Friday qualifying press conference with top three finishers after first day of Grand Prix Americas, with Bruno Junqueira, Mika Salo and Sebastien Bourdais ERIC MAUK: Ladies and gentlemen, we'll get started with our top-three qualifier press ...
Friday qualifying press conference with top three finishers after first day of Grand Prix Americas, with Bruno Junqueira, Mika Salo and Sebastien Bourdais
ERIC MAUK: Ladies and gentlemen, we'll get started with our top-three qualifier press conference from the first round of the Grand Prix Americas presented by Sportsbook.com in Round 16 of the Bridgestone presents Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We are joined by the top-three qualifiers from today's session. We'll begin with the driver third on the day of the No. 2 McDonald/Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Sebastien Bourdais. Sebastien has already won four poles this season and looking to lock up Rookie of the Year title this weekend with a third place finish. Sebastien, how do you feel about how your day went?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: The day start went very well. The car was great this morning, and we are, I think, a lot faster than a lot of the other guys. And then for qualifying, the car was pretty good and I made a mistake and didn't put the lap pretty much all together. But it was a good lap, I don't know, but I think I don't know what happened with Darren and Mika but it looks like he got three attempts. But we'll see tomorrow.
ERIC MAUK: How much more do you feel is in this car? There's still a lot of practice to go, you have a lot more track time coming up.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, for sure, there's a lot of time to get, you know especially because I never practiced this track and a bunch of the drivers are a lot more experienced than I am. The quick section is quite challenging and you have to know your way around. I think they did a very good job with the track.
ERIC MAUK: Second on the day is Mika Salo, driver of the number 27 PK Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, 90.619 miles per hour. This marked the first time a driver from the rookie PK Racing squad has been in the top three of the qualifying session this year. You definitely took the long way around today. Why don't you take us through exactly what happened to you out there today.
MIKA SALO: It helped me a lot. I had three extra laps. I took a bounce, especially the one on the last corner. Yeah, it's difficult to go in to dry qualifying after a wet session in the morning. Our car is really good in the wet, but I have no idea about the dry. I'm still struggling with the qualifying. When you go out with cold tires it's not something that we are used to doing, but still something you need to get used to. Again, the extra laps helped me, so I'm in second position which is really good. Hopefully not a lot of rain for tomorrow and Sunday.
ERIC MAUK: What are your initial impressions of the track?
MIKA SALO: I don't think these cars are meant to be here. It's really there's a lot more places around Miami where we could race, I think. It's very narrow. Qualifying will be 99 percent of the race.
ERIC MAUK: Today's qualifying leader is driver of the No. 1 PacifiCare Ford Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Bruno Junqueira. Bruno's earned a guaranteed front row starting spot for Sunday's race, as well as a championship point for leading the session that gives him 187 on the year and knocks the deficit to 17 points behind points leader Paul Tracy. This will be his seventh front row starting point of the year. Congratulations, more than a half a second on the entire field. Did you know you had that much on the car today?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I didn't really know because nobody ran on the track. First I have to thank all my team because I crashed this morning on the last corner and the car just went sideways on the inside wall, it was a pretty strange crash, but the team fixed it. That's a very difficult situation. I was the fourth guy to go out and the track still was a little bit wet in some corners. I know that it is really important to have a good qualifying result. I wasn't expecting to get the pole but maybe qualify in the top five. They did a nice job on the track but it is a lot different, the only thing that is the same is the turn around the fountain and maybe the left-hander after that. All of the other corners are different.
Even Turn Two is completely different because last year it came from a right hander and there's not much compared to last year. But I really pushed hard, especially on last lap I did everything I could. I am still 17 points behind Tracy and have to keep putting in good results to pass him in the championship.
ERIC MAUK: If we have a dry session tomorrow, what do you see as the time needed to keep the pole?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I don't think that it will be that much faster. Normally I would say that it would improve by like two seconds but here, maybe a second would be a lot. On Sunday hopefully it will be sunny. I think we can improve our lap and if we get stronger on that last corner will be a good step forward. Miami is a nice city and to live here it's nice for me, and to see it rain this much, it's very unusual. The sun came up again but today and yesterday, the sun wasn't very keen to show up. But now hopefully it will be sun for the weekend.
Q: Was that as close to a perfect lap as you've done or how close to a perfect lap was that?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: It is quite difficult to say. I had three laps and to be true every lap, the car was a little off. I am sure that if I could have done another lap, entirely different I know to go faster. But these three laps went probably the way that I wanted.
Q: You talked about probably the two worst places you could start, Denver and Miami as far as racetracks go, is there any in your racetrack experience, similar at all that's even remotely close to something like that?
MIKA SALO: A couple rallies in Europe. That's about it. Really, I've never seen anything like this before. I think if Formula 1 would come here, they would refuse to race. They would just pack up and go home. Denver, I heard that was also quite a performance last year, because we are in such a beautiful city, in such nice places, for sure they could do a good circuit here.
Q: You said it's going to be 99 percent of the race is going to be qualifying, no passing?
MIKA SALO: Everything is done here or over the pit wall. That's the only way you make positions. There's no way you can pass.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I hope not. (Laughter).
MIKA SALO: The back is so narrow, you can't put your cars there anyway side by side. There's turn one maybe you can pass, and that's very narrow, actually. You can't stop it. So I don't think there's going to be any passing in the race. Unless the car is pretty much like a tank, the only way to get passed is to get hit on the circuit.