CHAMPCAR/CART: Cleveland: Top-three Thursday night press conference

Top three transcript from the first nighttime CART Champ Car practice session at the U.S. Bank Presents the Cleveland Grand Prix with Sebastien Bourdais, Bruno Junqueira and Oriol Servia. Eric Mauk: Thank you for coming. We just wanted to bring...

Top three transcript from the first nighttime
CART Champ Car practice session at
the U.S. Bank Presents the Cleveland Grand Prix with
Sebastien Bourdais, Bruno Junqueira and Oriol Servia.

Eric Mauk: Thank you for coming. We just wanted to bring in the top three finishers from tonight's practice, give you a chance to talk to the guys after their first night runs here at Cleveland Burke Lakefront Airport in advance of the U.S. Bank Presents the Cleveland Grand Prix. Third fastest in tonight's night practice, driver of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Oriol Servia, ran the third fastest time tonight with a lap of 59.039 seconds, 128.417 miles per hour. Oriol, tell us about your experiences out there. What did you think?

Oriol Servia: I think, first, as I was saying, I mean, it's fun. You're behind a car, you see sparks, you see the brakes glowing red, and everything, and you feel part of something cool. It's cool. I think you need to improve the lights a bit. You know, was the first time out there. You need to improve a little bit because there were a couple corners that you couldn't see much, I mean you couldn't see perfect, say it that way.

Milwaukee for us, it felt like daylight. You could see no problems. Here you were feeling every lap, like there's something not right. So they just need to work on it. Apart from that, the Visteon Patrick Racing team gave me a good car today. We're struggling a little bit on new tires. Like I go quicker every time on old tires. I don't know why. We need to improve that in order to improve our position tomorrow in qualifying, obviously. But I'm happy with the car for the race because it's definitely quick on old tires.

Eric Mauk: We're going to qualify tomorrow in the evening. You're going to race in the evening. Did you guys work qualifying setup or race setup tonight?

Oriol Servia: Right now we're just trying to make the car quick. Obviously, more towards the qualifying setup. But I don't think it's a very different car actually. Just a few, but not too different.

Eric Mauk: Good luck tomorrow. What they're going to do with the lights tonight, they put the lights on the backstretch up late last night because the airport was still alive for most of the day yesterday. So this was their first run with the lights, as well. They're obviously going to spend some time this evening tweaking that and filling in some spots, which is one of the reasons why we ran the first qualifying session during the day today so that wouldn't be a major problem. That's why we gave extra night practice tonight.

Second fastest in the evening session, driver of the #1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Bruno Junqueira. Bruno turned a lap of 58.629 seconds, 129.315 miles per hour to run second in the session after only getting to run five laps in the opening qualifying session with some gearbox problems. Bruno, how did you feel about things out there?

Bruno Junqueira: I feel good. We were fast in the first practice this morning. The car was really good, especially on the heat of the day. And I was pretty confident for qualifying. Unfortunately, on my second lap, my gearbox broke. I think I had a good shot for the pole today. But I think all the PacifiCare crew did a very good job. They changed the gearbox and prepared the car for the night's practice. We were slow a little bit early on in the night practice because the handling of the car was really different from when it was really hot. But then we made some improvements and we could do a fast lap in the end.

Eric Mauk: You were fastest in morning practice. You guys both went out, you and your teammate, Sebastien, put those quick laps up at the very end. Did you slap on stickers, make a qualifying-type run? Where did those times come from at the end?

Bruno Junqueira: Yeah, I ran stickers that I didn't run in the first session. I think on the first session, I think everyone ran stickers, and I think I was like sixth or seventh. I decided to run the stickers at the end of the session. I didn't run two sets of stickers in qualifying, as well. I have plenty of new tires. But I struggled a little bit on the first laps, and I spun because of the lights. You get used to when you know where to turning and other things. I just miss the apex, get on the dirt, ended up spinning.

But I was talking with the CART officials. I think if they can schedule some change, it would be cool. Like it's pretty nice to run at night, it's a good thing for the fans, and a very good thing for the drivers because during the day it's really hot. I remember last year in the race here was really hot, really long race. We are glad it's going to be a little bit cooler.

Eric Mauk: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow. Tonight's quick time in the nighttime session belongs to Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #2 McDonald's/Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. Sebastien, who finished third in provisional qualifying, put up the best time of the night with a lap of 58.569, 129.447 miles per hour. Coming back late in the session to put up the top time after spending time behind the wall after an early session incident. Tell us a little about what happened in the early session, Sebastien.

Sebastien Bourdais: Yeah, we didn't quite get done what we were expecting to. We got a problem with the wire connecting with the pit limiter at the end of the first session. It was a bit cut and the wire was getting hot on and off by his own. We had the pit limiter engaging, which is a bit of a problem when you go back and forth obviously. So we had to replace that. We lost very little time because it's a lot to of work to change, and I have to thank the crew for that because they did a great job. We just lost 10 minutes, so it was okay.

After restarting, I don't know what I did, but it's just that I completely forgot to brake at the quick chicane, I went kind of straight. I said, "Okay, it's going to be fine." Yeah, fine. Just there is kind of a dip, and I just completely flew in the air with the car and broke completely the front wing. So it was a bit of a shame. Destroyed the set of tires, so was not great. But even so, doing 14 laps in the second session, I achieved a good lap time at the very end with new tires, obviously. Yeah, I think the McDonald crew did a great job and I think we have a right setup for the qualifying session, so it should be okay for tomorrow.

Eric Mauk: You went quicker tonight than you did in the qualifying session this afternoon. When you look at tomorrow, the qualifying session starts, there's still going to be some light, probably will start at 8:40, the sun won't be quite down yet. Later in the session, it will be dark. Do you come out early in tomorrow's qualifying session or do you wait a while?

Sebastien Bourdais: No, we're going to wait for sure. We're going to wait. The track will be cooler. I didn't have much of a problem, so the fact that it was a bit darker, I think I have run in way more difficult positions than that in the 24 Hours of Le Mans and different races I did. When the lights are not well-adjusted and there's no lights on the track, it's kind of brilliant, I can tell you, to compare with what I've had the opportunity to drive sometimes by night. So it's just fine.

Eric Mauk: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow. We'll take some questions from the media.

Q: Sebastien, in general, you've adapted to these tracks pretty well. In particular, you seem to adapt to the night well. You had raced open-wheel. Is this your first time running at night after Milwaukee? What do you think about your quick adaptation?

Sebastien Bourdais: I think most of that is due to the car. I mean, Bruno and I are very quick. So is no doubt about the fact that the car is very good, and that Newman/Haas did a great job again. I think it's a kind of practice, I like pretty much to be in that kind of conditions about the lights. I think from the inside, it looks like it's going way quicker, and I like very much this feeling. And I don't have a lot of problem to get some references when it's kind of changing a bit darker, a bit brighter. It even gives me sometime a kind of reference because, you know, you have some bright points, and it's just giving you some spots that you can refer on. And actually the track is so big and so wide, if you can take it by the right way, it can be a help.

Q: Oriol, you mentioned in particular about the lack of lighting. Is there a particular point, the corner at the far end?

Oriol Servia: The darker part, it's turn seven, I think.

Q: What needs to be done with the lights?

Bruno Junqueira: As Oriol just said, the only part maybe they can readjust the lights like on turn seven. But I think more important than that, I think like racing to the left chicane, we kind of lost our braking point. Then is good to put different colors of cones or one cone bigger pretty much wherever we brake, because then you can have a new reference. At least me, some corners, like turn one, you have the cones that you see, all the corners you have like a reference. But the last corner, my reference is very often the asphalt. Now the asphalt is completely dark and you don't know exactly the line.

Oriol Servia: I actually remember in the past, they had colored cones.

Bruno Junqueira: I asked before the session. They did not do it. I don't know why.

Sebastien Bourdais: I think also the panels, one, two, three, four, five, are very high. If you look high you just look into the lights so you kind of lose your vision. If these panels could be on the ground, it would be I think better.

Bruno Junqueira: For sure need to talk with the stewards. I hope they do what you tell them to do because you be important to improve a little bit because a lot of cars went out of the track on this session, more than usual. And I don't know why, but I think if improve, can be good for us. I'm a hundred percent sure it's going to be great for the fans, for everybody, you know. Even for us going to be better because going to be cooler on the race, the tire degradation will be less, the race basically will be faster and it's not going to be that hot. It's just a matter to set up the lights and the cones and those things to make our life a little bit easier.

Eric Mauk: Might have just been one of those days. We probably had 10 different guys go off in that opening session this morning. A lot of dust on the track. A lot of guys went off this morning, as well as tonight. Any more questions? No, I have one left for Oriol, the spin that Patrick had in front of you in front of turn one, turn two, you came around the front of his car, was that as close as it looked on TV?

Oriol Servia: I didn't understand a word. Maybe it's bedtime or something (laughter). Honestly, I didn't understand what you meant, sorry.

Bruno Junqueira: Patrick Carpentier.

Oriol Servia: Oh, Patrick. I thought you were saying Pat Patrick. He isn't here today. I will get Bruno to translate English for me (laughter). No, it is quite wide there and you are coming through there pretty slowly so it wasn't bad.

Bruno Junqueira: It's my brilliant accent.

Oriol Servia: He was a bit close. Patrick Carpentier was close. But, no, it's the slowest corner on the track, so apart from the start, you can actually avoid if a car stop in front of you.

Eric Mauk: On that note I think we'll call it an evening, Ladies and Gentlemen. Back on track 2:45 tomorrow, final qualifying at 8:20.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Oriol Servia , Sébastien Bourdais