CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: Friday top-three qualifiers press conference

ERIC MAUK: Ladies and Gentlemen, we will go ahead and get started. We have our second and third finishers in the first round of qualifying for the Molson Indy Toronto, round 10 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by ...

ERIC MAUK: Ladies and Gentlemen, we will go ahead and get started. We have our second and third finishers in the first round of qualifying for the Molson Indy Toronto, round 10 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.

The top three drivers in today's qualifying are also the top three in our points standings after nine races. Third in today's qualifying session, Michel Jourdain, Jr., driver of the #9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, who ran a lap of 60.002 seconds, 105.296 miles per hour, to claim the third spot in first day qualifying. The winner at the Milwaukee Mile earlier this year has started in the top three four times already this year. Michel, congratulations. How do you feel about how things went out there>.

MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.: It was good. I'm feeling good with the weather and all that. I'm happy, I think it's a good place to look forward to tomorrow. Especially tomorrow, I mean, I heard before that tomorrow should be perfect, but I just thought that maybe it might rain again. So it's good. The track should be a lot faster tomorrow. So then the only guy set is Bruno, because everything else is going to change. The car feels okay. We just have to see what the track and the weather does tomorrow.

ERIC MAUK: Was the track totally dry when you first went out?

MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.: It was a hundred percent dry. I thought the times were going to be a lot faster. I had a couple of laps a lot faster on the first set of tires. I'm amazed the times were not faster than this.

ERIC MAUK: Thank you. Good luck tomorrow. Second in today's qualifying session is our championship leader, Paul Tracy, driver of the #3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. The 1993 winner of the Molson Indy Toronto posted a best lap of 59.803 seconds, 105.647 miles per hour to claim the second spot. After running fast early, that spin early kind of put you behind the eight ball. Tell us what happened there.

PAUL TRACY: I had a good run going on the first run, did a good time, had a quicker lap going and I spun, caused a red. We lost our quick time. We went out early because the track was fairly empty. We needed to establish a time. Looked like the weather was maybe going to get worse, raining. I went out and I ran a 59.6 and a 59.8 on the fourth lap. So it still wasn't quick enough, but it was good at that time. You know, we had to go much earlier. It gave a lot of guys a number to shoot for, and Bruno was able to put the lap together with one minute left. I was pretty much done with 14 minutes to go. We had to sit and wait and pray for rain, but it never came.

ERIC MAUK: The fastest lap of the session which you got taken away was 59.667 second, when you pulled in, like you said, there was still a lot of time left. You were the only guy under 60 seconds at that time. Were you surprised someone was able to run you down?

PAUL TRACY: Yeah, I'm not surprised. The track gets better and better at the end. I thought Oriol, he looked like he was going to get into the 59s. He got close. So I knew the track would get better. This is the type of track, because there's been no rubber on it today, with the weather conditions, the track was going to be better at the end. So we were hoping that the weather would get worse. But it was good. Bruno got it all together today. He was on the track at the right time. That's what it takes to get these poles.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow. Leader of the first round of qualifying for the Molson Indy Toronto is Bruno Junqueira, driver of the #1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. Bruno turned the quickest lap of the day around the 1.755 circuit, with a time of 59.486 seconds, 106.210 miles per hour. Bruno guarantees himself his third front row starting spot of the year, earns a championship spot for leading qualifying, giving him 110 on the year, closing the gap to seven points on Paul Tracy. Bruno, congratulations. 59.4, awful fast lap. Did you think you had that much speed?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Had nobody in the middle because of the rain this morning. It's a kind of situation where we were going to find out in the first run, on the first dry run for qualifying. I was the first guy to go out to qualify but I wasn't worried. I knew that the track was still a little bit wet, but I wasn't worried that the rains would come. Then on the third timed lap, I did like 60.8. That was a good lap by that time because the track was still a little bit wet. But then I did another two or three laps in traffic, because people realize it was good to run on slick tires. Then I lose the opportunity, too.

Then Paul Tracy did a 60.0. I started to lose position until I was sixth. Start to get a little bit worried it's going to rain. I thought was going to rain. Me and all the PacifiCare, the Newman/Haas team made a decision to wait till the end because we were the first ones out, and we knew that if the track would get better, I going to go back anyway. Today is really important to have a shot for the pole. I was lucky, at the end of the run I could put a run with no traffic, one of the only times this year that I could run without traffic. On the third or fourth lap, I put my best lap. They said it was one and a half seconds slow. I saw Oriol in front, and slowed down. I'm quite happy to be on the pole.

ERIC MAUK: A lot of rain between the time when you ran your last practice session of the morning and when you came out for qualifying. How much different was the track when you came out for qualifying?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Completely different. The morning, just run with the rain tires, lapping like 70 seconds. Now we run 59s. I mean, a big difference between wet and dry. These are the kind of situations that are most difficult because there is only one chance to be on this track and just run on the lap, then you have to go and put really fast laps, qualifying laps, when the track is dry. But those I think are the situations that myself, I like, and I believe Paul and Michel like, as well. Sometimes you don't like them, because there is a bit of water on the track. But when the track is like, you don't have much time of practice, I think it brings the best out of the drivers. I like these things. My car was good, but not perfect. I believe Paul Tracy and Michel's cars were not perfect. You are on the track, you have that shot. You have to go fast as you can with the car that you have. I like this thing.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. We'll go ahead and take questions from the media.

Q: How did the tires hold up today?

PAUL TRACY: I think it changes throughout the weekend. Obviously, right now the track is probably in its worst condition because there's no rubber on it. As the track builds rubber, you'll be able to do more and more consecutive fast laps. But right now it's quite hard on the tire. But, you know, places like Laguna or Portland that are very hard on tires, in the race you can run multiple fast laps in the race. We've seen races that we're running laps almost at qualifying speed during the race. You know, Cleveland for example, only half a second slower than our qualifying at the end of the stint. That's how good the tires are working that Bridgestone is bringing us.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think what happened is this is a street race, and there's no rubber on the asphalt, especially with this hard rain that we had on the last few days. The first time you pass on the corner, you start to put rubber, then the next guy, and then the tires go away much faster on the first and second set of new tires. After there is already the rubber there, and the tires doesn't go away that quick. That happens a lot when we're testing, very often. Like if you go testing in Mid-Ohio, you can go 30 laps on the first set of tires. Then on the second set you can do 35. On the other sets, you can do 40, 45. That's for example, you know.

Q: Are you getting faster as you go this weekend?

PAUL TRACY: If it's any indication of what the race pace has been like, the race pace has been fast, not far off of qualifying throughout the whole stint. The tire that Bridgestone is making this year is a great tire. I think it's better than last year.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I agree. And today was the first time, I don't know, at least me, that we run the new rain tires. For a street course, they are softer and they look better.

PAUL TRACY: I think you'll notice today, too, there was hardly any reds with two sessions in the rain. In the past, you had a hard time staying on the track because the tire was very hard in very wet conditions. The tire that Bridgestone brought for the rain here, we've had a really good rain session and a good test session for Bridgestone. All the drivers think it's great. I mean, you can run. It's a very safe tire in the wet.

Q: Do you make drastic changes in the setup for tomorrow or the race?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I mean, today at least for me, we started running with the setup that we came to run here. Like yesterday, I had that setup on the car. Didn't have much chance to make changes on the car because the track was always wet. Some people made changes for the wet track. But basically on this last run that I got the pole, was the car that we came here to start with practice. And I think that's going to be the car that's going to start tomorrow's session. Then we're going to start to work on the car, I think. I don't know about the other guys.

PAUL TRACY: I think for me, I mean, looking at it now, for the conditions, we're running basically how I qualified last year. I qualified on the front row last year. So maybe today it's a little bit stiff, the car, because there's not much rubber on the track. But tomorrow the track will improve dramatically. I think our setup should be better tomorrow.

MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.: I think, I mean, you just wait and see what the track does. Like Bruno said, you just come here with the best you think you can have. You come with the car, with more rubber in the track, the weather, what it does, then you start adjusting.

Q: You left a lap on the table, did you think you could go even faster?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, I did 59.4, and I looked on the dash. I knew that that could be the pole because I knew that the pole was 59.8. I did 59.9, I was P2, then I saw that 59.4, I think, "I'm on the pole." If I continue another fast lap ... I didn't look at the split but I think I was a little bit faster. But then the team called and said that there was traffic just in front of me, I was going to get traffic anyway. The team called me and said, "You have the pole." But as Tracy said, I could go faster, but I had maybe a little bit of clear track and a little bit better condition than he had. It's kind of difficult to say. It is important that I'm on the pole. These are the 10th race. Out of the nine races, maybe seven of them I could easily have gone much faster, and I didn't. And today I'm quite happy that I can even go a little bit faster, but I still have the pole. That's the most important.

Q: Is the championship point the most important thing you got today?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Today's pole is more important for the start. For sure the points can be more important at the end of the championship. It can be decided by one point. That pole means a lot. But for sure is important because tomorrow weather can be like today, can like start the session on dry or start on the wet, and change during the qualifying. If we make a bad call in the weather, like in qualifying, it can be last, can be like in a bad position the grid. And at this track it is really important to start up front.

Q: Were you worried when you were sitting on Pit Lane?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Like with 12 minutes to go, we had a few drops of rain. But then all that time was a lot of people on track. That was one of my lucky things. A lot of people went out between 14 and 12 minutes. I started to feel a little bit of rain. I told the team, we had to wait because it started to rain a little bit, but not enough to make the track slippery.

I mean, or is going to rain, or is going to be a little sprinkles and after it is going to be dry. Is not going to be like this for more than five minutes, then let's race. Like with 10 minutes to go, stop. Like eight minutes to go, went out in the track, eight and a half we went out.

One of the things, once I was in Europe, there was the Nurburgring in Germany which is difficult. Once in every two races the weather's crazy. It's like it's rain, the track just get dry, rain again, just get dry. On the Formula 3000 race that I won in 2000, was like that. Had to start on the dry, after raining, dry, then rain. I remember once watching the race I went like five miles away from the track from where the rain came. We used to call the people and say, "Is raining out here." That means like in five minutes it start to rain there. Played like a weatherman at that time. That's the only time I hope I can consider doing the weather.

MICHEL JOURDAIN, JR.: You're on the front row already.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: You need to have a haircut.

Q: Is the track much different from last year?

PAUL TRACY: Should ask the weather man, he'll give you the answer (laughter).

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: The track is the same. The weather is a little bit different (laughter). The tire is better. The engine is good, the same for everybody. The cars are good. And the people from Detroit, Toronto need to improve the weather. I don't know how you guys going to do it.

ERIC MAUK: Final grid will be set with qualifying at 1:45 tomorrow. Thank you.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Michel Jourdain