The Grand Prix of Monterey pre-race quoteboard. MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. ( ...
The Grand Prix of Monterey pre-race quoteboard.
MICHEL JOURDAIN JR. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "The night at Milwaukee was perfect. After Long Beach I thought I would never have as good a car again, but once the Milwaukee race began I found I had an even better car than at Long Beach. To take over the points lead is a testament to all the hard work the Gigante team is doing. I have had a great car every week and that has allowed us to be competitive on track and to put ourselves in position to qualify well and race at the front. Sitting on top of the points right now means just as much as leading lap 50 at Long Beach. It is nice to say you did that but it doesn't mean anything. The only time it really matters to be on top of the points is when you are driving out of Fontana after the race. Don't get me wrong it is better to be on top than behind at this point of the season, but I try not to get too excited about the points lead because we still have 13 races to go. We have to keep scoring points. Wins are great, but podium results are the key. If you look back over the years it isn't always the guy who wins the most races who wins the championship, but the driver who is on the podium the most. We will race to win every week, but I also realize that the championship is like a marathon and that you have to take the points when they are available."
PAUL TRACY (#3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "It's funny how things go sometimes. Early in my CART career, I won two years in a row (1993-94) at Laguna Seca, and the second win was from the pole. Then I finished second the year after that and I've only come close to getting back on the podium once since then. This track is tough on cars and drivers alike. Plenty of elevated areas, lots of twists and turns and, of course, The Corkscrew, which really shakes the cobwebs. I always look forward to the challenge of racing at Laguna because it's one of those tracks with a lot of history. Every year, I tell myself that I'm going to get back to my winning ways at Laguna, and maybe this is the year. There's no doubt we're all disappointed at Team Player's when we see that we now have to play catch-up in the drivers' standings. As competitive as this series is, you simply can't afford to have even the slightest slip-up because the points you lose are so hard to recover. Still, you can't sit around and mope and whine about your fate. We win as a team and we lose as a team. The important thing is to pull together and have one of those seamless rides like we had when we were winning races earlier in the season."
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I have raced at Laguna Seca twice and it's a very nice road course that has some fast corners. For sure the corkscrew is pretty exciting and challenging for the drivers and qualifying on that track is pretty nice - I love it! I really enjoy racing there. Last year I had a very good car and I finished fourth. I also had a good car the first year but the yellow flag situation didn't help me or many others much. I remember that last year I was very good there but not as fast as the Newman/Haas guys Cristiano and Christian but now I am going back in a Newman/Haas car and I think I will run much, much better and try to get the win. After setting the fastest lap time in the pre-season test as well as the fact that Cristiano won from pole there last year and Christian finished second makes me confident that the PacifiCare car will be good there on race weekend."
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (#2 Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I think Laguna Seca is a race track where I'm probably going to be quick because it's the only one so far that I will have had experience on before the race and also because it is more like a European track. I just enjoy that kind of road course but it's also going to be a tough race because Bruno is very quick on that type of course and I think that PT (Paul Tracy) and (Patrick) Carpentier were not so far back when we tested there and they were just discovering their cars. I think I will have a good car in my hands though and the Lilly team should have a good weekend."
PATRICK CARPENTIER (#32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "If you like thrill rides, you have to like making the tour of Laguna Seca. Racing on this track is a blast, especially when you're taking The Corkscrew at about 170 miles an hour. A lot of the turns are actually like hairpins, so they can be quite tricky. And there are some blind spots where you really have to be alert and careful. I hadn't had much success at Laguna until last year, when I was running fourth for quite a while before finishing fifth. Qualifying well is a big factor at Laguna because there aren't a lot of passing opportunities during the race. Pit strategy comes into play quite a bit. I'm happy to be leading the series for laps completed and being able to finish every race so far. That's a credit to Team Player's and the great job the crew has done to give me a reliable car every time out. We've been able to get closer to the podium in just about every race, so the key is to keep progressing and get that first race win of the season. Consistently being in the points, as we have, is one way to keep moving up in the standings, but you also have to pick up some wins if you're going to be a serious threat for the championship. It would be great to put up the first victory on a tough track like Laguna."
MARIO DOMINGUEZ (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm really looking forward to racing at Laguna Seca this week. I know this track well since I started my motor racing career here in the Formula Russell Mazda series. We had a good test at Laguna Seca back in January but we've done so much development on the car setups since then that I think we'll have an even quicker car now than we did at the test. It will be interesting to see how much we can improve! It's always great to come to Laguna Seca to race - the track itself is fantastic, there are a lot of CART enthusiasts in the area, the race always draws a big crowd and it's such a beautiful part of the country."
ORIOL SERVIA (#20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "Laguna Seca is a track I like very much. I have always enjoyed racing there because the track is very challenging and fun to drive. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team did its first test with the Lola in the winter at Laguna Seca. Since then we have developed our setup and are much more competitive, so I am looking forward to a good race. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team has had three good results in a row, which have put us back in the hunt for the championship. The engineering staff led by Steve Challis has consistently given me a good car and the crew has done a fantastic job. It is still very early in the season, so we cannot relax. We have to keep working hard and continue to produce top finishes."
ADRIAN FERNANDEZ (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "Michel [Jourdain] has won his first race; we are looking to do that as a team. I have won races but not as Fernandez Racing. We have a lot of guests coming to Laguna Seca and it would be fantastic to achieve our first win there. We are working very hard and we are very positive and have learned from our mistakes. We look forward to a good race at Laguna Seca. The track is challenging and it is unique with the elevation changes. It is a place that I enjoy driving. My dad will be there for Father's Day and his birthday so that will be good. We have a lot of fans in the area and it is always nice to go back to see a lot of friends and fans that have been with us for many years."
DARREN MANNING (#15 RAC/Walker Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Laguna Seca is so popular in Europe. It's very similar to a lot of the race tracks over there - very undulating, a lot of ups and downs, and obviously there's the famous Corkscrew. It's a race track that I remember from watching Champ Car races in the UK. I'd say it's probably going to be one of my favorite tracks this year really. It's certainly one I've been looking forward to. I'm looking forward to getting back on a proper road course circuit, and especially after tenth, sixth and fourth . . . first should be just around the corner."
ALEX TAGLIANI (#33 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "I'm looking forward to returning to Laguna. This part of California is so beautiful. Fans love to travel here and camp out over the weekend. It's a great track for spectators, especially at the Corkscrew. This is a very unusual road course as there are a lot of elevation changes. It is one of the more physical, and a difficult track in the series with the high G forces and fast corners, but that makes it even more of a challenge to drive."
JIMMY VASSER (#12 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Returning to my home track is always the highlight of the season for me. My memories of Laguna Seca extend all the way back to my childhood. I used to go there with my dad and that track is really what sparked my interest in road racing. On top of that, some of my greatest and most accomplished memories of my career came at Laguna Seca. I won my first big Formula Ford race there in the 80's, I won an Atlantic race there in 1997. In 1996 I clinched the series Championship at Laguna Seca, that was the same year that my good friend and teammate Alex (Zanardi) made "the pass" on (Bryan) Herta. The next year I won the race and Alex won the championship there, that was pretty cool. It is a special place with a lot of meaning for me. This year we are racing there on Father's Day, I always have a lot of friends and family at Laguna Seca, but this year it will be a little bit more special, hopefully, I can give my dad the trophy for Fathers Day."
ROBERTO MORENO (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone): "Well, first of all, I am looking forward to getting past the first lap at Laguna Seca! I think this has been the longest two weeks of my career waiting for the start of this race after going out so early at Milwaukee! But seriously, I really enjoy coming to Laguna Seca. The track itself, I think, was really the first "proper" racing circuit in the US, with lots of challenges for the drivers. It requires a very special way of setting up the car to go fast there because the car must be good at two or three different cornering speeds. So you are looking for a happy medium. It's very demanding; on the set up, on the equipment, and on the driver. We are going there I think with a very good starting point on the car. What is important for us now is to bring home some points and get back in the fight for the championship!"
MARIO HABERFELD (#34 Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "This is the first circuit we're going back to. We had a test there on January 25th and 26th, so I know this circuit. However, the car has changed a lot since then. We have a different setup and a different engineer. It is good to be back on a normal circuit instead of an oval. I'm really looking forward to the weekend."
TIAGO MONTEIRO (#7 Fittipaldi-Dingman Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Laguna Seca is obviously an amazing track. It's very demanding with its famous Corkscrew turn. I'm looking forward to the event. I heard it an amazing event with lots of fans. The team and Emerson have told me that from their experience they think I'm going to love the next two events. They think the tracks will suit my driving style with their long sweeping turns. With the car, we can be low and competitive. I'm really looking forward to getting to Laguna and seeing for myself."
RYAN HUNTER-REAY (#31 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "I love Laguna Seca, what an amazing racetrack. This is the race that I have anticipated more than any other. I won my first Atlantic race there last year, I won it from the pole position, it was an awesome weekend, definitely one of the best days of my life. A lot of my supporters are from the area, so it is especially rewarding for me to do well there, to give them a good result, so obviously I really look forward to returning. Racing around there in the Champ Car is going to be awesome, it is fast and it is technical, I can't wait, when you have a good car, this track is a driver's dream. I am working hard, the team is doing a great job, they have been working very hard and we are looking forward to rebounding there this weekend."
PATRICK LEMARIE (#27 PK Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) "I am very excited to go to Laguna Seca because I had such great results there in Atlantics (2nd place) and two years ago with Audi (3rd place). The relationship with (new PK Racing engineer) John Ward seems to be working well, and he knows the Laguna Seca track from his past Champ Car experience. We're looking forward to having a good weekend."
RODOLFO LAVIN (#5 Corona Competition Team Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone): "Laguna Seca is one of my favorite tracks. I had two good finishes during my years in Toyota Atlantic and hope to have similar success in the #5 Corona car this year. I think the track is going to be very exciting to drive in the Champ Car with the corkscrew and the fast corners at Turns 9 and 10. I've heard the race is very physically demanding so I've increased my time in the gym to better prepare myself."