CHAMP CAR QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT FROM MEXICO CITY WITH JUSTIN WILSON, SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS AND BRUNO JUNQUEIRA ERIC MAUK: All right, ladies and gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started post-qualifying press conference, final ...
CHAMP CAR QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT FROM MEXICO CITY WITH JUSTIN WILSON, SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS AND BRUNO JUNQUEIRA
ERIC MAUK: All right, ladies and gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started post-qualifying press conference, final round of qualifying for the Gran Premio Telmex presentado por Banamex, the final race of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season.
Before we get officially started, I'd like to welcome Al Speyer, executive director of Bridgestone Motorsports, to present today's Bridgestone Pole Award to the driver of the #9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, Justin Wilson.
(Pole Award Presentation.)
ERIC MAUK: Mr. Speyer, we saw in the very first part of the session today when Alex Tagliani came out with the reds, immediately knocked off more than a second from his Friday time. Are you happy with how the alternate Bridgestone Potenzas are performing this weekend?
AL SPEYER: We're quite pleased with the alternates here. The weather isn't too hot, isn't too sunny. We think they're going to hold up pretty good during the race. For whatever reason, this track down here in Mexico City is very favorable to the alternate Bridgestone Potenzas. No matter what the case, we're look for a very exciting race tomorrow. Our best of luck to all the drivers in the field.
ERIC MAUK: Thanks very much. A very fine job by the Bridgestone folks.
We'll get started with Justin. Justin Wilson earns his second Bridgestone Pole Award of the season, the fourth of his career, with a time of 1:24.810 seconds, 117.763 miles per hour. This is his second consecutive pole here in Mexico City, makes him the only driver in the modern era to win back-to-back poles here. Bobby Unser, when he raced here back in '80, '81, on a bit of a reconfigured racetrack here won back-to-back poles. That puts Justin in pretty unique company. It also gives him a championship point, boosting his total to 270, just 15 points out of second place, which pays another $50,000 in year-end bonus money, although he will have to get 16 points in order to surpass A.J. Allmendinger, as A.J. would have the tiebreaker criteria on Justin.
Justin, tell us a little bit about that hot lap.
JUSTIN WILSON: Everything came together. The car was feeling great. We made some improvements right before the qualifying itself. You know, the team has done a great job this weekend. It's not been easy circumstances, but they've worked hard. The engineers have done a great job. Just very pleased with the progress we've made.
As you said, it came together. The car was flowing, could get up to speed, could get back to full throttle very early. It's all great. As soon as I crossed the line, I knew it was a good lap. I wasn't sure how good it was until I got out of the car and I saw Sebastien hadn't beat it. I knew there was some oil down, I got it on my lap. I slipped through turn three quite bad, but still managed to gain time through there.
I thank the team and also Bridgestone. The tires worked fantastic. The alternate tires were very good. This is definitely going to be one of the most cherished trophies I have because today was quite emotional. Under the circumstances, with all the rumors flying around, and also with what happened in Australia, it just feels good to come out on top.
ERIC MAUK: You worked very hard for it. You deserve it. Congratulations.
You and Sebastien are about half a second clear of the field, at least in qualifying time today. Last year you sat on the pole, went out, led 65 of 70 laps, ran away with this thing. Do you feel you have a car that can repeat that performance this year?
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, the car feels very good. It's very stable. That's what we've been working on. Tomorrow is a different day; anything can happen. It's quite easy for the balance to go away without changing anything, just with the climate change or whatever. So I don't want to get carried away with myself just yet.
You know, providing everything feels good, my wrist feels good, also my left arm can take the pressure doing 66 laps around here, pretty much does 90 percent of the work, I'm going to try to win the race. If I can't, I'll try to play the smart thing and try to get second in the championship. We'll just see what we can do.
ERIC MAUK: A seven-place finish tomorrow for Justin clinches second place in the season championship. We are now joined by our second- and third-place qualifiers as well. Starting third, driver of the #2 Hole in the Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Bruno Junqueira. He puts up a best lap today of 1:25.491 seconds, 116.812 miles per hour. For Bruno, this is his fourth start here at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, the fourth time he has started in the top three.
Good run today, Bruno. Tell us a little bit about it.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: It was a good run today. I think my Newman/Haas car is pretty good here. It has been fast for all the days. Qualifying, the first run, I don't know, I made a mistake on my second lap. I thought that was the last lap. I was going to do three laps. But I was still P2, very close to Sebastien. I thought I had a shot for the pole.
On the red tires, my car built up a little too much understeer. I don't think I could have done much better. I lost my really good lap, like almost 4/10th faster, and I got Tagliani, 25.0, maybe very close to Sebastien, but I think a couple 10ths behind Justin, so well done to Justin.
Tomorrow in the race, I'm very excited. I think my car is good. I like this track a lot. I like this crowd here in Mexico City, it's always very good. So I hope I can put a good show here tomorrow.
ERIC MAUK: You talked about how much you like the track. You've always qualified well here, not just with Newman/Haas, but back when you were with Target Chip Ganassi. What about this track suits your style?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think this track, you can see the top three here. I'm Brazilian, I'm proud to be up here. But this is like a road course, the kind of track that you are born racing on in Brazil and Europe. It's like a European-style track. You can see drivers that always drive on those fast, high-speed and road course usually does well here. So I love this kind of track.
As you said, even with Ganassi, I was on pole here. I think that's one of the reasons because I started racing on the fast road courses like this.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow. Starting on the outside of the front row, starting on the front row for the seventh consecutive Champ Car event this year, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. His fast lap today 1:24.986 seconds, 117.506 miles per hour. Sebastien, you gave it a good run. How do you feel about the way it went?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I thought we would be sitting in the middle, to be honest, after the first run. The McDonald's car felt really, really well-balanced. I was very happy. We made a change to kind of keep up with the track conditions, anticipate the understeer which was going to build up.
Just went for the second run, the car picked up quite a bit of understeer, nothing I could do. Turn three from the get-go for us. That was just too much. So I'm a little disappointed. Congratulations to Justin. He's done a good job. Hopefully I can give him a good run tomorrow.
ERIC MAUK: Were you surprised at how long it took guys to get up to speed today? Halfway through the session, only eight or nine drivers had improved their time from yesterday.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: That's related to the Bridgestone alternate tires. Most everybody ran one set yesterday. With these kind of tires, it was a little hard to improve that lap time at the very beginning. I think the track was a little quicker. We definitely saw time that followed equal tire to equal tire.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow. We'll take questions for the top three qualifiers.
Q: Justin, could you have been faster today if you had two good hands?
JUSTIN WILSON: I'm not sure today. Yesterday I definitely felt it cost me a bit of time in the last corner and also through the S's complex. I banged a curb earlier in the qualifying session on my first run, jarred my wrist. I was a little bit cautious because of that. Today my car was very well-balanced. I was able to put enough load to my right arm to manage. I really couldn't say whether it's 1/10th, nothing at all, or just 2/10ths. I just don't know.
Q: Sebastien, did you have any mechanical trouble today
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't know. I don't know. Maybe something happened in the rear damper. We need to look into it. I definitely felt a big, big switch between the two. I was very surprised. That's what racing is all about. Sometimes you get caught. There's not much you can do about it. You just have to give a good look into it. Maybe we'll find something, maybe we won't find something. We'll adjust accordingly.
Q: Early in the run or later?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: On the second run. No beginning, middle or end. Run by run really.
Q: Looked like you hurt your wrist today as well, was it a factor?
JUSTIN WILSON: You mean yesterday's qualification? Today? No, everything seemed okay. We did the first run. We went a little bit early. We kind of showed our hand a little bit too soon. We thought that was the best time with the track.
My wrist was not too bad in this qualification. We just sat waiting for a good time to put the red option tires on and go for our second run.
Q: Any worries about tomorrow with your hand?
JUSTIN WILSON: Not in qualifying. After yesterday, obviously there was a little bit of doubt, if I brushed the curb again like I did yesterday. You know, so far it's been okay, it's strong enough. I had it x-rayed in the Champ Car medical. They fixed it all out. The medical team have been fantastic.
It's feeling well, making progress still.
ERIC MAUK: That will wrap it up. Thank you very much, gentlemen. We go racing tomorrow at 2:00. Thank you.