CHAMPCAR/CART: Mexico City: Top three press conference, part II

An interview with: Kenny Brack Cristiano da Matta, and Bruno Junqeira Part 2 of 2 Q: Cristiano, you had a wonderful season for CART. The next one is a completely new one in Formula 1. What are your expectations? How do you see the new ...

An interview with: Kenny Brack Cristiano da Matta, and Bruno Junqeira

Part 2 of 2

Q: Cristiano, you had a wonderful season for CART. The next one is a completely new one in Formula 1. What are your expectations? How do you see the new season for you?

Cristiano da Matta: It's definitely going to be very different. I don't know a hundred percent yet what to expect because I only drove the car for one day. The whole experience driving a Formula 1 car is one day. To make predictions what my next season is going to be like, I have to wait for the off-season testing, see how I perform driving the car, see how the new Toyota car performs. There's many question marks still in my head. I have a good feeling. I know at the beginning it's going to be tough, but I think it's a very promising thing for the future. I think, I don't know, two or three years' time we can be very competitive - maybe a little bit more, maybe a little bit less, it's difficult to say. One thing for sure I know the Toyota team is going to be competitive someday and I'll make sure I'm there.

Q: And the new tracks?

Cristiano da Matta: I'm not concerned about learning tracks. I think I can learn tracks very quickly. The biggest thing is to learn the car. Once you learn the car, to learn the track is not a big deal. I know some of those tracks, not many of them, because I've raced in Europe before in Formula 3000 and Formula 3. Although many of the tracks have changed what I raced, and also it's been so long, so it's almost the same as not knowing any of the tracks. Again, the tracks are not my main concern. I think once you're a hundred percent with the car, you're used to it, you and the car are just one piece working together, I think learning the tracks is not a big deal.

Q: You and Bruno are going away.

Cristiano da Matta:  I'm going away for sure, but I think Bruno is not going
away yet.  I'll do it in English because I speak better.

Bruno Junqeira: Really (laughter)?

Cristiano da Matta: I think CART, the series, no doubt is going through a difficult moment with two of the engine manufacturers leaving. That's, of course, difficult for the series. But I'm sure the series, the way the rules are, the way the cars are, the series is always going to be here. Maybe this golden era that CART has been going through, all the competitive teams, drivers very competitive, you go to a race weekend, you have 12 or 14 guys that are able to win a race, I think that's going to go away for a little bit. I believe maybe next year there will be bigger differences between the big teams and the small teams.

But I think it's going to come back, maybe in one year, two years, three years. Who knows? I think the series is going to go back in time a little bit, maybe closer to what it was a couple years ago. I'm sure it's going to be here. Sometimes you have to do one step back to do two steps forward afterwards. I think that's more or less what's going to be going on next year.

Q: Kenny, could you describe that last pit stop. You seemed to have picked up quite a bit of position there while some of the other teams were a little confused. For any of the three, were you surprised there wasn't more passing during the race?

Kenny Brack: If you look back in the race, you'll see we had a long stop the second stop, we took more fuel there to be able to do a shorter stop on the third one. I guess it's different how strategies play out. I was fortunate that my team did a fantastic job in doing the strategy that way. It worked out in the end. We got ahead of all the guys we needed to get ahead of going out of the pits. That was really what decided the race. Cristiano did one move that we managed to avoid getting passed, and that was it. My car was pretty fast once everything got up to temperature and everything. From that point on, it was just to go to the flag really, make sure you make no mistakes.

As far as passing, I think as even as this series is, the same equipment as we all have, we all have the same engines here on the podium, we all have Lola cars, Bridgestone tires, it's going to be very, very close. There's going to be a little bit of passing, but it's not going to be as much as you might want to see if you had a little bit more different quality of perhaps tires or equipment.

Q:   Bruno, I'm confused.  Could you take us through the first couple of
turns again on the first lap.  Could you go over that again?

Bruno Junqeira: On Turn 1, I was straight because he was already ahead of me. I tried to outbrake him. I lost my right foot on the pedal of the throttle when I have to downshift. I was stuck in fifth and I locked when I went straight. Then I came up on the track a little bit behind him, but I tried to outbrake him going to Turn 4. But I think my car has a lot of dirt because I went in the grass. When I braked, I just lost a little bit, then I lost all the positions.

It's a shame because I tried to be aggressive and to race to win the race, but unfortunately what happened in Australia, because I should arrive here already with the second place in the championship, then I could really race like the last laps. I think it would be really difficult to pass Cristiano or even Kenny, I don't think I could do that. But I didn't take a risk because I just take a risk to pass Patrick, I pass him, and I said I have to guarantee. That's what happened the first lap. Then I had to be really calm, make sure that I finished the race, finished second in the championship.

Q: It's important to have you here in Mexico because it's our first very big race in such a long time. What is the meaning for you to have won here in Mexico?

Kenny Brack: First of all, Mexico has a big presence in CART with Adrian and Mario and Michel and everybody, the new drivers, too, that have raced here. I guess CART racing has always been big in Mexico. We've been to Mexico two times already to race in Monterrey. What you always see is the fantastic atmosphere, a lot of people come, a lot of fans, really knowledgeable fans, and they're really into motor racing. It's a joy racing in front of people that are really into the racing like that. I think for all the drivers really we all enjoy coming here very much. Here, this facility, it's fantastic. If you look at the layout, it's really first class. The only bad thing is the traffic getting out of here.

Cristiano da Matta: Another thing for us it really means a lot when I can go in the parade lap and see all the grandstands full, everybody screaming. We like to see people excited about what we do, you know. It's always a great pleasure. Same thing as in Monterrey. Every time we go there, everybody is screaming, everybody enjoys the race. It makes me race even harder because I just get excited about all the fans. I love coming here.

Bruno Junqeira: I think it's pretty nice to come here in Mexico. As Cristiano said, when I do the parade lap and see the grandstands, when you go to the baseball park, see all the grandstands full, it's pretty nice. I think I want to add something. This is the last race of the year. I had a very good relationship with the blond here, you know, Kenny. I'm a little bit frustrated because I finished the race third.

Kenny Brack: I told you.

Bruno Junqeira: Yeah, you told me, but I'm happy for Kenny, he deserved it. Especially in Portland, he deserved to win that race. He's a very good teammate, the best teammate I've had ever. He's fast. For sure he deserved to finish up on the championship. But he's still been very fast. Now I'm going to talk about Cristiano (laughter). Cristiano deserved to win. I hope that he'll have a very good season in Formula 1 next year, the year after. He's a very good driver. He showed that he's capable to win. For sure if you have a good car, he can beat anyone in Formula 1.

Q: How do you see the next season in CART, with all the new drivers? You are going to be the guys with the experience. Will that represent extra pressure?

Bruno Junqeira: I don't know. Let's see who is going to race next year. We don't know yet. It doesn't matter who you race against; you want to beat everybody. For sure, I will be in my third year in CART. Last year wasn't good, this year was much, much better. Unfortunately, we had Cristiano in the championship. But that's happened. I hope next year I can do a little bit better.

Q: Because you're South American drivers, how do you rate the track, the event, the fans?

Bruno Junqeira:  I rate number one las chicas, muy, muy bonitas.  After I
rate the track very good to drive here.  It's a real racetrack, you know,
very good corners, it's pretty nice.  I think third is the crowd that makes
us really, really excited to race.  I think that's it. Now Cristiano has to
rate the other things.  The party tonight I think will be really good.

Kenny Brack: It will be the best one.

Bruno Junqeira: But that didn't happen yet. Let's see.

Cristiano da Matta: I think the whole event, it was very good. Even though I struggled so much this weekend on the track, I still enjoyed the track a lot. For me it's still the best track in the CART circuit by a long ways.

Bruno Junqeira: No, no, Road America.

Cristiano da Matta: Road America is nice, fun to drive. But as a complete circuit, I think this one is better. As a facility, this is a lot better. I think this track is very good. The facilities are very good. The crowd, what can we say about it? It's great, perfect. I think the organization was very good, too. From 1 to 10, I give it 10 for all the aspects. I really mean it.

Merrill Cain: Well put. Thank you very much for a great, entertaining race.

-cart-

Top three press conference, part I

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Kenny Brack , Cristiano da Matta