CHAMPCAR/CART: Unser III, Brooks, Servia transcript, part 3

Continued from part 2 ERIC MAUK: We'll move on to the Champ Car World Series portion of today's call and welcome in Oriol Servia, the new driver of the driver of the ...

Continued from part 2

ERIC MAUK: We'll move on to the Champ Car World Series portion of today's call and welcome in Oriol Servia, the new driver of the driver of the #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing. Oriol is a six-year veteran of the Champ Cars, has finished in the top 10 in the season's final point standings in each of the last two seasons. He takes over the #2 car for the injured Bruno Junqueira, who as you know was injured in an accident not of his making in the Indianapolis 500. Oriol took over the car two weeks ago at the Milwaukee Mile, qualified sixth and ran it to a third-place finish, earning the sixth podium of his career.

Oriol, thank you very much for joining us today.

ORIOL SERVIA: Hello, everybody. I'm really glad to be here.

ERIC MAUK: Oriol, tell us a little bit about how you have been affected by what's happened. Obviously, it's made a very important career move for you. Tell us a little about your thought process, how you attack taking on this new challenge.

ORIOL SERVIA: Well, I mean, when the opportunity arose just before Milwaukee, I honestly didn't think twice. I mean, I've been in the series for a while, working really hard to get an opportunity to go on a good car. When it happened just before Milwaukee, for sure I had no doubt that I had to take it.

I mean, at that point was just one-race deal. I knew was kind of risky because obviously in one race, an oval, anything can happen. You can be involved in a crash, your fault or not your fault, and the weekend's over. So the season could have turned in a very different way.

But again, you know, just the opportunity to be able to work on such a team, I really felt that that was the thing to do. Lucky enough I did a good job and finished third and everything worked out well. Gave the team enough confidence to hire me for the rest of the season until Bruno is back. So right now I couldn't be happier. I have the opportunity I've been looking for for a long time, and I am really getting prepared and ready for the upcoming challenges. So Portland will be the first one.

ERIC MAUK: Oriol is tied for sixth in the season championship after running his first two races of the year with Dale Coyne Racing, then getting the podium finish with Newman/Haas in Milwaukee. Let's talk about Portland International Raceway a bit. You have four Champ Car starts there, three top 10s in those four starts, finishing fifth back in 2003. Tell us a little about your thoughts on the racetrack there in Portland.

ORIOL SERVIA: I honestly have mixed feelings about the racetrack. I had my success and bad races, too. I was actually in pole position in Indy Lights there, and I think broke the track record. So was pretty good. We were pretty fast. And then in 2000, in my first Champ Car year, I qualified seventh, but I was the first Toyota. I qualified Montoya, da Matta, Vasser. I've been good there, although it's a racetrack that I feel it's very easy to overdrive the car. You know, you can get easily too excited and instead of gain time, lose time trying to try a little too hard.

So me going on the Newman/Haas car for the first time in a road course, I can see myself wanting to do a little too much, and that's not the track where you want to do it. So I'm just trying to really attack the weekend but in a right way, in a cool way, just doing the best job I can out there every time and getting used to the car and to the team step by step.

ERIC MAUK: We're all very excited for you and for this opportunity. Now we'll go ahead and open it up to questions for the media.

Q: Taking the seat, this is a championship team, a team that has won many championships in the Champ Car World Series, what kind of pressures off the track not just to win but have you faced or is that even a factor?

ORIOL SERVIA: Honestly, I mean, of course there's more pressure, you know, when you are the top team. I step in the PacifiCare car that was leading the championship, so obviously you have more pressure than when you are on the smallest team out there. But that's the reason why they are leading, you know, they just do everything a little bit better or a lot better than everybody else.

So for the driver, is actually everything is easier. I mean, obviously you have higher expectations, but your work, everything is just a lot better prepared from the setup to the strategy to the race to the car itself to the cockpit, to the communication with the team, engineers. Everything is just -- you know, everyone's put a lot of thought into everything, so it's just an easier process for everybody. So, of course, there's more pressure, but it's just such a pleasure to be in that environment and I'm just really enjoying it so far.

Q: What are you looking forward to the rest of the season? You're now sixth in the points. Where can you finish in a somewhat shortened season for you if Bruno gets back before the end of the season?

ORIOL SERVIA: Well, we're not starting in a bad spot. Sixth is not too bad. Plus we're not too far off in points itself. I mean, I don't know. I really -- I'm not setting up any goals towards finishing in any position in the championship, A, because first of all we don't know when Bruno's going to be ready. Obviously we hope he's going to be ready soon just for his own health. You know, they say could be between four and six months. But I wouldn't be surprised if it's sooner than that because I've seen many sportsmen, especially in good shape like Bruno, to recover a lot faster than anybody expected.

So, you know, I'm just going to try to do the best job I can on the track, off the track, every weekend that comes along, and hope that I do such a great job that it's taking into account for my future, whether it's Newman/Haas or any other team. So it doesn't really change much. I'm just trying to do the best job possible, obviously try to win as many races as I can, and try to win the championship with Sebastien.

Q: What have Brian Lisles and Don Hoevel has been telling you about what they want you to do with this car? Your style isn't the same as Bruno's. Your setup may not be the same. No doubt they want to give you the car you want. It obviously worked at Milwaukee. What are they telling you about what you can do with this thing?

ORIOL SERVIA: I mean, the attitude of the team from the minute I got into the shop, it's been extremely supportive. I'm Oriol Servia, I'm nobody compared to Newman/Haas and all the people that have been there forever with all the success they've had. But they really give you the greatest support. You know, they listen to what you say. You know, if they think what you say it's not sensible idea, for sure they have an open mind and listen to it.

But I am listening them a lot more I hope than they're listening to me. You know, they've proven that they are very successful, so I'm just there to learn and do the best I can. And from the setup point of view, we haven't been able to test anywhere yet. And the race this week isn't an oval, so it's a completely different stuff. We don't really know how will the car suit me. But, you know, they finished 1 and 2 last year in Portland, so it's obviously a good car. I hope it suits me, and if not I'll make it work, if you know what I mean.

Q: It was obvious that Dale Coyne was not too happy with the way the thing went down. He was kind of left out of the loop when it happened. I'm wondering if you're feeling kind of bad about the way it went down on the other side of the deal?

ORIOL SERVIA: Well, actually the thing with Dale, you know, it wasn't -- it could have been a little better for him just because everything happened like two days before the race weekend. That's the only part that I would have liked to happen different. But he's actually -- he has no problem with the situation at all. Basically the way we work last year and the way we work this year, we didn't have even a contract, a verbal agreement or even a handshake for the next race. We both knew what the situation was. If an opportunity would arise for me, I was going to take it.

So, you know, it's just a question that everything happened in a rush, and he didn't have much time to find a solution for Milwaukee. But we both knew the situation beforehand. You know, obviously if these things happen, it's always in a rush. I think we both kind of knew it was going to happen, it was going to be that way. But he's actually very happy for me and the opportunity that just happened to me.

Q: The formal announcement of your deal was last Friday. Can you take us through what you did after Milwaukee? Were you sitting on your cell phone waiting for the call? What was that week like while you were waiting for the decision?

ORIOL SERVIA: Well, you know, the way I went to Milwaukee, I took an approach of, hey, I'm just going to go there and enjoy every second I have to work with that team and, you know, do the best I can. The race was good. The result was good. Obviously you never know until you know, right, until you get the call? But I felt happy with the team and I think the team was happy with me. So I didn't see why they wouldn't hire me for the future.

I don't know. I was kind of confident. I got the phone call. I went to see Mr. Haas up in Chicago. We had a very nice meeting and we both agreed to continue until Bruno came back. It wasn't that big of a deal. I mean, I was obviously very, very excited to be able to know that I'm going to be able to pace myself and get used to everything and get the best out of it and not just one-race shot like Milwaukee.

We were lucky that everything went well. As we all know, in one-race deal, everything can go wrong. Even the best driver, the best team and best scenario, you can still have bad luck. So I was glad that didn't happen in Milwaukee and we're going to have a longer-term time to work together.

Q: You mentioned testing. Have you gotten that far in terms of the plans for the coming weeks? Two races back-to-back with Portland and Cleveland. Is there any sort of little longer term for you to test or haven't you got that far yet?

ORIOL SERVIA: For sure I would love to spend more time in the car not only the race weekend. The race weekend, like here in Portland, tires are very important in the race and we're not -- nobody's going to run much I think Friday just to try to save tires. And in my case, I'd like to have as many laps as possible under my belt with this car. It's not going to be the case. So you want to try to have some testing between races and do more laps.

When I started the season with Dale Coyne, we didn't do much testing, so I have plenty days of testing. But Bruno did most of his testing with the Newman/Haas car. I think the way the rules are, it's about the car and not the driver, so I think I only have two, three days left with Newman/Haas. So, yeah, for sure we'll have a little bit of testing, but not as much as we'd like to.

Q: You'll be one of the few -- you didn't test as Portland, I believe, correct?

ORIOL SERVIA: Actually, we did. The only test we did.

Q: Your expectations must be pretty high at this point. Have you spoken to your good pal Bruno? Has he given you any advice?

ORIOL SERVIA: Actually Bruno is doing impressive. I went to see him Saturday. He's already in his house in Miami. We watched the F1 qualifying together of Montreal. You know, you knock on his door, he comes, himself opens the door. He walks, already sit down normal. I was very impressed how well he is already, you know. It's just a week, 10 days ago he got the surgery. So he's doing very well.

He is very supportive. He hopes I do the best I can in his car, you know, for the crew, for the team, for the PacifiCare people, for everybody. He feels bad that he's not in car, but from the first second he was very supportive with the idea of me driving his car until he gets back on it. I told him to go quick and recover quick because I'm feeling more and more comfortable in the car, and I'm not so sure I want to give it back to him later.

ERIC MAUK: We'll go ahead and wrap-up our Champ Car Toyota Atlantic media teleconference. Oriol, thank you very much for joining us today. We look forward to seeing you on track at Portland International Raceway June 17th through the 19th.

ORIOL SERVIA: Thank you very much. See you in Portland ready to rock'n roll.

ERIC MAUK: This concludes our teleconference. There is also a replay available to you. You can hear this in its entirety, broadcast quality, available through next week. You can get that replay by dialing 1-800.678.0756. Again, if you have any questions or anything we can help you with here at the Champ Car World Series, don't hesitate to call Champ Car Public Relations at 317.715.4100. Thank you for attending today and your support of the Champ Car World Series. Have a good day.


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About this article
Series Atlantic , IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Oriol Servia , Dale Coyne
Teams Dale Coyne Racing