Junqueira & Bourdais Aim To Stop Tracy's Dominance in Toronto TORONTO (July 7, 2004) --- PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira is hoping to get to the top rung of the podium at this weekend's Molson Indy Toronto after four second place finishes in...
Junqueira & Bourdais Aim To Stop Tracy's Dominance in Toronto
TORONTO (July 7, 2004) --- PacifiCare driver Bruno Junqueira is hoping to get to the top rung of the podium at this weekend's Molson Indy Toronto after four second place finishes in five events this season while his teammate McDonald's ® driver Sebastien Bourdais has won three of the five races and is hoping to continue the dominant performance. In order to earn Newman/Haas Racing's (NHR) fourth 1-2 finish in Round 6 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford event, both drivers know they will have to beat local favorite Paul Tracy, who put in a dominating performance here last year by leading all 112 laps from pole as well as having built a temporary lead on the field of 35-seconds.
"Last year I qualified second to (Paul) Tracy and I ran the whole race in second place but on the last pit stop there was a problem, Michel passed me in the pits and I finished third," recalled Junqueira. "I was the second best car that day. I hope this year we can improve a little but I'm sure Tracy will be very strong. I think the PacifiCare car will be stronger this year and we can fight against him. I think for Paul Tracy to win in Toronto last year was good. I hope he enjoyed it because I'm going to try to keep him from doing it again."
Junqueira has held the championship lead for the past three events and holds a slim margin of three points over his teammate Sebastien Bourdais. Although claiming the season-ending title is his goal after having finished runner up to former NHR driver Cristiano da Matta in 2002 and Paul Tracy in 2003, Junqueira admits that nothing beats a win.
"The PacifiCare team has finished second four times this season and have been in a position to win but it hasn't come yet," said Junqueira, who arrived to Toronto on Tuesday to participate in Miss Indy promotional duties. "My goal is to win the championship with consistency but it would still be nice to win some races. I look forward to heading to Toronto, a track that I like a lot, and I hope we can get our first win of the season there."
In the past 19 events held at this track, NHR has won six with their most recent coming in 2002 by Cristiano da Matta, who won from pole. Michael Andretti won the other five races (2000, 1995, 1992, 1991, 1989) as well as one of the two poles for the team here (1991). In total, NHR drivers have amassed 13 podium finishes here (three second, four third). Junqueira hopes to earn his first victory of the season here and add to NHR's win total here as well as his championship aspirations.
In only five races this season McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais has matched his 2003 win total of three with his victory in the previous event in Cleveland. Although he is happy about his recent string of results, he knows that the Toronto course provided one of his bigger challenges last season. With limited track time last year, Bourdais struggled to find a good race setup for the course in Toronto but additional knowledge gained by his fourth place finish as well as experience gained later that season in Vancouver has the French driver optimistic about this weekend's race.
"It is good for the McDonald's team to win three of the five races this season and three of the past four," said Bourdais who is second to Junqueira in the point standings with a 133-130 margin. "I hope we can continue the competitiveness at the Molson Indy Toronto as well. Toronto was a difficult race for me last year. The course is very tough and I was struggling to get comfortable in the car on the tire compound we used. Especially since it is a street course that has four or five different (types of ) tarmac and you need to be able to set the car up for all of those different conditions. Also I didn't know what to expect from the race track. I didn't really learn the layout until the second day because we didn't run much the first. Also we had some rain and it was not very easy for the rookies that day but I still managed to finish fourth and I was very happy with that. We achieved a better setup in Vancouver last year and I felt much better in the car in those kind of conditions so hopefully it's going to carry on this year at both places."
Bourdais appeared to have set a Champ Car record with five consecutive front row starts to begin a season after provisional qualifying in Cleveland but a ruling by the Chief Steward contributed to a second row start of third place in Cleveland. Regardless, Bourdais' record is strong after having started in the first two rows in his past nine Champ Car starts dating to 2003's Miami event.
Over the years there has been plenty of excitement on the tight street course in Toronto. Being at the wrong place at the wrong time can have a big impact on your finishing position. Bourdais anticipates even more excitement this weekend and thanks to the addition of Ford-Cosworth's Push To Pass button.
"I think the Push to Pass button will be powerful because the backstraight is very long in Toronto (and) I think it will have a big effect," added Bourdais who was able to avoid a Lap 1, Turn 1 collision in Cleveland to take the lead of the race. "The straight part is not very long but the amount of time you are full throttle is pretty long so it's going to be a benefit. The only downside is that the track is pretty narrow and there is basically only one line. It's going to be interesting. I think we will see some interesting moves."
It is a well know fact that Canadians love Champ Car racing as evidenced by the 73,000 fans in attendance on race day last season. In addition to their support of Paul Tracy, Canadian drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani will receive their fair share of the applause this weekend. Even though it may not be considered a home race for the remainder of the field, all drivers look forward to returning to compete in Canada including Junqueira and Bourdais.
"I like to race in Canada a lot," added Junqueira. "There are a lot of fans on race day at all three races in Canada. The people are very knowledgeable about racing and I'm happy to have a lot of people that support me there. People that love Tracy, support him and people that don't like him support me. I have a lot of fans in Canada, it's very nice."
"There are many French Canadian fans in Toronto," added Bourdais, who has helped move France to second place in the Nation's Cup standings over Brazil. "They are more supportive of Patrick and Alex than me, of course, but it is good to see them at the track. It's Paul Tracy's hometown and the fans are really rooting for him. I think the win last year that Paul achieved was pretty impressive. Nobody could catch him. He really had a dominant weekend but hopefully we'll be able to give him a better run this year and try to kick his butt!"
The 95-lap Molson Indy Toronto will be televised live on HdNet at 1:00 p.m. ET on Sunday and Spike TV will televise the race on a tape-delayed basis at 4 p.m. ET / 3 PM CT.
Newman/Haas Racing, owned by actor/race car driver Paul Newman and racing entrepreneur Carl A. Haas, is the most successful team competing in the Champ Car World Series. The team is in the midst of their 22nd season in Champ Car competition in 2004 and will attempt to score their fifth overall title after winning 76 races and 80 pole positions. Current drivers Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais were preceded at the team by Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy, Christian Fittipaldi and Cristiano da Matta. For more information log on to www.newman-haas.com, www.brunojunqueira.com, www.sebastien-bourdais.com or www.champcarworldseries.com.