CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: Newman/Haas Racing preview

McDONALD"S DRIVER BOURDAIS LOOKS TO REGAIN POINTS LEAD AT THE MOLSON INDY TORONTO; PACIFICARE DRIVER SERVIA AIMS FOR THIRD PODIUM IN FOURTH RACE FOR TEAM TORONTO, Ontario, Canada (July 6, 2005) --- As a testament to the level playing field in...

McDONALD"S DRIVER BOURDAIS LOOKS TO REGAIN POINTS LEAD AT THE MOLSON INDY TORONTO; PACIFICARE DRIVER SERVIA AIMS FOR THIRD PODIUM IN FOURTH RACE FOR TEAM

TORONTO, Ontario, Canada (July 6, 2005) --- As a testament to the level playing field in the Champ Car World Series, there has only been one repeat winner so far in five 2005 events and Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) has only earned two of those wins. After an early season set-back that led to the temporary sidelining of Bruno Junqueira due to injury, NHR has settled into a rhythm and both McDonald's driver Sebastien Bourdais and PacifiCare driver Oriol Servia expect to make gains in their championship standings at this weekend's Molson Indy Toronto.

"The season has been so-so, so far," said Bourdais, 26, who won seven races en route to the Championship in 2004. "Championship-wise it was an okay start but it is not really satisfying for the McDonald's team. We will continue to work hard to get back on top beginning in Toronto."

In the 2004 race here Bourdais led 75 of 84 laps as well as set the fastest race lap en route to victory from pole position. A duplicate weekend could enable him to regain the points lead from Paul Tracy, who vaulted one point ahead (128-127) of the Frenchman with his win from pole in the previous race in Cleveland while Bourdais finished fifth. Bourdais hopes the look of this year's race will be similar to the other event he ran here in McDonald's colors.

"We've had two very different races in Toronto," said Bourdais. "McDonald's wasn't involved with us the first season in Toronto and we didn't really succeed all that well there. We finished fifth; we had a tough day, it was just difficult. Last year we had a great event; we unloaded the McDonald's car and it was balanced and I was feeling comfortable. We were flying all weekend and the McDonald's car won the race and it was my first street course win so I was very happy with the things went last year.

In addition to having had four different winners in five races so far this season, there have been four different drivers to have started from pole. Qualifying could well be the key to victory in Sunday's 88-lap event as the driver that has won the pole in each of the last three years has gone on to win the race (Cristiano da Matta, 2002; Paul Tracy, 2003; Sebastien Bourdais, 2004). In fact qualifying success has been a sign of even bigger things than a race win as the last four Toronto pole sitters have gone on to claim the series championship in that same season. Bourdais earned eight poles in 2004 and feels that starting from the front helps reduce the chance of getting caught up in accidents and therefore help your title bid.

"Last year there was lots of devastation going on behind me on track," explained Bourdais of the seven caution periods that came out. "It was crazy; I don't know what happened. I guess everybody got really excited. It was the first time with Ford's Push to Pass button in Toronto with the big back straight and everybody was trying hard, perhaps a bit too hard, and it put on a really awesome show for the fans but a lot of cars were stuffed in the walls for sure."

Spaniard Oriol Servia, 30, has settled into the PacifiCare program at NHR and has earned two third-place podium finishes in three races with the team to date. Buoyed by a team devoted to obtaining the best results possible every session on track, Servia is looking forward to continuing the parity in the series and become the fifth different winner this season.

"I've always like racing in Toronto and this year I am expecting great things with the PacifiCare team," said Servia, who will make his fifth start in Toronto. "In three races with Newman/Haas we have been able to put the PacifiCare car on the podium twice and hopefully we will be able to win soon. I have always liked street races. The Toronto race is always an exciting one because it's easy for the drivers to make mistakes. There are a couple of really good overtaking places where too many things usually happen so we just have to be smart and cool and I'm sure we're going to have a good race."

The Toronto event is the longest-running non-U.S. event on the Champ Car calendar and has been one of the most popular on the schedule for the series since the inaugural race in 1986. In the previous 19 events here, NHR has won seven races (Bourdais 2004; da Matta 2002; Michael Andretti 2000, 1995, 1992, 1991, 1989), three poles (Bourdais 2004, da Matta 2002, Mi. Andretti 1991) and finished on the podium 14 times. The 11-turn course provides challenges for drivers and engineers alike due to two different types of surfaces but Servia is confident that the PacifiCare car will be fast.

"The Toronto track is a good combination of some fast turns, slower corners and hard-braking areas where a lot of overtaking happens," said Servia, whose best finish of fifth place came in 2003. "It's very challenging for engineers because it's quite slippery in some of the corners so you need a car with very good grip. You need a good car overall, you're not going to be fast by luck in Toronto and that's why I feel very confident with Newman/Haas there."

Servia's current rank of seventh place in the point standings matches his best year-end finish in 2003. He has amassed 79 points so far this season and is only 49 behind current leader Paul Tracy's 128 after Round 5 of 14. A top five rank is within reach as he is only three points out of the top five in the standings and a good finish here could improve his position.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, #1 McDonald'sFord-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

IN TORONTO: Will be his third race here. Won from pole here last year after leading 75 laps and setting the fastest race lap. Started sixth and finished fourth in rookie season.

SECOND IN 2005 CCWS STANDINGS: Ended a series active record for most top-three starts at 15 with his fourth place qualifying effort at the season-opener in Long Beach but led a total of 37 laps and drove to victory in an exciting race that had seven different leaders...Was fastest on Friday and Saturday's qualifying in Monterrey, Mexico, and led the first 17 laps but contact with Paul Tracy while attempting to pass him caused an extra pit stop to replace his flat tire and ultimately limited his finish to fifth place. Started sixth on the one-mile oval in Milwaukee and was in podium contention when he exceeded the speed limit (55 in a 50) on his last stop and dropped to a sixth place finish to regain the points lead with 77 over second place Justin Wilson, 70...Started fifth in Portland after losing his fastest laps in Friday and Saturday's qualifying sessions. Finished second in the event after having led seven laps to increase his points lead over second place to 11 over Tracy's. Started third and finished fifth and lost the points lead to Tracy who won from pole. Has 127 points to Tracy's 128 after Round 5/14.

Sebastien Bourdais, #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

"We've had two very different races in Toronto. McDonald's wasn't involved with us the first season in Toronto and we didn't really succeed all that well there. We finished fifth; we had a tough day, it was just difficult. Last year we had a great event; we unloaded the McDonald's car and it was balanced and I was feeling comfortable. We were flying all weekend and the McDonald's car won the race and it was my first street course win so I was very happy with the things went last year. Last year there was lots of devastation going on behind me on track. It was crazy; I don't know what happened. I guess everybody got really excited. It was the first time with Ford's Push to Pass button in Toronto with the big back straight and everybody was trying hard, perhaps a bit too hard, and it put on a really awesome show for the fans but a lot of cars were stuffed in the walls for sure.

"The season has been so-so, so far. We had an okay start to the season. We had an okay pace in Long Beach but we marched forward and the race came to us and we got a nice win for Newman/Haas after not winning there for 18 years. We had the speed in Mexico and then had a bit of ups and downs throughout the race. We really deserved to win this year after running so well all weekend but at least having a Newman/Haas car win with Bruno was good. Then in Milwaukee we had a good race going but I made a mistake and it limited our finish. We had a brake failure and I didn't pump the brakes entering the pits for the last stop and got a penalty for speeding. It was frustrating to give away more points after having run second. In Portland, we had a great race after a tough weekend. We had some setbacks on Friday and Saturday with losing our best lap times but kept our heads down and kept working and ultimately we set the fastest race lap and got some important points for second place. When we got to Cleveland, it seemed that the competition got even tougher. We were in position for a podium finish but the race got away from us. Championship-wise it was an okay start but it is not really satisfying for the McDonald's team. We will continue to work hard to get back on top beginning in Toronto."

"I think the races in Canada are successful because the Canadian fans are really knowledgeable and they always show up in big numbers. It's always awesome. We've got three Canadian races. The Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal races were awesome. Now Edmonton is replacing Vancouver since we can't race there due to construction, and I'm sure it's going to be a great race too."

Oriol Servia, #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone:

"I've always like racing in Toronto and this year I am expecting great things with the PacifiCare team. In three races with Newman/Haas we have been able to put the PacifiCare car on the podium twice and hopefully we will be able to win soon. I have always liked street races. The Toronto race is always an exciting one because it's easy for the drivers to make mistakes. There are a couple of really good overtaking places where too many things usually happen so we just have to be smart and cool and I'm sure we're going to have a good race."

"The Toronto track is a good combination of some fast turns, slower corners and hard-braking areas where a lot of overtaking happens. It's very challenging for engineers because it's quite slippery in some of the corners so you need a car with very good grip. You need a good car overall, you're not going to be fast by luck in Toronto and that's why I feel very confident with Newman/Haas there.

"The Canadian fans really like racing and they don't have as many opportunities to go to the races so when we go there it's really a big party and they really enjoy the event. It's a fantastic event for everybody. For sure it helps that there are Canadian drivers in the series when we go to Canada or Mexican drivers when we go to Mexico or drivers from Barcelona if one day we go to Barcelona."

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Sébastien Bourdais , Cristiano da Matta