GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND PRESENTED BY U.S. BANKS PRE-EVENT DRIVER QUOTES Sebastien Bourdais, ...
GRAND PRIX OF CLEVELAND PRESENTED BY U.S. BANKS PRE-EVENT DRIVER QUOTES
Sebastien Bourdais, #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "We had a perfect car in Cleveland in 2003 and we got our first win for McDonald's car in their first race with us. It was the first time really that year that I could say before the race started that I didn't think we could lose the race. At the start I knew the only way to make it safe through Turn 1 was to just lock the inside and deal with whatever we were going to lose in terms of positions on the exit of the turn. We did that and gave up the lead to Paul (Tracy) and then passed him back on track and it was one of the best races I had in 2003. Last year it was obviously a different weekend, we were not looking so strong. The balance of the McDonald's car was not good, I had too much understeer and we qualified third and I think that was the place where we should have finished but there was a big incident at the start with (Alex) Tagliani, (Paul) Tracy and Justin (Wilson) and we took the lead and never gave it up the rest of the race. We had our lucky weekend last year in Cleveland. I think the officials might have another approach for the start this year, so we'll see how it goes. Maybe if they just try to narrow the track a little and limit the temptation to gain a bunch of positions on the start. Everybody knows that if the leader stays on the left side of the track, everybody is going to go to the right and many cars do that. You end up with 10 drivers shooting for the same apex and we know that doesn't work for everyone. Hopefully the McDonald's team will have a safe start and stay up front."
Paul Tracy #3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "Cleveland is always a fun race. It's exciting race for the fans since it's one of the only road courses where you can see everything from the grandstands. I've had good results there over the last couple of years, including last year when I got pole but then got taken out in the first corner; that was a bit rough. But it's a great place for a Champ Car, and coming off a win in Milwaukee and a podium finish in Portland I'm really looking forward to it."
Cristiano da Matta, #21 Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: ""Obviously, coming off the win in Portland I am very excited about going to Cleveland. After such a good result the whole PKV Racing team has a boost of confidence that the hard work we have been doing is the right thing. For me and the team it is so good when you know that the work you are doing is taking you in the right direction. Of all the tracks I have raced on Cleveland is one of my top-three favorites in the whole world. I just wish we could race there at least twice a year. Cleveland is a different kind of track and different to race on. The track is bumpy, especially on the straightaway and the corners are very fast and flowing. You have a lot of different lines you can take, but you can get into a nice driving rhythm. It is a track that getting the setup right is a big challenge. It is also a track that you can pass on so it is exciting for both the drivers and the fans. I am looking forward to the race in Cleveland. PKV Racing is very confident and I expect to do well."
Mario Dominguez #7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "It's a good race track, I quite like it. The Forsythe Team always has fast cars there so I'm looking forward to driving the blue and white car there for the first time. It's really one of my favorite circuits because I tend to do well if car is good. Plus, it's very good for the fans with the great visibility."
Jimmy Vasser #12 Gulfstream PKV Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "Cleveland is always a fantastic race. The track is bumpy which also makes it challenging from the driver point of view, but there are some really good corners for passing and that makes for an exciting race. The PKV Racing team has a lot of confidence right now after the win in Portland and we are looking forward to the Cleveland race. We know we still have a lot of work to do if we are going to contend for the championship, but I feel that we are headed in the right direction. The good thing is that we have back to back races so, hopefully, we can build on the momentum we have from Portland."
Andrew Ranger, #27 Tide/Mi-Jack Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: ""I was pretty fast at Cleveland last year in my Atlantic car, and I am looking forward to being on this track in a Champ Car this weekend. I like the track because there is a lot of room to take different lines through the corners and it's a very fast track. I have been training hard to be in shape for the race because it is a tough track."
Timo Glock #8 DHL Global Mail Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone
"This weekend will be a difficult one for me. I will first have to learn the track and then try to find the right setup for the DHL Global Mail car. We definitely do not want a repeat of Portland, so we have to find a way to get the right set up to be able to be competitive in Cleveland. My engineer, David Watson, has a lot of experience at this track, as does my team, Rocketsports, who did well here last year finishing on the podium. I am looking forward to racing here, despite my rookie status, because I hear that it is a very quick track and that it is very nice and fun to drive."
Oriol Servia, #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "I'm really looking forward to the race this year because I know I can do a good job in the PacifiCare car. Cleveland has been good to me, I love the track. I was on pole in Indy Lights and I just like racing in Cleveland. It's such a combination of fast chicanes and fast corners and it's a little bumpy but even the bumps make it nice because it makes it a little more challenging. It also makes for very good racing and overtaking as I did last year. I didn't have such a good qualifying, I was 13th on the grid but after the first corner I was fourth. Then I moved up to third but we had a little incident in the pit stop and we finished fourth but it was a great race. You have to approach Turn 1 at the start the same way whether you are P1 or P13, which is the smart way. Last year I moved up to fourth but I didn't try anything crazy, I just saw an opportunity and took it but it was not like a huge crazy move. It's one of those tracks that you have to use the mirrors a lot because people tend to be a little optimistic and you could be run over if you're not careful. But at the same time, it's racing and you've got to do what you have to do. Luck plays a little bit in the race so we hope it's going to be on our side. It's a great track for the fans and that's why I think they are so good in Cleveland and come back year after year. It's like an oval because you can see all the corners and all the overtaking that happens. It's a good track for the fans because they can sit down somewhere and see the whole race."
Ronnie Bremer (#55 HVM Inc. Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I ran pretty good there last year in Atlantics, I qualified third. HVM had a good setup there last year and I am sure they will again this year. I see no reason why we can't have a great result there this year. Hopefully I will be feeling all healed from the tough weekend we had at Portland, I am still pretty sore but definitely on the mend. I am at the shop in Indianapolis this week, getting lots of rest and preparing for Cleveland with my team. I need to get a strong qualifying result so that we can start finish in the top five rather than the top eight. We have made a lot of progress, but we need to be in the top five, so that is certainly my goal for Cleveland and as we go forward."
Alex Tagliani #15 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "After last weekend's engine problems at Portland I am looking forward to getting back on track in Cleveland. The venue has been good to me, especially last year when I finished on the podium. I think the only time I have been out of the top 10 was in my first race in 2000. I think Aussie Vineyards Team Australia is developing more every race and is starting to get more out of the Lola chassis which most of the team is working with for the first time. Our qualifying this season has been solid considering we are only four races old as a team and I am confident we can turn that into results with a bit of luck on our side in Cleveland."
Bjorn Wirdheim #4 HVM Inc. Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "I've heard a lot about Cleveland and I've heard it is a fast circuit. I prefer fast aggressive circuits to the slower technical circuits. I think the Burke Lakefront airport will be more difficult to learn than Portland for example, because it is wider. I will watch the drivers who have been there before and watch the tapes to learn the lines. I am especially motivated because of what happened in Portland where we had a very good racecar, but the electronic problems we had early in the race kept us from fighting for the positions. We are making progress every race weekend, we had a really good race pace in Portland, unfortunately the circuit was slower on Saturday or I could have qualified better. I've had a look at the weather and it looks like it will be a nice warm weekend in Cleveland without the threat of rain so that is really good news for me especially as I need to maximize each session to learn the circuit and setup the car as quickly as possible."
Ryan Hunter-Reay #31 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone
"Cleveland is one of my favorite tracks; it's like something out of a video game. I had a flag-to-flag win here in Atlantics in 2002 so the track holds good memories for me. It is a very fast track, made up of airport runways; this makes for fast straights and pretty bumpy corners, with a lot of overtaking opportunities. The circuit is probably best-known for the start into the hairpin which can be a bit of a tight squeeze as the front guys found out last year!"
Nelson Philippe #34 Wellbox Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "I enjoy the track in Cleveland, it's big, very fast and again we are going to a very physically demanding track. I hope I will be felling better with my right foot. It's beautiful to race at the airport, you can see the whole track and the boats by the water, it's quite unique."
Marcus Marshall #5 Aussie Vineyards Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone: "I will certainly be looking at the video tape this week and studying it pretty hard. I have seen the race on TV and it is quite open and fast, but I will definitely be having a closer look before I arrive in town. I actually want to arrive at least a day earlier so I can walk the track a few times and really become familiar with it. I have plenty of data to look at after last weekend's race in Portland, which probably should have produced a better result than 14th. I might also have the chance to drop into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and check out some great Australian inductees including AC/DC. As one of their famed songs says -- 'It's a long way to the top if you want to Rock and Roll'."