Continued from part 1 ERIC MAUK: We'll let Jimmy and AJ go. Thank you, gentlemen. We are now joined by the winner of the Lexmark Indy 300 and the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion for the second ...
Continued from part 1
ERIC MAUK: We'll let Jimmy and AJ go. Thank you, gentlemen. We are now joined by the winner of the Lexmark Indy 300 and the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion for the second consecutive year, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais.
Sebastien wins his sixth race of the year with today's victory, the 16th of his career. He also recorded the fastest lap today setting a new race record in the process. He becomes the first back-to-back series champion since Gil de Ferran won the titles in 2000 and 2001. Sebastien, first let's talk about the race today.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I guess it didn't really start the way it was supposed to. I guess we didn't understand each other. We were supposed to kick off things really early with Oriol. By the pass, we were still idling in second gear. I was getting a little worried. I saw everybody bunching up behind us. I thought, "Trouble coming." Sure enough, when we got to the braking point, I was a little ahead, but not by much, everybody was all over us. What happened wasn't supposed to happen. It's just very unfortunate for the beginning of the race. After, I was feeling very bad. I was just supposed to be Oriol's wingman today. He was out on the first lap, or pretty much. I was behind PT, who came out of nowhere, jumping up and down in the chicane. I was like, "Yeah, that's just great." After that, I really had to win this race because it would have been terrible if PT had won the race for Oriol. So I was giving it all, even more than in regular conditions. I was able to stick with him. I nearly lost the car in the braking over the bump in turn three. I nearly lost it. I lost like two seconds in this lap. After I had to keep on saving fuel to try and go a lap further and still catch him because we were still too far away.
It was like a tough mission, but I still managed to get back in touch with him. We adjusted the car on the first stop, too much understeer. From there on, the race really turned around because we went one lap further with the changes. The car was really quick. We were in front this time, although we had to short fuel to make sure we were really going to go around. I really had to pull a gap on everybody behind to try and keep this position after the second pit stop. Sure enough, the yellow came out (laughter). I was like, "Okay, this is looking very good now." We still managed to really up the pace significantly in the second part of the middle stint. The car was responding really well, and I was just like a flying lap every lap. I did something like six laps like that before pitting. We pulled out a very nice speed and took the fastest lap of the race with it, which was something like 5 or 6/10ths faster than the qualifying lap. I was very happy with that, even more happy when I saw that we were going to stay in front because AJ didn't go a lap further either. He probably short fueled the same as us in the first stop. After that, it was a pretty straightforward deal. We proved we had the quicker car. I was just taking it easy. It was a cruise to the finish. Then when I heard that Oriol was settled for second in the championship, things went back to normal. It was overall a very good day for Newman/Haas Racing.
ERIC MAUK: The second championship for Sebastien Bourdais, the sixth championship for Newman/Haas Racing. Although interestingly enough, among those six champions, Sebastien is the first driver to win two Champ Car titles for Newman/Haas Racing. Sebastien, you clinch it again with a victory, just as you did last year. On top of the heap. Tell us how it feels.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I just got up, I said, "Maybe I should try a 360." No, I'm just kidding. It was a nice win, very straight forward once everything sorted out in the pit strategy. I was just very happy to see how quick we were again. You know, such a great reward for this team that's working so hard. Obviously you're going to say I won the back-to-back championship, but without the organization around me, I would be nothing. I can't be grateful enough for all this hard work. It's just unbelievable. One and two for the second time in a row in the championship. I guess Newman/Haas Racing is going to have a tough time to top it up again next year. It's tough to keep up with that.
ERIC MAUK: What are you going to do for an encore? Only Ted Horn has won Champ Car titles in a row.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I guess once you've tasted it, the one thing you want to do is try again. I think we can pretty much announce we'll be back in 2006 with Newman/Haas Racing and the McDonald's car No. 1.
ERIC MAUK: We'll open it up for questions for Sebastien.
Q: Another first-time winner here. What it about this track that means that nobody has gone back-to-back here? No person has won here more than once. What is it about this track?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I didn't win any other seasons here. Bruno, my teammate, won last year and I finished second. I guess Newman/Haas Racing has got to have a pretty good setup. It's true on basically every single street course. We definitely have a very strong car here. We qualified again with Oriol 1-2. As I said, it just outlines really well how good this team is.
ERIC MAUK: Newman/Haas Racing's sixth victory here in Surfers Paradise. Today's race attendance 105,297, bringing the event total to an event record 316,459. That is a record for the 15 years here at Surfers Paradise.
Q: As wins go, did this one have special significance, taking the championship? It was a race you said you particularly wanted to win, the Gold Coast race. Anything special about this race win today?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, yeah, it was one of the races I had never won before. It's an historical one. Obviously, it's one that means something. It's a long one. It's a race where anything can happen. You can make a mistake extremely easily. The chicanes are like big traps waiting for you to get caught. I was just extremely happy to go through it and show what kind of pace we had.
More than anything else, I think it's just really, really a great performance to be able to win the championship and to top it off with a win and finish in great fashion.
Q: About the significance of this win itself. We talked yesterday. You said in the first two years, you never really have been completely happy with your car here. You weren't really happy yesterday. Again, the fact you won the race obviously suggests the car was pretty good. I assume that is also a sense of satisfaction, too?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I was a little disappointed yesterday, although, as I told you, probably could have taken pole if for not really bad timing in the session. That's one that didn't count. But whatever. It was just not our day.
I wasn't very happy with the balance. It was still pretty competitive. As I told you, as I said, the car doesn't feel very good, it doesn't feel very competitive. It doesn't mean it's not. It feels weak from the inside. When you're looking at the clock, not looking bad particularly.
I felt that was one of the cars we had that was a little deficient compared to the feel we have somewhere around different places. We didn't make a big revolution, but definitely improved it significantly for the race, and even during the race we made it better.
It was very -- I just was having a very good time in the car the middle stint. It was a lot of grip, good balance. I was just throwing a lot of energy in the fight. But definitely great laps one after another.
Q: Even in practice and qualifying, the car seemed to have that little bit extra in it. Were you holding back at all at any stage?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No. The first day I think under rain we pulled off a great lap at the end - good enough to take pole on Friday. Yesterday, I never really got a chance to go up to speed. I did one lap and caught traffic. Then did another lap, caught traffic again. Most of the times on a track like that, it's good to have two or three times in a row. Never got in this position.
I was a little frustrated, as I said. But when you know you're going to finish the championship, everybody is like, "Come on, just cheer up, it's okay. Nothing wrong. You're still going to start on the first row. Don't be too greedy." But definitely during the race, we felt that the car was up to the challenge ahead and we just pulled it off. That's really satisfying.
Q: You have already won the championship. What can we expect of you in the race at Mexico City?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think Mexico City is a track where I was pretty good last year. I'm not going to go over there with any kind of pressure. Oriol is going to be eager to show that he can win the race. I think personally on the McDonald's side, we really have the right package to pull it off. It's just going to be a great fight. Really not so many people are going to have championship aspirations. It's just going to be about this one race, like a race outside of the championship where everybody goes for it. Might be pretty interesting, I guess.
Q: Earlier in the season a couple of times you said after races where you haven't won, "We just have to accept that this year isn't like last year." If that's the case, how do you feel this title compares to last year? Coming back from the earlier frustrations of the year, does this one mean more or would you prefer to have been absolutely dominant? How does this title compare to last one?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, yeah, I think you mentioned the frustration at the beginning of the season. I guess we really started very well with Long Beach, then things went a little wrong on the way, just bad things happened. Just like today, could have gone seriously wrong with the yellow falling at the wrong time when you're short fuel. You need to be a little lucky to win races and win the championship. Definitely things were not going our way. After taking a penalty after a master cylinder failure. It went on like that at Indy, something going wrong the last two laps, feeling we were working really hard and not getting rewarded for it. We were still finishing within the top five. We said, "If bad days are top five, I guess when things are going to turn around, it will be a great season again."
I think it's not been as enjoyable as last year because of the few incidents we had along the way. But at the end of the season, really when you look at the figures, we still pulled off six wins, there's one to go. Came kind of late, but the level of performance was really right there all the time. If not for incidents at the beginning, we probably could have had more wins than last year by the end of the season. I think we really have to be pretty happy with what we've done. I just hope that next year everybody is going to be -- it's just going to be a trouble-free season where it's, "Let's go racing," and everybody gets the results they deserve.
Q: After the results of these past two years, you've turned out to be one of the greatest champions the series has ever seen. Looking back at your early career, looking at Formula One, are you happy you came here now? Is it satisfying?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think I've always been happy to be there. You know, obviously when you're in a professional series and winning races, making a pretty good living out of it, working for Newman/Haas Racing, you have to be satisfied. F1 is not something I completely gave up on. But so far I never had a chance to prove what I can do. You need a good one to be able to show something. So we'll see if something happens during the 2006 season, if I can get a chance for the 2007 one. So far there's nothing really scheduled. We'll see what happens. I guess I can't predict the future.
Q: Will you have time to take in and absorb your win here on the Gold Coast? Are you on the first plane out for Mexico?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: First plane back home tomorrow. Unfortunately, every year we say we're going to stay there. But the schedule is not wide open. I have the Race of Champions in Atlanta on Friday or Saturday night. I have to make it back home, practice a little if I don't want to look completely stupid. Might want to hurry back home.
ERIC MAUK: Thank you. Sebastien, congratulations.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Thank you.