CHAMPCAR/CART: St. Pete: Season opener Quoteboard

Grand Prix of St. Petersburg "Quoteboard" SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS ( ...

Grand Prix of St. Petersburg "Quoteboard"

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (#2 TBA Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone):
"I think it will be a tough weekend. To start the season and a new experience on a street course is always difficult because the type of track is asking for more concentration to not make any mistakes and stay off of the walls. It will also be more difficult because it will be my first race in a single seat race car that will last for two hours. It will be a busy weekend but the car is good and the team is good so that will make the weekend run smoother."

JOEL CAMATHIAS (#19 Dale Coyne Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "It is a pleasure to race in such a lovely place as St Petersburg. I had the pleasure of meeting the Mayor and everyone involved has done a great job in the design of the track and planning the event. My goal for my first Champ Car race is to finish. I feel testing at Spring Training went well and my first goal is to finish the race."

PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone):
"So much has happened in the Champ Car series since we last raced a few months ago - with new teams, new drivers and new rules, like the elimination of traction control. I'm sure that the drivers are as eager for the season to start as the fans are, so that we can see what impact all the changes are going to make. I'm convinced it will be a very positive thing for the Champ Car series. We saw in Spring Training that the caliber of competition is extremely high, and I expect that every race will come down to a battle. I was really impressed by the street course in St. Petersburg when I first saw it a few weeks ago. It's a track that should be very fast, and I expect in some of the wider areas, especially on the main straight by the airport, there will be some good passing opportunities. And I've been told the track probably won't be as slick as some of the other street courses, so we should be able to hit speeds in the 300-kilometres-per-hour range on the faster portions of the track."

MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone):
"I'm really looking forward to kicking off the 2003 season in St Petersburg. It's almost like a completely new Herdez Competition this year - we have a lot of new staff, two cars and drivers. Everyone is very motivated toward the goals we have set as a team and we know we'll be able to do a lot more development of the car with two sets of input. We're going to have a lot more tools this year! St. Pete is a beautiful place! I've been there twice now [for Spring Training and again on 2/12/03 for a promotional visit] and I think it's a great venue for a race. It's a very unique track. We've raced on streets before and on the airport at Cleveland but never on a combination of the two. The engineers are going to have quite a challenge getting the cars dialed in for this one-of-a-kind circuit! And for the drivers and fans, I think it's going to be super-fast!"

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone):
"I am very excited about the start of the season. This will be my first race in awhile [Fernandez missed the last three events of the 2002 season due to an accident at the start of the Australia race on October 27], and the main thing for me is to get back into a rhythm. I have been working very hard physically to be as close to 100 percent as I can be for St. Petersburg. From what I have seen of the track and from speaking with Bruno [Junqueira] who did a few exhibition laps, it is a very nice circuit. With the beautiful scenery, it is the perfect site for a Champ Car event and a great place to start the new season. Obviously there will be a lot of new teams and new faces at the first race, but there is a lot of talent there. During the ten years that I have been racing in Champ Cars, we have had a lot of surprises from rookies. [Juan Pablo] Montoya is a good example. You can never underestimate the rookies and new competition."

MARIO HABERFELD (Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone):
"I am very excited to be in my first race with Champ Car. I have always wanted to be in this championship series, so it is a dream come true. Result-wise, it's difficult to predict our outcome with a new team and a new driver. We'll do the best we can to come away from the weekend with points."

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (#31 TBA Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone):
"I've been looking forward to this event, since I started racing 11 years ago. I grew up just three hours from St. Pete, so not only is this my first Champ Car race, but along with Miami, I consider it my home race; it will be incredible. The fact that I grew up racing karts and developed my racing career here makes it even more special. I was obviously hoping to have much more time in the car prior to this event. My first test was earlier this month at Spring Training. We ran well, I spent several hours testing the car, getting acquainted with it and practicing pit stops, but that was basically it, so I will have to adapt quickly. The Skip Barber system and the CART Toyota Atlantic series have trained me well for Champ Cars; the top step in American open wheel racing, so that gives me a lot of confidence. I couldn't ask for a better, stronger group of guys and girl (Mechanic, Tess Brelia) preparing my car. My speed and development as a driver in the Champ Car World Series will come with time spent in the car, so I have to take full advantage of every lap at St. Petersburg. I am really excited and proud to carry the American flag this season alongside my experienced teammate, Jimmy Vasser."

MICHEL JOURDAIN (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone):
"I am elated that the start of the Champ Car season is finally here. Even though it has only been a little over two and a half months since we finished the last season, it has seemed like forever. We had a strong spring training [third quick overall] and I think we as a team are anxious to take that momentum and start the season. We had some success last year, but we didn't win and that is the first challenge for us this year. We showed we could run very consistently in the races, but our problems stemmed from qualifying. We have focused a lot of attention on being successful in qualifying. If we improve in that area then we will be racing for top-five's and podiums not top-ten results. I think the race in St. Petersburg has the potential to quickly become a great tradition in the region. If you look at other seaside races like Long Beach and Australia, those events take on a bigger than life atmosphere on race weekend. There is something about the cars running by the marina and the party atmosphere that comes from the hotels and restaurants by the track. I think all the ingredients are here for this to quickly become one of the premier events in the Champ Car World Series."

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I think my approach to the 2003 season is really different than my approach to 2002. Before the season started last year I was in a situation that was very uncomfortable and not many people believed in me. I had to prove that I could win races and I finished second in the Championship. Newman/Haas Racing picked me to drive for them and I am very comfortable with the team. I am quite happy with my performance last year and I will work hard to improve on that. This year my goal is to win races but also win the Championship. Newman/Haas Racing is a good team and we have the potential to do it. I think the track is a little bit like Long Beach not only because it is near the water and downtown, but because of the 90 degree turns and fast chicanes. It's a good track. It's fast. It's pretty wide, especially on the main straightaway by the airport. There's going to be some passing, for sure. It's going to be very exciting."

RODOLFO LAVIN (#5 Corona Competition Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Since I have driven in Indy Lights and Formula Atlantics, this will be my first race doing pit-stops. I feel good about the car and the team, so I am excited to get to St. Petersburg. The Champ Car series has some great drivers this year, and the competition is going to be tough, but I am working toward finishing every race and collecting as many points as possible. As the season progresses and I learn more about the Champ Cars, I hope to be fighting for a podium finish."

PATRICK LEMARIE (#27 TBA Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone):
"I am very excited about St. Petersburg as I have missed racing for a few years. The town and the track look very good. We have had only a short time to prepare, but the team and I will do our best and will maybe have a nice surprise!"

DARREN MANNING (#15 TBA Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone):
"I was very pleased with our first test with the whole team. After getting the correct seating position and pedal settings, we started working on the car set-up and we went quicker every time we went out. We learned a lot of things, especially that my driving style is different than the driver last year, so we had to change the settings a bit. Obviously, coming off of a good test with competitive times, my expectations are high for a good result in St. Petersburg. I love street-circuits anyway, and this is a new track for all of us, so we should all be on a level playing field, I'm looking forward to it. My goal is to score as many points as possible at every race - that is how you win championships. The trick will be to not give any points away to the opposition."

TIAGO MONTEIRO (#7 Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone):
"It is all a whole brand new experience for me and I am really, really excited. The car itself is a real racing car, with no electronic help and so on. You really get to the root of driving. There's only one official testing day for us, so this whole week is our test. This is very important track time for us to gain experience and learn. The team has done a great job building a reliable car. I appreciate all the help and professionalism of all of the Champ Car people. Without their motivation this would not have been possible in such a short time."

ORIOL SERVIA (#20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone):
"I am very pleased to have been able to do the testing we did during the preseason. It gave me an opportunity to work with the new car and engineer Steve Challis. I have been very impressed with the level of communication Steve and I have developed. In fact, the whole Visteon/Patrick Racing Engineering department has been fantastic and I want to thank the crew for doing such a great job preparing the car. I am very confident heading into the start of the season and I am confident that the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team will have good results and make Mr. Patrick happy. The first race is always exciting because it give you a good idea of where you are versus the competition, but after the first race there is still plenty of racing left so there is lots of work still to be done. The Grand Prix of St. Petersburg is a good first race for the Champ Car World Series. We have a lot of new drivers in the series, but this is the first time we will race on the streets of St. Petersburg, so it is like everybody is a rookie. From what I could tell when we visited the track the St. Petersburg circuit has a lot of quick, wide corners so it should be a good race and very exciting for the fans."

ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "My goal for the Champ Car World Series season opener in St. Petersburg is to place in the top five. That would be a great achievement for this new, but strong Rocketsports team. Of course we would like to win, but if we could place in the top five consistently it would be awesome! We tested the #33 Johnson Controls/Lola at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Sebring [International Raceway], and were able to establish a baseline set-up. We worked the Lola and can get a lot of speed. It's going to be a fast race on the new St. Petersburg track, with all those straight-aways. I'm ready and excited!"

PAUL TRACY (#3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I always look forward to the start of any season, but this one is even more special because it's my first race for Team Player's. I guess it's appropriate that my first race with my new team should come at a new venue. From what I've seen and heard, St. Petersburg is going to be a great setting for the season-opening race, and I can't wait to start running laps on the street course that's been laid out. It's going to be a new experience for all of us, and it's going to come down to how quickly we can adapt and adjust to the circuit and the conditions. You can't really use off-season testing as a measuring stick for how prepared you are entering the season, because there was a limited amount of testing this off-season. Team Player's had the opportunity to try some things with the new Lola chassis and the mechanics and engineers collected a lot of helpful information. But we all know we'll be facing an entirely different set of circumstances when we get to St. Petersburg, so we'll just try to learn as much as we can on every lap that we run and make as much progress as we can heading into the race."

JIMMY VASSER (#12 TBA Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone):
"St. Pete is the perfect place to kick of the 2003 season, it is a great setting and has a strong foundation for a successful future in racing. As for our team, we need to focus on reliability. I have no doubt that if we run to the end, problem-free; we will fight for a trophy. We are a new team, but I have never seen such a high level of energy and excitement, this is a very experienced and determined group."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Skip Barber , Dale Coyne
Teams Dale Coyne Racing , Racing Engineering