CART Champ Car press conference the top three finishers from the Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante with: Mario Dominguez, Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy Eric Mauk: We'll go ahead with the top-three finishers press conference for the Gran Premio ...
CART Champ Car press conference the top three finishers from the Gran Premio Telmex-Gigante with: Mario Dominguez, Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy
Eric Mauk: We'll go ahead with the top-three finishers press conference for the Gran Premio Telmex/Gigante Presented by Banamex/Visa. I am Eric Mauk of CART Communications. We're joined by the top-two finishers today Paul Tracy and Sebastien Bourdais. We'll be joined by Mario Dominguez shortly.
We'll start with the second-place driver, the driver of the No. 2 Lily Ford-Cosworth Lola/Bridgestone Sebastien Bourdais, who claims the seventh podium of his rookie season by finishing second today. Sebastien also officially clinches the Series Rookie-of-the-Year title, becoming the second driver in the history of Newman/Haas Racing to earn that honor. Sebastien, congratulations, good run today, real tight battle with Paul towards the end. How do you feel the way things went?
Sebastien Bourdais: Kind of two feelings, pretty happy for my own result. Obviously, a rookie title, finished on the podium with Cialis for the first time. Pretty good weekend for me, and kind of disappointed for Bruno because he got sick this morning. I think he got kind of the tourist disease and so he had to stay the whole morning at the medical center. And obviously he didn't look that good from the middle to the end of the race. That's kind of a shame because he lost a lot of opportunity to win the Championship which was pretty much the main target for Newman/Haas Racing and obviously for me to help him. So it's racing, but it's kind of disappointing.
Eric Mauk: Late-race caution flag right after you had come out the pits and put up two very quick laps. Then we take the caution, you take the restart, you are half a second behind Paul for a number of laps. Strategy there? Any shots to get him at all?
Sebastien Bourdais: I think in one way the yellow helped us because we closed the gap, but we were so much faster with the new tires that the yellows kind of ruined the strategy because when you go up to speed, then you have to slow down, it kind of kills the performance of the new tires, and the car was running really, really well and then suddenly after the restart it was really, really difficult to try to pass Paul. Then I tried a lot to pass Bruno to kind of catch Paul and then after I tried to pass him, but there was really no way today. And I think, you know, the configuration of the track was the quickest is where you lose a lot of downforce and overheat the tires when you are in the back of the car. Then after this slow section, it's making life pretty hard when you want to pass so it's kind of very challenging but also very difficult. And obviously, I didn't succeed, but still a pretty good race for me. And finishing second is a great result for the series car.
Eric Mauk: Talk about winning the Rookie-of-the-Year title, we had a big rookie field this year and had guys that, like you, had a lot of international experience.
Sebastien Bourdais: That was the main target of the year. I think it is very good, obviously, to get it two races before the end. We could have achieved that in Miami, but, you know, you know what happened. (Laughs). Obviously we knew that we were in pretty good shape. We had a big advantage over Darren (Manning) and were looking very strong here in Mexico, but now the biggest target is try to finish in the final podium and to make another podium final for Newmann/Haas Racing. I think we closed the gap with Michel today. We got very important points and these next two races are going to be very difficult and I just hope to be there and to prove that I really deserve this final podium.
Eric Mauk: Congratulations. Good run today. The winner of the Gran Premio Telmex/Gigante Presented by Banamex/Visa is the driver of the #3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth Lola/Bridgestone for Player's/Forsythe Racing, Paul Tracy. Paul claims his seventh win of the season making him just one of six drivers to win as many as seven races in a year win; the win is also the 26th of his career tying him with Rick Mears for third on the all-time CART list. The win more importantly gives him 226 points on the year, boosting his series lead to 29 over Bruno Junqueira meaning that he can clinch series title in our next race two weeks from now with either a first- or second-place finish. Congratulations. Big win for you. Tell us what it means.
Paul Tracy: Fantastic weekend for Forsythe Racing. Very happy for the team. I mean, after the weekend we had in Miami, we struggled all weekend and really had one of the poorest weekends we've had all year, and I got frustrated and made a mistake in the race. And that really cost us a lot. So I think it was a good opportunity for us to sit down and we had a couple of meetings and really think about what we had to do for here. We came in here with our all of our best setup on the car and the car was good right away. It was good to bounce back this way because we were struggling to get some podium finishes in the last five races and Sebastien and Bruno were building momentum getting good finishes and starting to build momentum, so to come back and bounce back and score a 22-point weekend was fantastic.
Eric Mauk: Take us through that last restart, all of a sudden Sebastien is right on your rear wing for quite a while.
Paul Tracy: Yeah, I had a really good car. I was just running my pace. I built up about a 10-second lead on Sebastien after the second pitstop. They radioed me and said he was going really quick. But still I was a long way away. I was a bit disappointed when the yellow came out because they said he was very quick, and you know, from there I knew that we had to be very clean, you know, I didn't -- I knew that Sebastien was going to try to apply as much pressure as he could - like he did in Miami - and I kind of caved into the pressure there. So I knew that I had a good car and I just had to be clean and smooth through the esses and really the most important thing was to get off the last corner well and I was able to do that every time and really Sebastien didn't have any opportunity.
Eric Mauk: 29-point lead going to Surfer's. Two races to go. Make the title hope a little more real for you?
Paul Tracy: For sure, but you never know what can happen. I can, you know, you can have a bad race there and Bruno could win the race and score 22 points and we have got an eight-point lead, so you know, we have got to have another good race, we have got a weekend off, go home, you know, rest and relax and get ready for the next race.
Eric Mauk: Congratulations, great win. Before we open it up to the media we'll go over our top-five in points Paul Tracy leads with 226; Bruno Junqueira second with 197, Michel Jourdain Jr., 183 in third and is still alive in the title race. Sebastien Bourdais is fourth with 158 and Patrick Carpentier is 136 in fifth. We will go ahead and take questions for our top two finishers if you have a question.
Q: This is for Paul. Sebastien was very dangerous at the last of the race. You started out very good. But Sebastien had nothing to lose. He already was the Rookie-of-the-Year, and you are just going for the Championship and you couldn't give -- it's not a choice to put in risk your first place in the Championship. My question is: If Sebastien started better in the race, would you let him pass or you will go all the way for the first place.
Paul Tracy: What I can say is that Sebastien has always raced very clean with me and what happened last weekend between us was my mistake. It was my fault. I got impatient and thought I could get him back but really had no opportunity. And I wanted to have, for sure, to keep a clean relationship with Sebastien and that's important to me. So I knew that he's not going to do anything crazy. He wants to get a good result for his team, and the new sponsors here, so I knew that if I kept it clean and a tidy line, if he was faster than me then I'd have to let him go. If he got along side then -- I knew where Bruno was, I knew he was struggling and falling back from us. The most important thing was to stay in front of Bruno.
Eric Mauk: We are now joined by the third-place driver today, the driver of the #55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth Lola/Bridgestone, Mario Dominguez who scores his fourth podium finish of the season and the fifth of his career by coming in third today. This marks the second time this season that Mario has earned podium finishes in consecutive events. It also gives him 115 points in the Championship and moves him up into sixth position in the season standings. Mario, congratulations, on the podium again, doing it here in Mexico City, how does it feel?
Mario Dominguez: I was just-- cannot believe it, the result finishing third in Mexico after the great support of all the Mexican fans, all the support they gave the Mexican drivers and being able to pay them with a third-place podium finish is just the best thing that could have ever happened. Thanks to my team. They give me wonderful pit stops. I really can't thank them enough. Thank to the whole Herdez Competition for their support and trust in me being able to finish third here is better than anything -- that's the best thing that's ever happened to me in my whole life. I want to thank the whole people of Mexico that were here for their support. I can't thank them enough from the bottom of my heart, and I just really love -- all the guys in Mexico, all the guys at the racetrack were in the car with me through the whole time. It was great.
Eric Mauk: Again as you have done in several races this year made a couple of very daring passing moves and completed some tough passes on track where many guys weren't able to make passes. What was the difference in making some of the late race passes today?
Mario Dominguez: Well, it was really the setup we put on the car. We put a low down-force setup. We knew the only place we could pass was at the end of a straight. So we just, you know, best effort there, we gambled a little bit. It paid off. We were pretty fast at the end of the straight; not very straight in the esses, but it was definitely the way to go over here to overtake.
Eric Mauk: Congratulations. Great result. Again, we'll go back to questions from the media.
Q: Paul, yesterday you were a little bit apprehensive about the start and obviously it worked out very well for you. Can you kind of take us through how it went.
Paul Tracy: I decided to go maybe a little bit too early the first time. I held about a 70 mile an hour speed second gear and then jumped it and I got a pretty big jump on Tiago, so the flagger waived that one off. Then I just waited maybe 50, 100 meters later, to go and we were pretty even coming across the line, but I saw Bruno coming and I stayed in the middle of the road and he split the gap between me and Tiago and came to the outside of me. As soon as he pulled out of draft, he didn't really start going by me, he got side-by-side with me, all the way down the straightaway. But that's as far as he can get. I just waited for him to brake and braked a fraction a second later and then I was into the first corner first and you know, once I came out the first complex I had about five car lengths on him and at the end of that lap I was two seconds in front and just steadily pulled away to the first stop, I was almost six seconds.
Q: Talk about towards the end of race Oriol Servia went off and he came on back, I don't know, came back on in front, I think both all of you guys -- was that a problem?
Paul Tracy: He was getting a pull-start, no. I was glad they didn't go full-course yellow for that, for sure but you could see all the way to the other side of the track from there - when you turn in off the front straightaway you could see, I can see that he was getting pulled and before I got there, he had just started so I just held a tight line. I think it maybe held up Sebastien more than it did me.
Sebastien Bourdais: Basically I pushed really hard after the last pitstop. I really overused my tires, I really tried everything I could, but you know when you are in the draft, you lose a lot of downforce and then you beat up your tires and then at that point that was already over. I had like five or six laps where just couldn't find a spot and just really tried all I could.
Mario Dominguez: I'd like to compliment the officials for not going yellow at the end because it made for a better race, good call. Congratulations to them.
Q: What did you think of the weekend?
Paul Tracy: I think the track is a beautiful track, fantastic layout. I think it is a bumpy track, but I don't think there's any real way that you can fix that situation here because you have got, from what I understand, you have a very high water table here because of the ocean on one side and the gulf on the other. The water table is very high. Very volcanic region, the ground is moving all the time, so I don't think there's -- even if you repave it, the bumps are still going to form in the track no matter what you do. I think it's just something that you have to set up for and get your car balanced as best you can and you know, something that we have to deal with.
Sebastien Bourdais: Basically it was a very tough racetrack, but obviously for everybody, it's the same. It's just giving a great show for the fans. It is just making life a lot harder for us because to find the right balance on the car is a big problem because also the altitude you have a lot of downforce so it's just -- really no offense to that, it's just an observation, the track is definitely bumpy, but it is a beautiful one.
Eric Mauk: Last question for these two guys.
Q: Before I ask my question I just want to remark something that it's important that I say not only for me but all the Mexicans, you are welcome, this is your home, we're really glad to have the CART Series in Mexico. And my question is what image do you take home about Mexico not only as a race -- as a circuit but as the treatment, how did Mexico treat you? Do you like Mexico?
Paul Tracy: I think the most important thing is that the fans are really enthusiastic about racing. They have great fans, beautiful women, fantastic facility both Monterey and here are fantastic tracks. It's so much fun to come down here and race and have a lot of fun. Any time you can race with this many people, it's a great feeling.
Sebastien Bourdais: Yeah, I think it's definitely the point, I mean, to race, I don't know how many people were there today, but it was like all the grand stands were sold out, and you know, we don't see that often in CART Series even if we had a pretty good visit. But it's a long track, a lot of grandstand, these ones are huge, and it's full and it's unbelievable to race in front of such a good crowd.
Paul Tracy: Such an awesome feeling to go through that stadium, when you come to a stadium and there's 60,000 people in the stadium it's just an incredible feeling.
Sebastien Bourdais: Thank you for coming.
Q: There was a lot of question, a lot of concern about tire wear yesterday. And not just you but everybody was a little bit concerned about it. Can you just talk about -- probably you were -- you didn't have the luxury of being like Paul kind of being able to manage your tire wear because you were having to pass so many people. Can you just talk about --
Mario Dominguez: I really got to hand it to the Bridgestone because the tires were great. Especially this type of track it's very demanding. Towards the end, my tires were behaving very, very well. My tires were very, very good for like the first eight laps that's when I started -- after the last pitstop to catch Sebastien and Paul, and then just the last three or four laps I couldn't gain anymore distance on them because I think I overheated them. I think I just pushed a little too hard at the beginning and overheated them. So I couldn't gain anymore.