CHAMPCAR/CART: Miami: Team Rahal track talk - Michel Jourdain

Team Rahal Champ Car Track Talk Miami - Jourdain looking to score big points at Miami HILLIARD, OH . . . As the 2003 Champ Car World Series heads into the final stretch of four races in six weeks, Team Rahal's Gigante Champ Car driver...

Team Rahal Champ Car Track Talk Miami - Jourdain looking to score big points at Miami

HILLIARD, OH . . . As the 2003 Champ Car World Series heads into the final stretch of four races in six weeks, Team Rahal's Gigante Champ Car driver Michel Jourdain Jr. finds himself facing the 'Gigante' task of catching the championship front runners Paul Tracy and Bruno Junqueira. Jourdain enters this week's Grand Prix Americas trailing Tracy by 39 points and Junqueira by 21 points. With four races left and a maximum of 91 points available, wins and podium results are crucial to Jourdain's championship bid.

"We are at the point of the year where we can't afford not to be on the podium this week if we are to have a hope of winning the championship," said Jourdain. "There are only four races to go and we have to score as many points as possible at every race. Even if we win this week we still need trouble to find Paul [Tracy] and Bruno [Junqueira]. I can't control what happens to them so I can only focus on the Gigante team and what we have to do to guarantee our own success. I said earlier in the year that the points we missed out on a Long Beach and Portland would hurt us and now we are seeing the effect of those missed opportunities."

Jourdain has amassed what would, in most seasons, be a championship caliber campaign posting a career best 165 points through the first 15 races and winning a pair of races. Jourdain is on pace to post 200 points in 2003. In the last ten seasons five drivers have posted 200 points in a season, and four have won the championship. This season Tracy, Junqueira and Jourdain are all on pace to surpass the 200 point plateau.

This week the Champ Car World Series returns to the streets of downtown Miami for the second annual Grand Prix Americas. Last season Jourdain ran a strong race at Miami and finished sixth. Jourdain's 2002 teammate Jimmy Vasser finished third at Miami.

"The Miami track is a short narrow course, so qualifying well will be critical to being successful. We had a really good car at Miami last year and Jimmy [Vasser] ended up on the podium, so I know we have a good set-up going into the weekend. We just have to take advantage of what we already know and improve the car. To be honest I am really looking forward to this weekend after a few weekends off. It will be good to get back into the car. The atmosphere around the Grand Prix Americas last year was fantastic, and I am sure with an entire year of planning it will be even better."

MISTER CONSISTENT ROLLS ON

Michel Jourdain Jr. has made consistency his calling card since he joined Team Rahal prior to the 2002 season. Last season Jourdain posted points paying results in his first 17 events with Team Rahal, establishing a team record for consecutive points paying finishes. This year he ran his point streak to 11 straight, matching Bobby Rahal for the second longest streak in team history, before posting a pointless DNF at Elkhart Lake. Prior to joining Team Rahal in 2002, Jourdain had never posted points in more than two consecutive races.

In 34 races with Team Rahal, Jourdain has posted points 31 times (91.1%). He has collected two wins, six podium, 14 top-five results and 26 top-ten finishes.

A year ago Jourdain led the series in laps completed (2,368) and miles logged (4,238). Jourdain enters the race at Miami once again as the series leader in laps completed (1,638) and miles logged (2,929). Since joining Team Rahal in 2002 Jourdain has completed 99% of the laps in the series.

JOURDAIN CREDITS QUALIFYING SUCCESS

One of the keys for Jourdain in '03 has been his qualifying success. Through the first 15 races of 2003 Jourdain's average starting position was fifth, as opposed to an average starting slot of 14th in 2002. Having started in the top-five in ten of the 15 races allowed the steady Jourdain move to the front of the points chase, and has made the Gigante pit crew, the defending Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge champions, a significant weapon in the success of the #9 car.

At Montreal Jourdain started fourth, his eighth start from the front two rows this season.

Jourdain has three front-row starts in 2003, including his first Champ Car career pole position at Long Beach in April. At Laguna Seca he won the pole position on track, but was stripped of the pole winning time when his car failed technical inspection. He started 13th and finished fourth.

Jourdain started 15th at Miami in 2002 and brought the Gigante car home in sixth.

TEAM RAHAL'S SINGLE CAR TITLE QUEST

Jourdain and the Gigante team are vying to become the first single car entry to win the Champ Car World Series championship since Jacques Villeneuve with Players in 1995. Only three have won the title with a single entry, including Bobby Rahal in Team Rahal's first year of operation 1992. Jourdain enters Miami trailing points leader Paul Tracy by 39 points.

JOURDAIN 2003 vs. 2002 vs. Career

Michel Jourdain Jr. enters this weeks Grand Prix Americas with a career high 165 points this season. Jourdain surpassed his 2002 point total (105) in just ten races. Last season Jourdain averaged 5.5 points per race. In 2003 Jourdain and the Gigante team are currently averaging 11.0 points per race. Jourdain had just 61 points in his first six Champ Car seasons. In his first seven seasons in Champ Car Jourdain posted 166 points in 121 races. With a points paying result this weekend at Miami Jourdain will match his combined point total for his first seven seasons in 2003 alone. Since the start of the 2002 season when he joined Team Rahal, Jourdian has amassed 270 points in the Champ Car World Series.

Jourdain is on pace to post 209 points this season. In the last ten years only five Champ Car drivers have posted 200 points in a season and four of the five have won the championship. This season three drivers (Jourdain, Junqueira and Tracy) are all on pace to post 200 points.

TEAM RAHAL MILESTONES WITHIN JOURDAIN'S REACH

Jourdain is enjoying one of the finest driver seasons in Team Rahal history. With four races remaining Jourdain has several Team Rahal records within his reach including points in a season and wins.

The 27-year-old native of Mexico City is also attempting to maintain the highest career points per race average in Team Rahal's Champ Car program. Jourdain is fifth all-time in Team Rahal's Champ Car career points, and he will most likely become just the fourth driver in team history to surpass the 300 point plateau and only the second to do so in two seasons (Rahal 1992-1993).

Jourdain is vying to win Team Rahal's second championship and the first since Bobby Rahal won the championship in 1992. He enters Miami 39 points behind championship leader Paul Tracy.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Bobby Rahal , Paul Tracy , Michel Jourdain