CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland: Top three finishers press conference, part 1

An interview with: SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS JUSTIN WILSON ROBERT DOORNBOS THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the post race press conference for the Mazda Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland presented by Joe's Sports and Outdoor. We have...

An interview with:
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS
JUSTIN WILSON
ROBERT DOORNBOS

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to the post race press conference for the Mazda Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland presented by Joe's Sports and Outdoor. We have our second- and third-place finishers, Justin Wilson and Robert Doornbos. We'll start with Robert.

Robert, you had a really good start and actually pulled right up next to Justin. How was it?

ROBERT DOORNBOS: Yeah, it was just how I expected it to be really. I mean, the start, there was such a big fuss about it approaching the weekend. I think we proved just that you can make normal starts without any hassle as long as you are just relaxed. I think the procedure went very well with Champ Car.

I thought I had a better start than Justin. I proved it because I was alongside him. Then I just got a bit too excited with a miss-shift so the advantage was gone.

But all credit to Justin. He braked late. You don't win or lose the race in the first turn. Yeah, it was quite clean. I came out second. Then I immediately felt that definitely the red tires were not working for my car, struggling with oversteer. Just saw the gap growing and growing. Very frustrating moment. Justin was just cruising away. I was just trying to keep second place, which was quite easy in those conditions, but I could definitely not push harder. So I was just waiting for the first pit stop to come.

Then on the black tires, the car was a lot more easy to drive. The guys did a good job with the pit stops, very consistent. So, yeah, up to my third podium in four races. Obviously, it's great. It's good for the team. We proved today that if we want to win races or challenge these guys, Sebastien or Justin, we need to improve the car more. For the next jump to make, we have now two weeks, hopefully the guys can work hard and in Cleveland we can be even stronger.

THE MODERATOR: Robert currently sits third in our points standings. You haven't been to Cleveland, but what do you expect the team to be able to do when you get there?

ROBERT DOORNBOS: You know, they have the experience from the race. I've been watching the DVD of last year. Looks like an airport (laughter). Yeah, see how it goes when we arrive. It's a surprise.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Robert.

Justin, you started from pole and were in a big lead before the first pit stop.

JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, like Robert said, the start went well. He got a slightly better get-away off the line. I got a little too much wheel spin. I was just watching him alongside. When he braked, I braked. Made it pretty simple. I was on the inside. Got through. First stint was working really well. Just cruising really. Very comfortable with the car. It felt really nice to drive.

Then the second stint I was expecting to pick up the pace. It never happened. I was a little bit surprised at that. But, you know, ultimately weren't quite quick enough. Sebastien just slowly ate into my lead and eventually after the second pit stop he managed to get by me.

Pleased to get on the podium. I think everyone on the #9 CDW car did a great job all weekend. I'm really proud of them. Hopefully we can be up there and challenging for the win at Cleveland. In the meantime we'll be working on getting our car down to weight because we know we're giving away a lot of lap time and it only gets worse when we fill the tank. We got some work to do to make sure that we're competitive in the race situation. But at least we know qualifying is a lot better.

THE MODERATOR: This is Justin's second runner-up finish in a row here at Portland International Raceway. With the second-place finish, he moves from eighth to fifth in the championship points.

Justin, you've run at Cleveland coming up. What do you think the standing starts will mean, especially going into turn one, which is always treacherous at Cleveland?

JUSTIN WILSON: I think the standing starts will be good. Plenty wide enough, lot of room for everyone to go. I think it will be positive there.

The main thing is turn one is so open, it's so easy to get lost. Last year I think they put markers in on both sides of the track. That improved things to no end. As long as they keep enough references for the drivers to know where the corner is, you won't get caught out. There's a better chance of us all making it through.

THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Justin.

We'll now open it up to questions from the media.

Q: Justin can you be more specific what was it with you car, being fast at the beginning then not as much afterward?

JUSTIN WILSON: I wish I knew a little bit more. The car was working great. Everything was just fine. After a while we started to just lose a couple of 10ths. We dropped from 60.3 pretty much every lap to 60.6. We just leveled off there for a while, then 60.8. You know, they kept telling me over the radio that Sebastien was catching. There was nothing left. I was already flat out.

It was just hoping that we could do something once we got to the pit stop. I was hoping we were heavy on fuel and he was light. After the next pit stop, we went no quicker either.

I don't know if the temperature, when it dropped, the track temperature dropped, I don't know if that was a factor. Just certainly a little bit of understeer. At this place, it lasts for a long time. Yeah, not much you can do.

Q: Ever had a race like that before?

JUSTIN WILSON: No, you know, I've had races last year where I overheated the tires or wore out the tires. At Denver we struggled very badly, and a couple of other circuits. At that point I was just glad I was able to maintain the lap time. In the past when it starts to get away from you like that, it wears out the tires very quickly, you're in trouble. You start losing 4/10ths a lap until you're three, four seconds off the pace. I was quite pleased that didn't happen. It's an area we've got to work on.

Q: You talked about your car being heavier than the others, can you explain?

JUSTIN WILSON: I'm just bigger than the other drivers, unfortunately. The tech inspection will give a driver and car weight to meet. Obviously, the lighter drivers add more ballast to their cars. We all have the total weight the same. Unfortunately, we can't get down to our weight. It's a spec car. There's nothing we can take off it or bits we can take off to make it lighter. With the Lola, there were certain bits we were allowed to make it lighter. You could change the weight of the car and also where you put that weight. We just don't have that capability.

Q: Stop eating doughnuts...

JUSTIN WILSON: I'll cut out the doughnuts (laughter).

Q: Robert, in the second half of the race it seemed like a relentless pursuit of Will Power, looked like you were reeling him in, can you talk about that?

ROBERT DOORNBOS: You know, it was a good moment of the race for me because basically we knew that the top two guys were too far already. We gave up too much in the first stint. Lost definitely too much track time there. Then once the pit stop was gone, it was just a bit slower than the Team Australia pit stop. Will just got me there in the pit lane. Then I was sort of chasing him down.

At the end of the race when the track was rubbering in, my car was actually getting better. I really could start pushing. I could see him getting closer and closer. Obviously the team was keeping me informed about lap times. At one stage, I was doing the fastest laps of the race.

Yeah, then I could make the pass on him. That's always fun to make a good move for a good position. I just did it on the entry of the chicane. So, yeah, it worked out well. Afterwards, just could pull a gap of 10 seconds, which was also quite easy.

Again, I just see the times here, the difference with the top two cars, it's fairly big. We still need to improve the car. For sure we got some maximum out of it, maximum points, and that's important.

Q: Portland's contract is up this year would you be upset if Champ Car did not return here next year?

JUSTIN WILSON: For sure it would be disappointing to lose this track. It's one of the better tracks in the U.S. to race on as far as permanent road circuits. I think it's been an important part of Champ Car's history to come and race here. Hopefully it will be a part for the next number of years.

Q: How does it feel to do the standing starts?

JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, brought back some good memories. At first I saw the lights, I thought, I'm meant to do something now (laughter). I let the clutch out.

ROBERT DOORNBOS: That showed. That's why I was a bit quicker (laughter).

JUSTIN WILSON: I have to work on my reactions.

ROBERT DOORNBOS: It's fun. Like Justin says, it's fun. The fans enjoy it. It gives us this extra adrenaline boost. You're being tested for your reaction, see how big the brain is to remember what you need to be doing.

Q: Justin, Sebastien got bottled up in the first stint, were you surprised afterwards with the speed he reeled you in?

JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, I think initially it stayed stable, then it was one second after maybe 10 laps, then it started coming down very quickly. At that point I was trying to do the calculation. At that point he sat right behind me. It turned out right after the second pit stop. It was just frustrating that we couldn't go any quicker. I was already running the maximum every lap.

Q: For the moderator, when was the last time we had a caution free race?

THE MODERATOR: The last time we had a race with no yellow flags was Elkhart Lake 2000. Last year we ran with a yellow start here. After the yellow start, we ran caution-free as well. We ran 105 laps last year and 103 this year caution-free. We're at 208 consecutive laps here caution-free laps at Portland International Raceway.

Thank you, guys.

Continued in part 2

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Robert Doornbos , Will Power