Top three first-day qualifying press conference with Paul Tracy, Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais Eric Mauk: Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started for our top-three qualifiers press conference, first day of qualifying for ...
Top three first-day qualifying press conference
with Paul Tracy, Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais
Eric Mauk: Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started for our top-three qualifiers press conference, first day of qualifying for the Molson Indy Vancouver, round 11 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.
Right now we're joined by the top two qualifiers in today's session. We'll start with the second place qualifier in today's first round of qualifying, Bruno Junqueira, driver of the #1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, who put up a lap of 61.845 seconds, 103.672 miles per hour on his last timed lap of the session to move into the second spot. Bruno was the morning practice leader despite having problems in the first of the two sessions. Can you take us on what happened between the two practice sessions? 19th in the first one; you came out and led the second one.
Bruno Junqueira: Just ran wet weather tires in the morning session. The second session, the car was really good and fast as Tracy, two-hundredths faster than him, but I think four-tenths faster than the others. The PacifiCare car was really good. I was really confident. We came to qualify. Unfortunately, when I was put in first gear to get out of the pits, there was a red flag. Then there was a big mess with everybody on the track at the end of the session, and I couldn't get a clear lap. That's pretty much what's happened. It's unfortunate. I don't know, Tracy is now saying that someone was slow, but I was in a very good lap. About like turn six or turn seven, like in the middle of the track, I caught Tagliani and Tracy at 20 miles per hour. It was really bad. Took out my chances to improve. I'm a little disappointed on this side. But let's see. I think we should do something and see if we can change this qualifying format because it's not being very good.
Eric Mauk: That having been said, do you feel like you left something on the table, having a shot at pole in final qualifying tomorrow?
Bruno Junqueira: I don't know how qualifying will go tomorrow. I don't know how is going to be the track tomorrow. I hope we can improve the car, and the car can feel good. Today my car was really good, and I think I have a shot on the pole. I think me and Tracy were really close. I don't know. But when I have chance, I mean, I left it out on the table. Maybe Tracy left as well because all the red flags. But it's a little bit frustrating when you don't get a clear lap.
Eric Mauk: All three of our drivers here today that led the qualifying session all covered by a quarter of a second. We're now joined by the third best qualifier of the day, Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #2 McDonald's/Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, who turned a lap of 61.921 seconds, 103.545 miles per hour, to earn the third best time in the first day of qualifying. Sebastien is the rookie points leader, making his first Vancouver start in Sunday's event. Vancouver, first time around - what did you think?
Sebastien Bourdais: I think it's not different than the rest of the tracks that I didn't know before (laughter). I discover pretty much every track this year. It's a bit easier than Toronto because of the conditions we got this morning. I've been able to put more laps on dry conditions. I could go up still a bit earlier. I was about ready for the qualifying session. Unfortunately, as Bruno said, we got a red, then I only got one shot, with one set of tires. I was pretty happy with the car. As everybody, I think I got someone in one of my biggest lap. But it's pretty much always the same deal in a street course. It's as it is.
Eric Mauk: Same question to you as we gave to Bruno. You had a few laps left when the session ended. Do you feel you have a legitimate shot at pole tomorrow?
Paul Tracy: I think, for sure. I went out with 12 minutes to go, was the first time that I hit the track. I did a four-lap run. On my fourth lap, did the time on the first set of tires. Then there was a line of traffic in front of me and there was really no opportunity to do another lap. So we came in the pits and changed tires and went back out. I went right out into the middle of a group of traffic and was never able to do another lap, you know, within the time.
So that was pretty frustrating because we made a small change on the car, a wing change. I felt that we could improve on the time if we could have put four or five laps together. But every time I'd get going, there would be, you know, Adrian (Fernandez) and Jimmy (Vasser) kept backing up and backing up all the time. So I would back up. That's kind of how it is when you put everybody on the track with 10, 11 minutes to go. It's going to get like that.
Eric Mauk: For those of you that don't know, this is our qualifying session leader, Paul Tracy, driver of the #3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. He led today's qualifying with a lap of 61.706 seconds, 103.906 miles per hour. Earned a championship point to boost his total to 140 on the year, and guarantees himself a front row starting spot, marking the eighth time in 11 races this year that you started on the front row. Has it gotten to the point now where you get out of the trailer, on the track Tuesday, Wednesday, you know you have a shot to be on the front row every single week?
Paul Tracy: You know, it's always very difficult. But all the tracks that we're at right now, I've had good success at last year. We have a good setup from last year when I was with Team Green. This was a track last year that I was on the front row. I had a 17-second lead until we missed coming in the pits on that yellow. So this has always been a good track for me. You know, the confidence of the team is up. You know, I feel I'm driving well. After the last race, you know, we feel that we can have good results at every track from here on out.
Eric Mauk: Paul has two podium finishes in his last three Vancouver visits. We'll take questions.
Q: Paul, by my reckoning, that's five times this year you've been fastest on Friday. Of course that's five points. Has the rule change this year made you change your approach to Fridays? How is that taking care of you?
Paul Tracy: Well, I think, you know, for me and our team, we've got a good basic setup for most of the racetracks. I know the setup coming in and know the tracks coming in. You know, Sebastien has to learn the track on Friday. Bruno is in a new team, so he's not familiar maybe with the setup because he was with Target for the last couple years. So he's maybe not so familiar with the setup and has to learn a little bit. For us, I mean, that's our opportunity to try to capitalize on that because I know what to expect and whereabouts we're going to be at. We push pretty hard on Friday to try to achieve that. It allows us to, you know, really play out Saturday, a little more relaxed, not so hectic and so much pressure.
Q: Paul, in the pit lane immediately after the session, both Carl Haas and Paul Gentilozzi lodged verbal protests with John Anderson, claiming that you blocked. Apparently both teams are now doing written protests in the one-hour period. Any comment you can make from your point of view about those last few laps? You talked earlier about it. But in light of this, any particular comment?
Paul Tracy: No. I got blocked on my laps, but I'm not throwing protests around. And I don't complain. I've been doing this for 13 years. You know, that's the way the game is, you know. So what can I say? What goes around comes around. I've been blocked a hundred times -- hundreds of times over my career. That's just what happens.
Q: Paul, do you think really CART should make a very serious consideration of going to single-car qualifying? We have these issues everywhere - not just with you, but everybody seems to complain that everybody is getting blocked. Is the only solution to go to one-car qualifying?
Paul Tracy: Well, it's a suggestion. We did it at Brands Hatch. I think all the drivers enjoyed it. It gave a nice lead-up to the final few cars coming out on the track. It's entertaining for the fans. To be honest, if CART listened to a lot of the suggestions that people had for them, maybe they wouldn't be in the trouble they're in. So what can I say?
Q: Sebastien and Bruno, not so many years you've been away from Formula 3000. Did you have similar blocking problems in qualifying over in Europe?
Sebastien Bourdais: Yes. In Monaco, the track is longer, but it's even worse than that.
Bruno Junqueira: Yeah, what's happened, like in the road course, you don't have as much as a problem. Next weekend, like in Road America, I hope not. But when you go on a track like this, that's a street course, it's one-minute lap time, it kind of gets really difficult, you know. As I said, okay, Paul Tracy said, "Oh, I was blocked." Then what can I say? But it's kind of frustrating because halfway through the lap, you are already much, much faster, and you see the guy is very slow in front of you. I mean, to be fair, it's a difficult thing. What's in the rules? The guy that's slow have to let the other guys pass, you know. But then Tracy think, "Okay, if I let them pass, they going to get traffic, they going to slow down, as well." Is really frustrating. This time, I don't know about what Tracy say, but I didn't see the guys in front, you know. It was pretty early in the lap. Maybe he got traffic, but I think he back off too much. He let the guys go like 10 seconds because I could not even see the guys in front, Jimmy or Adrian. Then it's kind of difficult because if you space every car 10 seconds in a 60-second lap, you can keep just six cars on the racetrack, and you have maybe 19 the end of the session.
Eric Mauk: Thanks, gentlemen.