Top three qualifiers press conference CART Champ Car Grand Prix of Monterey Patrick Carpentier, Bruno Junqueira and Michel Jourdain Jr Eric Mauk: We'll go ahead and get started with our top three press conference for the Grand Prix of ...
Top three qualifiers press conference
CART Champ Car Grand Prix of Monterey
Patrick Carpentier, Bruno Junqueira and Michel Jourdain Jr
Eric Mauk: We'll go ahead and get started with our top three press conference for the Grand Prix of Monterey, round seven of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. My name is Eric Mauk with CART communications.
We're joined by the third-place qualifier, although he was second fastest today, Patrick Carpentier, driver of the #32 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. He will start third tomorrow after putting up a time of 1:09.575 seconds, 115.800 miles per hour. Patrick earned his best starting spot of the season with the third-place run and also the best starting spot in his six previous Laguna Seca starts. Happy with third, but maybe a little bittersweet for you at the end?
Patrick Carpentier: Yeah, it was really close. But I didn't know if I had it or not. The corner before the last one, the car just went to a little bit of a push. I missed the apex by a couple of feet, and there went a few hundredths of a second. That was the pole position today.
But it was good. You know, I really enjoyed it. Everybody is starting to be really competitive, and the times are as close as they've ever been. So today we got three guys within a few hundredths of a second, so it's really good. It's fun to see every set of tires we change, Paul was in front, then he's behind these guys. It's fun to be a part of it. I enjoyed it today.
Eric Mauk: You guys are making your move, really picked it up the last few weeks. Starting to feel pretty good?
Patrick Carpentier: For us it's a lot better. For me, the beginning of the season is always a little bit slow. It's the same this year. We had to learn the Lola. Coming in the last few weeks, we're getting much better at it. We had the chance to test here in the winter, went pretty well also. So I'm pretty happy and looking forward to the rest of the season. All the tracks that are coming up are pretty much all the racetracks that I like, including this one. So it's looking good. I think it's going to be a fun fight for the championship.
Eric Mauk: Wind much of a problem today?
Patrick Carpentier: No, I never thought of it, not on these road courses. We have so much downforce, so much wing, that you don't really feel it like you would on an oval - for us anyway.
Eric Mauk: Go ahead and take a couple questions for Patrick, if we could.
Q: Do you think this is going to be a particularly tough race as far as not having the traction control and tire management? Will this be the toughest race to this point this year in terms of tire management?
Patrick Carpentier: Yeah, Bridgestone tires are really good tires. But without the traction control, when you got 800 horsepower on a track like that, it's pretty abrasive, so the tire goes away fairly quickly. And even in qualifying, you get a few good laps, and then after that it really goes down.
Just as an example, this morning we used a set of tires that only had eight laps from yesterday, and we couldn't get below 1:11. So it was like two seconds off what it was on the new set of tires. So it's going to be very interesting in the race, what kind of tires these guys going to have, and who uses more tires, who uses less during the week. That's going to make the race really interesting, especially at the end of the stint. The last five, ten laps, I think it's going to be fairly tough.
Q: Again with the wind, how do you cope with the sand on the track?
Patrick Carpentier: Yeah, the worst part's not -- oh, here they are (laughter).(Michel Jourdain, Jr. and Bruno Junqueira arrive at press conference) . Eric Mauk: We are now joined by our front-row starters for tomorrow's event. Starting second will be Bruno Junqueira, driver of the #1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, starting second by virtue of his leading Friday's qualifying session. He went out and still put up a best time of 1:09.794, 115.437 miles per hour, which was fourth best on the day. This is Bruno's second front-row starting spot of the year and first at Laguna Seca. Bruno, how did you feel about the way things went for you today?
Bruno Junqueira: It was all right. We worked on the race setup this morning, but the car is still really fast. You run old tires and everyone else is two seconds faster. Just in the end, Sebastien ran stickers and he passed me. I was quite confident for the qualifying, but unfortunately when I started to qualify, there was a red flag.
On the first set of tires, I couldn't get the proper run. I run like 1:09.8. I was quite amazed with Michel's time. I think at that time I was second fastest. But then I said I have to find something. We did a change on the car, and the car got a lot worse. Even if I got the clear laps, I wasn't able to improve much. The car was really loose, really difficult to drive. It's a shame because the PacifiCare car has been good all the weekend. Just when I needed it most, maybe I did a mistake to ask for the change for the team. But that's all right. I think we have a consistent car for the race. Everybody is very close, between me, Patrick, Tracy, and now Jourdain is a little bit too fast. Going to try to hold him off a little bit. It's going to be a nice race tomorrow. Hope we can get to the end and get a great result.
Eric Mauk: Turn one, turn two complex, the outside of the front row for the first time tomorrow. Have you thought about how you're going to approach that?
Bruno Junqueira: I mean, last year I started third. I don't know, third is maybe better than second to start here. Second is not a nice spot for turn one. But let's hope that we can get clean. If I can keep my position, I'll be happy. It is a long race, 87 laps. This track is very physical, and the tires go off a lot. It's going to be a tough race, you know. It's going to be really difficult. I hope it's going to be prepared for all that.
Eric Mauk: Good luck tomorrow. Our polesitter, Michel Jourdain, Jr., driver of the #9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, who took the pole with a best time of 1:09.530 seconds, 115.875 miles per hour. He takes his second career pole, second of the season. This is the fourth time that Team Rahal has won the pole at Laguna Seca, first time since 1999. Michel also widens his championship lead by taking the pole, adding another point to his total that now stands at 78, giving him an 11-point advantage over Paul Tracy and Bruno Junqueira. Tell us about your day, Michel.
Michel Jourdain Jr: Well, it was a really weird day. Coming into the weekend, I mean, when we came testing in January, Newman/Haas was so so fast. I really thought they were going to be so hard to beat. You know, Player's, they were very fast on the road courses last year, too. So I was expecting -- to tell you the truth, for me qualifying fifth would have been like almost pole position.
So yesterday when we were seventh, I thought we could maybe be a little bit faster. Suddenly when I made my time, I was quite amazed with the time. But I'm like, "Okay." I was just waiting for them to go out, and go out, and just see my name go down. Just holding on, holding on, holding on. Then when the checkered came out, I couldn't believe it. The team did a great job. We tried some things this morning; some worked, some didn't. We went back on some for qualifying, just made little changes. When I went out in the 10-minute practice, I felt maybe we have -- a little bit less push would have been good. But my engineer, I wanted that change and he didn't, so I'm glad he didn't do any changes in the car. We got a good lap, clear. Went pretty good.
Eric Mauk: Yesterday in qualifying, we saw you sitting there for eight, 10 minutes. A few of the rookies went out first. Today you charged out at the drop of the green flag. Wanted to get a clear lap? What was the strategy behind that move?
Michel Jourdain Jr: I had something behind my car dropping oil, so when everybody else went out, the track was dirty (laughter). No, we wanted to get a clear lap, you know. Because yesterday, the second run, just couldn't get it. I think my fastest lap in the second run yesterday was like a 1:09.74 because it was just so much traffic. We needed a clear lap at the beginning, and that's what we wanted.
Eric Mauk: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow. We'll open it up for questions.
Q: Michel, win in Milwaukee, pole here. Do you feel momentum on the team?
Michel Jourdain Jr: Yeah, I mean, it's great. I mean, I've talked many times to everybody. For this year we wanted to improve so much in qualifying. The last four races, we've been in the Top 3, which is just great, and two poles, something that is very good.
I talked to Todd Bowland, my engineer, once when I went to Columbus for the Christmas party. We were talking about we needed to fight for the championship. One was qualifying, and the road courses, and the short ovals. My qualifying been better. I got my first win on short oval and pole in a road course. So it's getting better. But like I said, too, we can't get too confident. We have to keep working very, very hard because still a lot of races to go. And these guys are so fast, especially Newman/Haas and Player's, they are so, so hard to beat every time. Oriol (Servia) has been very fast many places, Adrian (Fernandez), too, everybody. So we have to keep working. But, you know, it's great. A lot of people in Mexico, back home, said, "He won his first race, maybe he will get too confident, and he won't do good next race." It's good to back it up with a pole.
Q: Michel, you were quite sideways out there a few times. Looked very spectacular. Do you enjoy driving the car like that and do you think the fact we don't have traction control this year has helped your form?
Michel Jourdain Jr: Yeah, I like driving sideways a lot, but it's not the good way to go (laughter). I mean, sometimes if it's a little bit, not bad to recover it. I mean, I like driving in the rain and all that because you can do that a little bit more. You know, especially this track, you need to have the car straight as possible. The turns are so fast and everything. I didn't like it like last year when they had traction control. Myself, I like it better that we have to control it ourselves.
Q: We saw in the first few races of the year Paul Tracy ended up starting from the outside of the front row, a couple times had the pole position on Friday, so then could work on conserving tires on Saturday. Were you able to do that? Do you feel you might have a little extra in hand over the other guys in terms of tires for tomorrow?
Bruno Junqueira: It is some tires, but I think everybody is looking great on tires. I know that Pat didn't run tires as well. Everybody is in a good position on tires. But I really think the thing of this race is, for sure to have good tires is important, but you have to have a consistent car at the end of the race. Because if you put three or four fast laps on the tires that you use on qualifying, or have stickers, for sure the stickers you give you a little small advantage on the first laps of the stint. But like 25 laps will be the maximum that you can do. And on the last ten, five laps, the tires are going to go away, and then it is going to be important to have a good car.
Q: I will ask my question in French and then translate. Is there any modification for tomorrow's race in terms of the car?
Patrick Carpentier: Good French (laughter). I'm going to make a couple changes from what we've seen in qualifying, for sure, but not too much. For sure the power-down is going to be important for the race, and there's a few things that are going to be very important, especially since we don't have traction control. Without TC, traction control, that's what's going to be completely different from last year.
Eric Mauk: Thank you all for coming.