Dominguez, who earns his highest ever oval track finish with a second-place run. This one also marks the first time in team history, dating all the way back to its many years as Bettenhausen Motorsports, that the team has earned back-to-back podium finishes. Mario also led 47 laps on the day. Mario, congratulations, back-to-back podiums, tell us how you feel.
Mario Dominguez: I'm very happy. We finished second today, it was great. I'm just very pleased, especially with the whole Herdez Competition team. I think they've been doing a great job all year. Today they saved me because my pit stops weren't the best. I didn't come in very well, but they still managed to adjust and kept me out of the pits very fast. They were my guardian angels today definitely, the Herdez team was fantastic. I got to give them a lot of credit.
My car, I think it was one of the best out there, if not the best. It was a lot of fun racing with Sebastien wheel to wheel, very clean but very aggressive. It was a lot of fun. I think he'll tell you it was one of the funnest races he's ever had, because it was fun for me, too. I'm just very disappointed with the people with CART and the officials because I got a penalty, and they say that I got a penalty for blocking. As far as I'm concerned, I didn't do anything wrong. Sebastien, when I was behind him, he was doing exactly the same thing I was doing, which is okay with me. But, you know, why should I get a penalty for something? I didn't do anything wrong.
So, you know, somebody's got to talk to CART officials and ask them what's going on and why they're making those kinds of calls. Other than that, I'm very happy. Congratulations to Sebastien. More than that, thank you to all the German fans. They were the best. They're so excited. They love racing, with their horns. Thanks to them. They made this race happen. Beautiful racetrack. So just very happy to be in Germany.
Mauk: Herdez Team in their last two pit stops, after the penalty, both times they came out ahead of Sebastien. They did a great job in getting back over the penalty and getting Mario back in position to win the race. Mario, three straight top fives for you now, a fifth, a third and a second. Obviously your best stretch in your Champ Car career. Has it gotten to the point now where you feel that rolling off the truck you've got a chance to contend for a win every weekend?
Dominguez: Yes, definitely. We have a chance at the podium every single weekend we started racing this year. The team is a completely different team. Last year I was having a lot of problems with the car. We didn't have a very good setup. It was just a struggle to keep it on the track. This year I can fight for wins, so it's a very different deal. The team has made a lot of development on the car, got new engineering, started doing things that they didn't used to do. So I'm a lot more confident with what they're doing. So that's building my confidence and their confidence. So we're just getting better and better every time.
Mauk: Excellent. Congratulations, Mario. Mario now moves into the top five in the series championship points. Our winner today, in what was the closest Champ Car World Series finish since the 2000 event in Michigan is Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #2 Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. Sebastien led 74 laps on the day and becomes the first driver since Juan Pablo Montoya to win consecutive races as a rookie, building on when he took his maiden win at Brands Hatch. Sebastien, congratulations. Was it as much fun for you as it was for us?
Sebastien Bourdais: Yeah, it was a lot of fun, for sure. It was a lot of stress, too. But I think we did such a great race with Mario. We just had a very little struggle when he didn't really see me. I was just one wheel, and I went across the grass. I think that's why they penalized him. It was very fair, but so tight. I mean, it was just really difficult to keep out of trouble. So I just have to say "all right" and thanks from my team because they gave me a perfect car. My Lilly car #2 was just exceptional today. I mean, we race fast all through the weekend, and it's the second win in a row, so what can I expect more?
Mauk: We now have a tie for the championship lead after five races with Paul Tracy and Bruno Junqueira knotted at 66 points, Michel Jourdain holds down the third spot at 56, with Sebastien moving up to fourth with 49, and Mario rounding out the top five with 40 points. Our next event will be the first night Champ Car race in the 100-year history of the Milwaukee Mile, the Milwaukee Mile Centennial 250 presented by Miller Lite on May 31st. We'll go ahead and open it up to questions for the media.
Q: Sebastien, very personally, you entered Champ Car like a thunder storm from Formula 3000. I must say personally I'm very surprised and happy that you adapted so quickly to Champ Car and ovals. What's the secret about this? Can you give me any info?
Bourdais: I don't know. I don't think I have any secrets. I think in that way I had everything to learn because I never raced on an oval, so it was just very tough. I was leading and I was in the position to try to challenge for the lead. We arrived on traffic. And this race is tough, so that was really tough. I had a big moment with Mario, and I was just trying outside step by step, checking the feeling with the car, and building up my confidence. That was just the secret of the day. Just don't go too quickly too early and just try to build your confidence step by step if you don't want to make any mistakes. And we adjust the car a bit after the first stop, and after it was just perfect.
Q: Those many laps when you were behind Mario and trying to get past him, then obviously the shoe was on the other foot in the last 10 or 15 laps when he was trying to get past you. Basically to me, it just looked like really the guy who held the inside line through all the corners obviously had the advantage. The speeds were evenly matched, basically everybody's going the same speed. Each guy forced the other guy to go the long way around the corner and would lose out. I mean, can you talk about both when you were behind Mario and then when you were in front of him?
Bourdais: Yeah, it was just I learned a lot behind Mario. I felt I was able to do something, but basically my top speed was just a very little, not big enough to overtake when I was side by side with him. Even with the jump I was able to get from the tow, it was not enough to get the position. So I had no real proper opportunity to overtake him, unless we get traffic and I manage it better. I think that's what I did in the last stint. That was just superb. And after when I was leading actually, as you said, when you had the inside line, that was just to try to put him a little in dusty air to build a bit of understeer on his car, not to allow us to be side by side with me. So that was very much a thinking game. And I think I did pretty well on that.
Mauk: Mario, your thoughts on that? Would you like to address that question?
Dominguez: It was a great racing. Like I say, it was a lot of fun. I just, you know, I think I definitely got penalized wrongly. I think CART is wrong because I was doing the right moves. I think Sebastien was, too. But, you know, why do I have to have penalty? It's just crazy. Somebody has to talk to the officials and tell them what's wrong. I want to see the video. But it was very, very straight racing. We were both very clean and very aggressive. So it was a lot of fun. I enjoyed it.
Q: Mario, you were kind of stuck there high in the outside groove. You kept on trying to go around the outside, it wouldn't work. What about trying to go to the inside? Did you try to do that? How was that not working for you, Mario?
Dominguez: Well, I think my mistake was to show Sebastien the way at the beginning, because he learned very well, very quickly (laughter). So then he was covering the inside very well, because that's pretty much the only way you can get by somebody. Because on the outside, you get stuck over there with the air. You take the shorter way around the track on the inside, it's hard to pass. My mistake was to show him which way to go early in the race, and of course he's a quick learner. We've all seen that this year. He learns fast.
Mauk: Thank you, gentlemen. Congratulations.