CHAMPCAR/CART: Montreal: Newman/Haas Racing preview

NEWMAN/HAAS RACING'S BOURDAIS AND JUNQUEIRA ENTER THE FINAL FOUR OF THE CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES SEASON IN MONTREAL AND AIM TO INCREASE THEIR SUCCESS HERE MONTREAL (August 23, 2006) --- When the final four rounds of the Champ Car World Series...

NEWMAN/HAAS RACING'S BOURDAIS AND JUNQUEIRA ENTER THE FINAL FOUR OF THE CHAMP CAR WORLD SERIES SEASON IN MONTREAL AND AIM TO INCREASE THEIR SUCCESS HERE

MONTREAL (August 23, 2006) --- When the final four rounds of the Champ Car World Series season begin this weekend in the Champ Car Grand Prix de Montreal at the 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course, McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais and Hole in the Wall Camps driver Bruno Junqueira will lean on the experience they have gained here in an effort to each reach their individual season goals. Bourdais is aiming for a record-matching third consecutive championship while Junqueira would like to earn his first victory since making his return to racing and add another Montreal win to his resume in the hope of climbing to a fourth place season-ending rank.

This weekend's 72-lap race will mark the fifth at the track and Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) has earned two wins and three poles in their four races here. Cristiano da Matta brought the team it's first pole here in the inaugural race in 2002 and Bourdais earned another two in 2004 and 2005 but has yet to finish on the podium despite leading a series-high 85 laps here including 59 last year in a dominating run before a pit problem dropped him to a fourth place finish. He hopes to turn his results around here this weekend and increase his 32 point lead over second place A.J. Allmendinger (275-243) and 35 over third place Justin Wilson (275-240) in the final stretch of the season.

"Montreal last year was a really good weekend for the McDonald's team," said Bourdais who finished fourth here in 2005, 15th in 2004 after contact with Allmendinger and 19th in 2003 due to differential failure. "We topped the charts in both qualifying sessions and then we went on to lead most of the race but when the last pit stop came and it was under yellow and everybody was packed up, unfortunately we had a bobble in the pits with one of the wheel nuts rolling on the road and that was pretty much the end of it (chance to win) and we finished fourth. It was pretty upsetting because we definitely worked really hard to get there but I guess it's always been my story in Montreal. We've always been quick but never could put it together so hopefully this year will be different. I think the McDonald's car was very competitive last year and the year before so hopefully we can keep the same kind of level and finally win it."

So far this season Bourdais has won five races and six poles in 10 events but a three-man hunt for the title between Wilson and Allmendinger, the only other race winners to date this season, has been forged. Bourdais looked likely to create some "breathing room" between himself and second place in the title fight with a second place finish in the previous event in Denver but on the final lap third place Paul Tracy slid into Bourdais after a late braking attempt and Bourdais fell from second to seventh and lost the chance to gain a much-needed 10 additional points. He is hoping to put together a mistake free race and finally get a much-deserved podium finish in Montreal.

"It's a high speed track with high speed braking," said Bourdais, who already clinched the 2006 Bridgestone Pole Position Award but is unable to earn a fourth consecutive Bridgestone "Passion for Excellence" award for the lowest average race lap due to being taken out on the first lap in Cleveland. "There are long, long, long and very intense braking zones going to chicanes where you have to be extremely accurate. You can't make any mistakes so it's challenging and I think everybody likes it. We have put on good races because there is quite a bit of passing and some action in the pack. But when you're the leader the last thing you want to see is a yellow coming about the time it came last year when you have a six or seven second lead."

In the four events held here, NHR has won the past two and finished on the podium another time when Cristiano da Matta started from pole in 2002 but finished second due to a conservative fuel strategy. Hole in the Wall Camps driver Bruno Junqueira won the event from a fourth place start in 2004 and Oriol Servia, who replaced Junqueira while he was injured last season, earned his first series victory at the track after starting second last year. Despite not competing in the event in 2005 Junqueira was on site to witness the team's second straight victory and is looking forward to continuing the team's strong results here.

"I have good memories about Montreal," said Junqueira whose last race here resulted in a victory after he led 25 laps. "The last time I raced there in 2004 I won the race and even though I didn't race there last year I came back to throw the green flag to start the race and Oriol won for Newman/Haas so I have good memories there. We have run well there and I have won in Montreal so I am looking forward to being competitive again this year. It's a very nice city and a great race course and I hope I can continue the momentum of our second place finish in Denver to Montreal and do well there this year."

Junqueira, a three-time runner up to the series champion, moved into ninth place in the season standings with 140 points after a second place finish in the previous race in Denver but is only nine points back from Mario Dominguez and Nelson Philippe who are tied for fourth with 149 points. The diversity of the series is highlighted by the remaining events in Montreal, Elkhart Lake, Wis., Surfers Paradise, Australia and Mexico City and the Brazilian is looking forward to the constantly changing scenery especially considering the events will take place on tracks he has either won on or finished second.

"The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a track that has big braking areas with fast chicanes so it's important to have a good setup under braking there," said Junqueira who lists a Montreal restaurant as his favorite of the season. "It's a very nice city. It's a mixture of a Canadian style city and a European city and there are a lot of cool places to go. I really enjoy racing in Montreal."

Junqueira's French teammate Bourdais shares his appreciation for Montreal. "It's obviously a French speaking country and it's great because I have a lot more fans over there than I do in most of the races in the U.S. or at least Toronto or Edmonton, Canada and it's pretty neat."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, #1 McDonald'sFord-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

Sebastien Bourdais, #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "I think the McDonald's car was very competitive last year and the year before so hopefully we can keep the same kind of level and finally win it. It's obviously a French speaking country and it's great because I have a lot more fans over there than I do in most of the races in the U.S. or at least Toronto or Edmonton, Canada and it's pretty neat.

"Montreal last year was a really good weekend for the McDonald's team. We topped the charts in both qualifying sessions and then we went on to lead most of the race but when the last pit stop came and it was under yellow and everybody was packed up unfortunately we had a bobble in the pits with one of the wheel nuts rolling on the road and that was pretty much the end of it (chance to win) and we finished fourth. It was pretty upsetting because we definitely worked really hard to get there but I guess it's always been my story in Montreal. We've always been quick but never could put it together so hopefully this year will be different.

"It's a high speed track with high speed braking. There are long, long, long and very intense braking zones going to chicanes where you have to be extremely accurate. You can't make any mistakes so it's challenging and I think everybody likes it. We have put on good races because there is quite a bit of passing and some action in the pack. But when you're the leader the last thing you want to see is a yellow coming about the time it came last year when you have a six or seven second lead."

Bruno Junqueira, #2 Hole in the Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "I have good memories about Montreal. The last time I raced there in 2004 I won the race and even though I didn't race there last year I came back to throw the green flag to start the race and Oriol won for Newman/Haas so I have good memories there. We have run well there and I have won in Montreal so I am looking forward to being competitive again this year. It's a very nice city and a great race course and I hope I can continue the momentum of our second place finish in Denver to Montreal and do well there this year. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve is a track that has big braking areas with fast chicanes so it's important to have a good setup under braking there. It's a very nice city. It's a mixture of a Canadian style city and a European city and there are a lot of cool places to go. I really enjoy racing in Montreal."

-credit: nhr

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Gilles Villeneuve , Sébastien Bourdais , A.J. Allmendinger , Nelson Philippe , Cristiano da Matta