Champ Car Press Conference Transcript With Justin Wilson, A.J. Allmendinger And Sebastien Bourdais ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we're going to start our post qualifying press conference for today's final round of...
Champ Car Press Conference Transcript With Justin Wilson, A.J. Allmendinger And Sebastien Bourdais
ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we're going to start our post qualifying press conference for today's final round of qualifying for the Gran Premio Telmex/Tecate Presented by Banamex, the season finale of the 2005 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.
If you would be so kind, tell us a little bit about the tires today. Very tricky racetrack, a very slick racetrack at times. Looks like the tires held up well.
EDUARDO MINARDI: I would like to say about tires that the red tires are fantastic in this racing. They have experienced one second per lap faster than the regular tires. It would be a very nice opportunity for all the teams tomorrow to use those tires at the proper moment based on their strategies to make a good performance. Thank you very much.
ERIC MAUK: Our top three qualifiers today, our third place qualifier, our 2005 series champion and the defending winner here at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. His quick lap today, 1:26.827 seconds, 115.512 miles per hour.
Sebastien, tell us a little bit about your today.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS Well, it's just been a weird day for us. We had a great car this morning. I really thought we were going to have a shot at the pole. We put a new set of tires at the end. Something must have happened on the car. We just got it all wrong because ever since that point we never really got the car underneath us. Just couldn't pull it off.
It's a little bit disappointing because obviously last year we had a pretty dominant performance. That proves that basically every year's different and you need to stay on top of your game. It doesn't seem like today we got it.
ERIC MAUK: Your expectations for tomorrow's race.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS It's going to be a long and difficult race. I think the RuSPORT boys are pretty quick. We're going to have our hands full. Hopefully we can stick with them and see if something happens during the race. Maybe we're going to get the good car back underneath us and be able to be chasing them down.
ERIC MAUK: Good luck tomorrow.
Our second place qualifier, he earns a second place starting spot by virtue of leading yesterday's qualifying, driver of the #10 Western Union Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, A.J. Allmendinger. His best lap of the day 1:27.053 seconds, 115.239 miles per hour. This is AJ's fourth front row start of the 2005 season.
AJ, tell us a little bit about how you feel about how things went today.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I mean, it's been a struggle today. We seemed to have a great car, but, you know, we're right about on the edge of having a car that's magnificent. Kind of just battled back and forth today trying to get a good baseline setup.
A little bit frustrated overall, but it's great for the team. Justin did a great job starting on the front row again together. Hopefully we won't give it to Sebastien this time like we did last time. I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
ERIC MAUK: You finished third here last year. You start second. How is your confidence level heading into tomorrow?
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I think we still need to do some work on the car. Between the black and the red tires, we seem to have a bit of a handling difference. We'll go back and fortunately we have the fastest car to look at, look at the data and see how to fix it.
ERIC MAUK: Good luck to tomorrow.
Our Bridgestone Pole Award winner for today's event, driver of the #9 Intel Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, Justin Wilson. Justin earns his second pole of the year, the second of his career, with a time of 1:26.602 seconds, 115.813 miles per hour. He leads the third 1-2 RuSPORT sweep of the front row this season. He earns a championship point, giving him 232 for the season, moving him to 33 points behind Oriol Servia in the battle for second place.
Justin, you were strong all day. You come out here and win the pole. Tell us a little bit about it.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, I think like the other guys up here, we've had an interesting day, up and down. There's been times when we really struggled and there's been times when we just happened to get it right and be quick. Fortunately, it's always at the end of the sessions where it counts.
First of all, I went out quite early. The car was feeling pretty good. We didn't change too much in between the runs. Didn't seem to really get up on the second run on the red Bridgestone tires. It came together. Every time going through the axis, I kept leaning on the car. It felt great. We were very pleased that we might turn it around. Having a good weekend so far.
ERIC MAUK: A very tricky track, a very demanding racetrack. Where do you think you need to be fast tomorrow in order to be successful here?
JUSTIN WILSON: Everywhere. Yeah, I think it's going to be a strong pace and it's going to be a long race. We'll have to play it as smart as we can and try to make sure we have a good car tomorrow in warm-up and the same throughout the race. Try to do whatever we can to stay in the top three. I think that's the important thing for myself at the moment. If we can win the race, we will. If we can't, we'll finish as high as we can.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations, best of luck tomorrow.
We'll take questions from the media.
Q: Justin, AJ talked a little bit yesterday and again today about the difference in his car's handling on the red tires versus the black tires. Obviously, he's a little bit concerned about that in the race. Are you suffering from the same difference? Do you have the same kind of quandary that you're facing, as well?
JUSTIN WILSON: I'm not completely sure yet. We haven't run a new set of black tires late on today when we had a better setup. For me, the red tires were a good thing. The car worked well. I'm hoping it's going to translate back to the black tires.
Even if it doesn't, we've got two stints on the reds, which is a quicker tire anyway. I'm happy that my setup is working now on the red tires.
Q: Justin and Sebastien, you saved both sets of red tires for today. I guess to some degree that allows you to tune the car in the first half the session, then go for an even better time in the second half where, AJ, you obviously took the decision to go one set red yesterday. Can any of you talk about that sort of strategy, whether you think having two sets of reds today was particularly helpful.
JUSTIN WILSON: Well, for me it was definitely helpful, I mean, the two sets of tires to first see what they're like and then secondly really go for them.
I didn't feel that we had the car to do what AJ did yesterday, so we had to save the tires and make the right call. AJ felt he could achieve what he achieved. He did a great lap. You know, it's just great for the team to be on the front row.
A.J. ALLMENDINGER: I mean, I think yesterday I was actually planning on doing the same thing as these guys did. I wanted to keep both sets of reds just for the mere fact the track was going to be faster today and to have basically a free set of reds to tune the car on for the second time out.
But yesterday, when Paul went out there on reds, at that point he was the closest guy to me and I figured that I had no chance of pole unless I put the reds on to compete with him. That's pretty much why we made the decision yesterday to go with the reds.
Q: Sebastien, Can you talk about your relationship with Paul Newman and the charity work you two do together?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS Well, I have a great relationship with Paul, was just up there a minute ago. We actually have a great time together. I think when he decided in 2003 to just hire me, it was a great chance. Then after that we got involved with the McDonald's program, basically there was a lot of charity action going on around the racing program. And I think it's been beneficial for everybody - obviously, for the kids, both for the Ronald McDonald Foundation and for the Hole in the Wall Camps and for myself because that gave me the opportunity to have a great program with Newman/Haas.
Q: Arriving to Mexico as champion of the race, does it make you change your strategy?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS Well, there's obviously no pressure for us. We just coming here already being crowned. It's just all about coming here and having fun. I think we were just about to succeed what we did last year if qualifying. But things don't always go your way. We'll see how the race turns out. But I'm pretty hopeful that we should be able to tune the car back to where it was this morning and have a very quick car tomorrow in the race.
ERIC MAUK: Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you.