This Week in Ford Racing
November 1, 2005
Champ Car World Series
Sebastien Bourdais heads into this weekend's race in Mexico City as the 2005 Champ Car World Series Champion. He clinched his second consecutive CCWS title in Surfers Paradise on October 23rd, becoming just the fifth driver in series history to win back-to-back championships (Rick Mears [1981-1982] , Bobby Rahal [1986-1987], Alex Zanardi [1997-1998] and Gil de Ferran [2000-2001]). Bourdais, who won the Mexico City race in 2004 talked about the upcoming weekend, the new car from Panoz and his experience in the Crown Royal IROC series.
Sebastien Bourdais No. 1 McDonalds/Newman-Haas Racing Ford Lola
How does it feel going into the Mexico City Race as the defending polesitter, race winner and 2005 series champion?
"It's pretty cool, there is no pressure. We are going to try and win the race. Quite a few people are going to be trying to finish well and show what they were not able to do earlier this year. I don't expect it too be easy. Mexico City is a great track and we did well last year so it would be good to be able to repeat."
With all of the support races in Mexico how does the track surface change during the weekend?
"For the past two seasons, we have had no problems. Mexico is really dusty and all that, but the track is a beautiful course. It has a bit of everything and it's just a great road course. The only thing that makes it really hard is the altitude. We make so much downforce that the cars are sliding a lot and it's a challenge to balance the car properly, so that's always a tough thing. But other than that, it's a great venue with a lot of people."
How do the fans in Mexico compare to those in Canada or here in the United States?
"In Canada we have great venues and the U.S. we have the Long Beach and Denver races with very good crowds. The Mexico race is just unbelievable, they have the largest attendance of the race weekend and you can definitely see it. It's just floods and floods of people."
With Champ Car going global how important is it to get more engine and chassis suppliers into the series? DO You hear some people label the series as Formula Super Ford?
"We'll we like that. We like that, but yeah, right now I don't really know what the engine situation is going to be like. We have a great package that is very powerful and very reliable. It's extremely cost efficient. So I think everybody loves the engine package. I think it would be quite a mistake right now to change it. The fact that it's also inexpensive on the chassis side is good. It's true that Champ Car has been involved with Lola for many years but I guess every relationship has to come to an end. I guess Panoz has come in with a better offer and I'm sure that they will do just fine and provide a strong, good car. If the cost is going to be significantly down, like we expect, it will be a huge help for everybody. Hopefully we can get more cars and have an even better show"
Did Champ Car consult with the drivers and teams before they made a decision on the 2007 chassis?
"The guidelines were discussed in small groups and we had our input on things with the series technical director. The technical director has to do what he thinks is best. If you listen to people you are going to have 50 answers and they will all be different. Definitely you need to have a strong technical director who knows what needs to be done and which way we want to go."
Last Weekend you wrapped up your last race in the IROC SERIES at Atlanta. A lot of good things were said about you by Mark Martin and Dave Marcus. How does that feel to receive accolades from veterans in the series?
"The IROC series was extremely different than what I was used to. I think I was able to provide very accurate information and feedback to the people I was working with. I worked with the guys on how to improve the cars in traffic. I think they really appreciated my comments and I had a great time. Dave Marcus is quite a character. With Mark Martin, I think it was just a lot of respect from each other. He is a really experienced guy whose opinion was important to listen to. I was a little surprised that they were so high on me. It can't hurt and it just makes you feel very good to know some people appreciate what you are doing."
Of the four IROC tracks what track was the most challenging?
"Of the four it was definitely Richmond. It's a track that you really have to drive. It was a bit disappointing, because in testing I did well there. I had to go to a test with Newman-Haas and when I returned the car never felt like it had in practice. So basically I was just running around not being able to be a contender. It was a bit frustrating but sometimes things just don't go the way you would like."