Junqueira Keeps Title Hopes Afloat with Victory Down Under
Bruno Junqueira took advantage of quick pit work to get out front, then relied on his Bridgestone Potenza race tires as he pushed his race car to its limits in pulling away to a victory today. The win, Junqueira's second of the 2004 season, kept him alive in the championship chase, as he and Newman/Haas Racing teammate Sebastien Bourdais will battle to the season finale in Mexico City.
Buoyed by a lightning-quick lap 31 pit stop that put him ahead of Bourdais, Junqueira inherited first place on lap 40 when other cars out of sequence completed their stops. At that point he put the hammer down, logging a succession of qualifying-pace laps, including the fastest lap of the race on 49th trip around. It allowed Junqueira to build enough of a cushion that he could stop for a splash of fuel on lap 53 and retain the lead. The race ended under caution when Patrick Carpentier's car crashed hard after losing its front wing.
Junqueira knew his Bridgestone tires would stand up to the punishment he placed on them as he extended his lead. So confident were he and his crew in the Potenzas, that they left that the same set of tires on his PacifiCare Ford/Lola during that final pit stop.
"I'm very happy because the last two years here I led but did not get the win," Junqueira said. "This year, everything went perfect. The Bridgestone tires held up very well. I did over 20 laps on a set of tires (in the final critical stint), pushing very hard, and my car was just perfect. The tires were great! Every lap I was going 110 percent and they stayed perfect."
Quote from Joe Barbieri, Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport: "Bruno certainly showed he had a fantastic car once he got out front, and he's very deserving of the win today. He pushed his car at a frenetic pace to build his cushion, but the Potenza tires again rose to the challenge. And with the mandatory tire change on pit stops removed for this race, it was good to know that many teams had the confidence in their Bridgestone tires to leave them on extra laps for the final dash to the checkered flag. Unfortunately that dash never came, and our thoughts are with Patrick Carpentier, his family and team at this time. We wish Pat a speedy recovery."
Race temperatures ranged from 93 to 112 degrees track and from 79 to 84 degrees ambient (F).
Race temperatures ranged from 34 to 44 degrees track and from 26 to 29 degrees ambient (C).