CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterrey race winner, da Matta, interview transcript - part three

March 13, 2001 CHAMPIONSHIP AUTO RACING TEAMS, INC. Teleconference An Interview With: CRISTIANO da MATTA Part three Q. Long Beach different track, I would think it ...

March 13, 2001 CHAMPIONSHIP AUTO RACING TEAMS, INC. Teleconference An Interview With:

Part three Q. Long Beach different track, I would think it requires a different mental mindset. You found a very wide open check on a road course in Mexico. That is a very different condition than you are going to find at Long Beach where the walls are in close and there is a lot of bumping and banging that might be going on. Do you take a fighter's mentality in a track like Long Beach where you may have to literally fight for every inch that you get on the track? CRISTIANO da MATTA: Yeah, in my -- I always think I have to fight as hard, like even in a street course that you have walls beside you all the time, you still have to fight as hard as you do in the road course when you have an open area beside you. You cannot let the walls, for example, change your way of driving or, for example, just the way the racing is with more bumping for example, we cannot let those things change our style. So I am going there I am just going to be driving the same way.

Q. Talk about the chassis development and also the development that you noticed in the Toyota engine. The chassis seemed to be fairly close; obviously yours won. Then with a Penske Reynard and then a Reynard. What are you seeing as similarities and what are you seeing as advantages? CRISTIANO da MATTA: Well, I think to be honest, I don't think there will be a big difference in performance right now between the chassis available. I think the biggest thing you can make is the difference you have on the setup you are using. I think no matter if you have Lola or Reynard or whatever you have, the setup you are using has been a lot more important than the -- I mean, I am talking about this year because -- the two manufacturers seem to be so close, so it looks like the setup the team is using has been very, very important.

Q. About the Toyota engine, this is -- you have got some experience with it. How have they improved for this year? CRISTIANO da MATTA: Well, Toyota definitely, they were up to speed last year. They won five races last year and I think this year it is my third year with them and I always saw from one year to the other a big, big difference performance-wise. They were always improving a lot in the off-season time. I think this year is no different. This year they made a huge jump. They raised their game again and it has been working better than ever.

Q. What does Cristiano do in this long gap between this race and Long Beach? CRISTIANO da MATTA: Well, to be honest, I am taking suggestions because I haven't figured it out yet because it is a strange feeling to be honest because the first time in my whole life racing that after I start the season a one-month gap and I cannot test, usually, you know, one month gap we would have three or four tests and it would be busy. But now I have all this time, I am going to keep on riding my bicycle a lot, keep on working out pretty hard for Long Beach race as we are going to be out of the car for a month, and play some guitar. I am going to have a lot of time to do a lot of stuff. I am going to probably spend a few days back home in Brazil, spend some days here. It is so much time I don't even know yet. .

Q. I watched the race on tape this morning and it looked to me like Kenny Brack really tried to make a pass on you after both of you were called to come into pits within two or so laps. That surprised me. Did that surprise that he tried to pass you? CRISTIANO da MATTA: Yeah, it surprised me a little bit. But that lap, that specific lap I didn't get a really really good run out of turn 8 or 7, I don't remember how CART was calling the turns there. But we were calling it turn 9 actually. So I didn't get a very, very good run out of turn 9 and I think he saw the chance and he tried, but he wasn't -- I think he didn't try harder because he knew we were coming in in a few laps.

Q. I think he tried to pass you and you tucked in right behind his rear wing but he had too much speed and he went off the track. I think this was before the pit stop. So my question is: As a driver can you tell if the person, the other driver is not going to make the turn and if there was anybody else that you worried about behind you later in the race? CRISTIANO da MATTA: No, Brack was definitely my main concern. At that very moment I knew that he wasn't going to make it through the turn because I was braking on the clean line, on a good line. There was a lot of rubber there. My car was good on the braking and I was braking pretty deep there. I saw him coming to the third line and trying to brake deeper than I was braking on the clean line, so I had no doubt that he wasn't going to be able to make it. So I just waited until he drove by me and then I turned.

Q. We talked briefly about the walls and the street condition, Long Beach. There has been a lot of talk lately about safety in motor sports in road racing. What is your mind set going into a place like Long Beach where the walls are right there and as you stated, you still have to charge hard to do well in the race. CRISTIANO da MATTA: Well, I think the walls in Long Beach actually they are, of course a street race is always a little bit more dangerous because the walls are so close. But the way they -- they put the walls around the racetrack in Long Beach, it is the best way possible. There was a concern, the drivers were concerned last year about the fencing that was getting too old, and from the reports we have, from the drivers association, we heard that we were going to have all new fencing all the way around the racetrack which is what we asked for last year. So the walls are actually not our main concern right now because I think they do a pretty good job on positioning them on the best way possible. If we got this fencing that they told us that we are going to have this year, I think the safety conditions are going to be pretty good. Of course racing is always a dangerous sport, but we appreciate that they are trying to make it as safe as they can for us.

Q. If I am not mistaken CART requires a HANS on the ovals, but do you wear it during road events? CRISTIANO da MATTA: Yes, I wore it on the race in Mexico. I know that there are not many drivers that can get themselves comfortable in the car with the HANS for the road and street courses right now. I have been lucky to find one of those devices that fits me pretty well and I was able to get comfortable with it straight-a-way. I know there are a lot of people that have a lot of complaints about when the track is bumpy and all, that but I -- in the off-season was tested in Sebring and Laguna which is two very tough and physical tracks and I didn't have a problem so I decided I am ready to use it everywhere now.

Q. A question about television. Obviously you were in Mexico so you couldn't see what was shown in Brazil, but were you interviewed for Brazilian TV that was shown the same day, out of the car after the race? CRISTIANO da MATTA: Yeah, it was actually a little bit confused because I made a mistake and I parked the car on the wrong spot after the race was over. I know that -- that made it a little bit more difficult for the Brazilian TV. But actually I was able to talk to them and it was not -- how can I say -- it wasn't as a -- it wasn't as a peaceful interview as it was supposed to be because there were a lot of people around me at that time and they had to sneak in and interview me and there was a lot of people talking loud and all that. But it still came out well.

Q. The reason I am asking because American TV went off before and they were trying to talk to you on the radio in the helmet. Typically in Brazil the guys are seen the night of the race? CRISTIANO da MATTA: Yes, we are being shown there on live TV now.

Q. They save enough time to talk to you afterwards. CRISTIANO da MATTA: Yeah, they actually -- I talk of course to my mom on Sunday night and she told me that she saw the podium. And even before the race, she was telling me that they even showed the trucks parade. That is when they started the broadcast there, so they saved a lot of time before and after the race. T.E. McHALE: At this point we will let Cristiano go for the afternoon. Cristiano, thank you for being with us this afternoon. Congratulations again on your victory on Sunday and the best luck like through the remainder of the 2001 FedEx Championship Series Season. CRISTIANO da MATTA: Okay, T.E., I appreciate that. T.E. McHALE: Thanks to all of you who took the time to be with us this afternoon. We will talk to you next week.

--end part three        
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Series IndyCar
Drivers Kenny Brack