An interview with: Sebastien Bourdais, Justin Wilson and Will Power ERIC MAUK: All right, ladies and gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post race press conference, the Gran Premio Telmex presentado por Banamex, the season finale...
An interview with: Sebastien Bourdais, Justin Wilson and Will Power
ERIC MAUK: All right, ladies and gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post race press conference, the Gran Premio Telmex presentado por Banamex, the season finale of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We'll be joined by our top three finishers. At the moment we have two of our top three finishers, starting with our third place runner today, he's the driver of the #5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Team Australia, Will Power.
Will earns his first podium of his Champ Car career. He is the first Australian driver since Jeff Brabham to earn a Champ Car podium. Today's performance also clinches the Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year title for Will.
Will, strong race. I know you wanted to bounce back from Australia, put a good number on the board. Great run. Tell us a little bit about it.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I mean, we struggled on the red tires in the first stint. I lost a lot of time to these guys. When it rained, the car was better. It was quick enough. I think it was the quickest car out there at the time.
At the end, it was quite a relaxing race the last probably 15 laps because there was no one in front of me, there was no one behind me. That was easy. But it was just awesome for the team, all the crew and everyone to finish on the high, win the Rookie-of-the-Year and get my first podium the last race. I'm really happy.
ERIC MAUK: Tell us about that stint in the wet. They didn't get to see too much of it on television. You were chewing up a second, second and a half a lap off of Bruno Junqueira's advantage until you finally ran him down.
WILL POWER: Yeah, this morning in the warmup, we really struggled in the wet, a lot of understeer. The guys knew what to do when we went to wet tires, and the adjustments we needed for the front wing. I think that helped a lot.
Yeah, I mean, I found the car really easy to drive. Saw myself catching Bruno quite easily. I got him. After that, it was just catch the cars ahead of us.
ERIC MAUK: The result also moves Will up to sixth in the final season standings. Congratulations, Will. Great run today.
WILL POWER: Thank you.
ERIC MAUK: Today's runner-up, driver of the #9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, Justin Wilson. Justin led a race-high 40 laps, finished as the race runner-up for the fifth time this season. More importantly, he finished second in the season points standings moving ahead of A.J. Allmendinger with today's finish. Seventh podium finish of the year for Justin.
Tell us a little bit about it. Strong race. Got away from you at the end.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it was quite an eventful race, a lot happening. I managed to get a good start initially. On the restart, I just was a sitting duck, once you get onto the long straight. Fortunately, about six or seven laps later, I managed to repay the compliment to Sebastien, get the lead back.
The car and the CDW team has done a fantastic job all weekend. I'm very grateful for their efforts. You know, just working towards next season now. We finished third last year, second this year. We want to continue that trend.
ERIC MAUK: Tell us a little bit about how the hand affected you. Did the hand affect you?
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it was not too bad until I got about halfway through the race. Every downshift, the shocks and the gearbox was definitely letting me know that I'd damaged my hand. Each lap and each downshift, it got slightly harder, slightly worse.
It mainly meant once it rained, I didn't quite have the finesse I was looking for. We struggled a little bit in the wet.
At the end of the day, we had a great race. I think we put on a good show. We'll work to improve next year now.
ERIC MAUK: Talk a little bit about the last lap from your perspective.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, I was really struggling a lot. We opted to put another set of Bridgestone wet tires on. The track was drying very quickly, so we were sliding around a lot on the last five laps. I could see Sebastien was catching and catching. The last three laps was, you know, very tense.
Fortunately, I had enough 'push to pass' I could run down the straight every time. Every time I got on the brakes, the car would take longer to slow down, slide through the corner a bit longer, couldn't get back on the power. Just trying to control that, guess what the next one was going to be.
Unfortunately on the last lap, I went wide into turn four, Sebastien got a run out of turn five, and you saw the rest.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good run today.
JUSTIN WILSON: Thank you.
ERIC MAUK: The winner of the Gran Premio Telmex presentado por Banamex, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais, the 2006 Champ Car World Series champion, winning that title for the third time. Sebastien led 24 laps on the day, wins his seventh race of the season, matching a career high, the 23rd of his career.
Where do we start, Sebastien?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I guess, you know, it wasn't a matter of leading the most laps; it was a matter of leading the last one. No, it was just an incredible race, a great battle with Justin the whole time. We both drove the wheels off these cars. That was pretty exciting, I think, at the very end when we decided to stay on the same set of tires, Bridgestone wet tires, it made the whole difference. I was pretty sure the tires were worn out and the track was only damp. I was pretty sure that was the right call. Then kept pushing, pushing, pushing, pushing. I didn't know if Justin had changed the tires or not, but I guess that makes the difference. Now I understand why. If it had been only three or four laps to go, new tires would have been a big help.
But with that amount of amount of water, just completely deteriorated too quickly. It was just a great opportunity for us.
I really want to thank all the McDonald's team. They've done awesome the last three years, and even before that. You know, I really wanted this win real bad for them because I think they deserve it. Two pit crew guys who were throwing up before the race. That was the least I could do. I think it's just a great way to finish that era of Champ Car with the last victory.
ERIC MAUK: When you came out of that last pit stop, Justin came by on the frontstretch, probably a four-second lead at that point, you thought maybe the tires were going to wear out, at what point did you know you had a shot at it?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I didn't. I mean, I didn't even think about it. I just kept driving the wheels off that car, and it paid off. I could see after a couple of laps that I was starting to catch him, and he was running into a little bit of traffic, then I had myself to go through the traffic. You know, I still had quite a bit of 'push to pass'. I just used it all and caught him.
Then after that, it was just kind of a mind battle when, you know, you know the guy is right on your rear wing, you're not quite sure what he's going to do.
But I think three laps to go, I really thought I wasn't going to make it. Two laps to go, I didn't think it was doable any more. Then the last lap, as Justin said, he made a small mistake and I went for it.
ERIC MAUK: Real quick before we turn it over to the media, about 15 laps to go, you were chewing into Justin's lead a little bit, one lap where you lost five seconds. We didn't see what happened. What happened there?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: What happened, it's a shame you didn't see it, it was kind of spectacular really. I actually lost the car between 11 and 12, made a 360, stayed on the gas, managed to get it back straight. At that point I was like, Maybe it's just better to settle for second. I just kind of was driving the car, but a little less hard.
I don't even really know how we managed to get back to Justin's rear wing because at that point, after a 10-second deficit, it seemed like it was just not going to happen.
ERIC MAUK: Two times in three years here where you've done a 360 and come back and won the race.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I guess I want to put too good a show for the Mexicans.
ERIC MAUK: We'll take questions from the media for our top-three finishers.
Q: During the 2006 season you got married, won your third Champ Car Championship and are now waiting for your first child to be born, what do you think the 2007 season will hold for you?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I guess it's the beginning of a great adventure for Claire and I. We're very much looking forward to it. I think we're going to have a great winter. Now, as I said, we have a great challenge laying ahead of us, for Champ Car with the new chassis and also because I'll be able to go back to LeMans for 2007. I'm not quite sure what's going to happen, with who I'll be driving. But if the schedule allows it, I'll definitely do it.
It's just a very exciting year with a lot of new things to do and things to do again for '07. A lot of fun and perspective.
Q: Where did you spin?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Between 11 and 12. Not the best place. My usual (laughter).
Q: And when you spun two years ago?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Two corners later.
Q: This is the best race I have seen in years. What was it like to have such a battle in the final laps of the race?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It was weird.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, I could see Sebastien was obviously quicker. He was managing to go quick on the wet tires, catching me up. He got on the outside. I could see him still accelerating ahead. I'm thinking, Okay, it's going to be interesting.
But fortunately for me he just started to slide wide and allowed me to continue and take the corner. He had to back out of it.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I really thought he was just letting me by because he kind of stalled the car coming up the chicane. I thought, maybe he just doesn't want to risk anything because second place in the championship is won now. Then we started kind of drag racing down the peraltada. I was like, Maybe not. Then I was right on the white line and I could see it was closing. I thought, This is not just looking good. At that point I just had to back off. For some reason, the outside was no grip at all.
ERIC MAUK: That will wrap it up. Thank you, gentlemen. Thank you all for your support.