CHAMPCAR/CART: Brands Hatch: Starting grid top-three press conference

Press Conference Transcript from the top three qualifiers for the London Champ Car Trophy. Bruno Junqueira, Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy Eric Mauk: We'll go ahead and get started for the top three finishers press conference, final ...

Press Conference Transcript from the top three qualifiers for the London Champ Car Trophy.
Bruno Junqueira, Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy

Eric Mauk: We'll go ahead and get started for the top three finishers press conference, final qualifying from round four of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Good afternoon. My name is Eric Mauk from CART communications.

Third on our starting grid for tomorrow's 165 lap race is Bruno Junqueira, driver of the #1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. He will grid third on the strength of yesterday's time of 37.022 seconds, 115.909 miles per hour. This will mark the third time in the year's four races that Bruno has started third on the grid. You've had good success after qualifying third. Tell us how you feel about the way things went today.

Bruno Junqueira: Today the morning didn't go well. We made some changes overnight. The car wasn't good this morning. We made a lot of change for qualifying. It was a little bit better, but still not as good a car as I had yesterday. Today was a little bit hotter, and that made a little bit of difference. Third is not what I would expect, but is a good starting place, better than other races that I had this year. Let's see if we can make some pressure on Paul Tracy and Sebastien.

Mauk: Congratulations and good luck tomorrow. Second on our grid by virtue of having the fastest time in today's qualifying session goes to Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #2 Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. Sebastien turned today's fastest lap with an effort of the 37.044 seconds, 115.841 miles per hour. Sebastien will start in the front row for the third time in his four races with Champ Car. He also earns a championship point winning today's session. Sebastien, congratulations. Tell us a little bit about your day.

Sebastien Bourdais: Actually it's a bit between satisfaction and frustration because I did my best lap time in the third lap. I was probably going to be quicker in the fourth. I was much, much quicker in turn one, because I had to up shift earlier and try to hold the steering wheel with my hand, but basically there was no way to do it, so I just lost the steering wheel. I just had to recover and just come back to the pit.

Mauk: Twice you've started on pole this year. This time you start outside pole. Does it change your approach in the first turn any?

Bourdais: No. I just say that this time I didn't wave the flag, which is probably the thing which was really, really bad for me. So this time Paul did, and he's probably going to do some bad things on his race. I don't know.

Mauk: Congratulations on your run. Good luck tomorrow. Our polesitter for the London Champ Car trophy is Paul Tracy, driver of the #3 Player's/Forsythe Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. He stood on yesterday's time of 37.006 seconds, 115.960 miles an hour, turned earn his first pole of the year and the 14th of his career. Paul earns his first pole position since the 2000 season when he topped qualifying at Michigan International Speedway. The pole also ties him with Bobby Unser and Juan Pablo Montoya for eighth on the all-time CART list. Paul, tell us a little bit behind your mindset on today's qualifying run. You only ran a lap or two before coming off.

Paul Tracy: I think I'm just relieved because we've had a good car all weekend and we feel that we could challenge to do it, but you have to sit there and wait and wait. And when I heard the time that Sebastien did on the last warm-up lap, I thought he's going to go in 36s without too much trouble, and then had some trouble. But, you know, ultimately we didn't have to go out and overextend ourselves and use the tires hard. I was able to just scrub the tire for the race. So I'm very happy to be on the pole.

It's been a long time since I was on the pole, a real long time since I was on the pole in a road course. So it's satisfying because I've been second a lot this year and second a few times last year. You just always missed out by just that little bit. So it's nice to finally be on pole.

Mauk: Are you surprised no one got into the 36s today?

Tracy: It was going to be difficult. Obviously, the track is much hotter today than yesterday. I think the track conditions were very good yesterday to go fast. Guys were still learning the circuit. I think the cars, if we had the conditions that we had yesterday today, we would probably be in the low 36s. But with the sun being out and the track temperature up, it makes the track more slippery, a little bit more difficult to drive. But, you know, I'm just happy that we can start on pole.

Mauk: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow. We'll open it up to questions.

Q: Sebastien, I'm not sure I quite understand. You got up on the rev limiter because you were going so fast, so you had to shift up, and you couldn't hold the steering wheel with one hand. Sounds like you were pretty busy.

Bourdais: Yeah, actually this track you are really busy. It's just that we had the good ratios for some speed, and we were not expecting to be much quicker, and we were. So I just had to do the job a bit harder. But basically I was a bit surprised, too, and I just didn't think enough about the decompression. It was just impossible.

Q: Will you change your ratios for tomorrow?

Bourdais: No, because it's going to be slower for tomorrow for the race and not new tires.

Q: Paul, have you figured out yet last time you were on pole?

Tracy: I don't remember either. It's been a long time. I've been second a lot of times, but I haven't had a lot of poles in my career for 14 now. I've never been a particularly fantastic qualifier. But, you know, it's nice to finally get another one on a road course. He'd probably be able to tell you sooner than I. I don't remember the last time I was on a pole on a road course.

Mauk: I'll tell you all later. It will be a secret, because I don't know at the moment. (1994, Laguna Seca) But I will be able to answer it later.

Q: Paul, for a variety of reasons it seems you kind of have gone into the last couple races where you end up with not really using up your sets of tires on Friday and Saturday going into the race. Can you talk about how that worked for you in the first couple races and how it might work tomorrow?

Tracy: Well, I mean, obviously it's something that everybody knows. I mean, that's what I've been doing, and I'm surprised a lot of people haven't caught on to it more because, you know, the most important thing that you can put on a car is a tire. So, again, today we were able to not run the tires hard, just take the shine off them. So I think that puts us in a good position for tomorrow. You know, ultimately the most important thing is the race day. And to be able to race hard and be aggressive, the tires are the most important thing on the car.

Q: Outside pole a better place to be tomorrow?

Bourdais: I have no particular idea, to be honest. Just for sure it's good to be on the front row. I just expect to drive a regular race tomorrow and don't get any trouble. So we'll see. I think Paul really wants to score points this year all the races, and I'm not going to challenge my life on the first corner.

Q: Are there any places to pass here?

Bourdais: I don't think so, to be very honest.

Q: Sounds like the strategy or based on the number of pit stops required, you're going to have to pit twice under green tomorrow. What about the tires? Are they going to last that length or would you prefer to have more stops and have fresher tires?

Tracy: I guess that's the million dollar question. We don't know how long the tires are going to last here. I ran tires this morning for about 65 laps, and the cords were showing. It's a 160-lap race, so that doesn't equate to the number. It all depends on what happens. Another issue is the fuel mileage. Can you do the fuel mileage to do two stops, as well? The pace will be slower. Obviously, you know, so we'll just have to wait and see.

Q: Congratulations on Driver of the Year, quarter. I know you got the award this morning. That's a lot of prestige for CART, out of all the drivers chosen. Can you talk a little bit about what that means?

Tracy: I think it means a lot. I think it means a lot for open-wheel racing, not only for Cristiano (da Matta) to win it last year, but in America to beat out, you know, in the fan polls who they feel is the best driver right now, to beat out NASCAR and Winston Cup is very difficult to do because the fan base for that is so much greater than open-wheel racing. So I guess people can appreciate what I'm doing and what the series is doing, what Champ Car is doing. It's getting recognized, so that's great.

Q: There's been some suggestions that Brands Hatch and Rockingham might alternate for the English race. How would you guys think of that?

Tracy: Fine. I mean, I don't have a problem with Rockingham. It was a good track. It's fast. And here, you know, I think ultimately if you talk to any driver here, I mean, this track is great and it's a lot of fun. It's challenging, very technically challenging to drive on. But I think ultimately we need to be on the long circuit. I think if you talk to any driver, you know, going around, looking at the long circuit, everybody's like, "Yeah, let's go on the long circuit." So I hope that's where we end up running at because I think we would like to show the European fans what our cars are capable of on a big track. You know, they've seen here on the short circuit that the cars are very quick and very agile, you know, a lot of fun to watch.

Junqueira: I think Rockingham is a great track, but the problem is luckily you could race there twice. But in England it rains a lot and it's safer to race at Brands Hatch. And here is a very, very nice track, very close to London, and I think easier for the fans to come watch us race.

Bourdais: I think pretty much the same as Paul. The big track would be really nice. But I think before to do that, we have to cut a few trees to make it safe. That was probably not possible for this year, but I hope we can do something really good for next year.

Mauk: Thank you, gentlemen. Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow. This concludes our press conference, Ladies and Gentlemen. Thank you all for coming. Tomorrow's 165-lap London Champ Car Trophy race begins at 2 p.m.

-cart-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya