CHAMP CAR POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH BRUNO JUNQUEIRA, ANDREW RANGER AND ALEX TAGLIANI THE MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome our top three finishers from the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix presented by Roshfrans. The top ...
CHAMP CAR POST-RACE PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT WITH BRUNO JUNQUEIRA, ANDREW RANGER AND ALEX TAGLIANI
THE MODERATOR: I'd like to welcome our top three finishers from the Tecate/Telmex Monterrey Grand Prix presented by Roshfrans. The top three finishers today were Bruno Junqueira, driver of the #2 PacifiCare Ford/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Bruno Junqueira, second was Andrew Ranger, in the Mi-Jack Conquest car, also Ford/Lola/Bridgestone, and third was Alex Tagliani, in the Aussie Vineyards Team Australia car. Gentlemen, it was hot out there today. Bruno, take us through your day. How did you keep your nose clean all day when everybody else ran into trouble?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Was a very good day for the Newman/Haas PacifiCare team. The car ran really great. We had a problem with the turbo, had to completely the change after the problem yesterday, just change a part, but they realize everything had to change completely the turbo. The mechanics work really hard prepare the car for me. I had a really good race car. I started fifth. Was a really hard race, very hot, the track is very slippery.
So I tried to be patient. I had a really good car. I stayed behind Tag. When I had the opportunity, I passed him. Then the strategy play went back because all the guys pitted out of sequence. So then I had the opportunity to pass a couple of guys later. Then I took the lead of the race. Really hard. Keep mistakes free on the track today. But my car was really good and I'm really happy to get the first win of the year. Was great.
THE MODERATOR: Second place was Andrew Ranger. A side note on Andrew. He is the youngest podium finisher ever in Champ Car history. Congratulations on that. Andrew, take us through your day. You started 14th. You saw a lot cars go behind you when you moved your way to the front. Talk about that.
ANDREW RANGER: It was pretty good. The car was very good all weekend. Just yesterday a big problem with the car, the last setup. But I qualified 14th. The car was very, very good to drive. Was fantastic. I worked hard. Started 14th, finished second. My second race ever in Champ Car, first podium, I think it's fantastic for me, for the team Mi-Jack Conquest. I'm very, very happy because the team worked so hard on the car, and everything. You know, I talk a lot with my engineer. I'm very, very happy to be on the podium today.
THE MODERATOR: Tag, this is your second race with this team. You also kept your nose out of trouble. What was it like out there?
ALEX TAGLIANI: For us it was pretty tough. It seems that I was always at the wrong place at the wrong time. Wish we would have had the chance to run longer on the green. On the first stop, I knew that our tire pressure was a little bit low. But, you know, the history of this track, there's a lot of yellows in the first 50% of the track, and after that it's pretty clean. You know, it was never really a long run. It was always start after restart and restart.
I think we should have went for a good car for four or five laps and not like focus so much on a consistent car. It was difficult. I lost a couple spots on restart. AJ passed me going into turn one. I lost a couple of spots because of that. Then I was just trying to come back into the best position for the team. I think third, two races with this team, I think they're showing that they're really strong, they have good potential. It's their first year with the Lola. So there's definitely more to come for this team.
THE MODERATOR: With Bruno's win, that gives Newman/Haas Racing 84 wins since 1983, which ties Marlboro Team Penske for the most open-wheel wins since 1983 with 84. Bruno, talk about the heat out there. Was it worse during the yellow conditions or when the track was green and you were work ago lot harder?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Was hot. When they changed the date of this race, now middle of May is really hot here. So it was very physical. This is why it made the last two years -- last year and this year, have so many yellows, I think drivers make a lot of mistakes in the heat.
I didn't have much time to work out because I was in Indianapolis. I spent a couple of days in Miami and I went for three hours bike ride from 1:00 to 4:00 on the heat of the day. I knew that would help me.
So I finished the race pretty strong. Also had a lot of yellows. Another way, got so much pickups on the yellows, the restarts were always really hard, first two laps. Almost all the restarts I was good. But a couple of them, I did really bad. It was really hard to keep concentrate on cold tires all the time on the restart.
THE MODERATOR: Andrew, what did the heat do to you out there? You only have one more position to go to get first with the young time you've been with this team.
ANDREW RANGER: I'm sure, you know, the team worked very hard for my second time in Champ Car. It was a tough race. The temperature was very hot. Humidity was hot, too. I worked hard. I talk a lot with my engineer on the microphone. You know, I never stopped pushing.
It was a big fight. Sometime I fought with Jimmy Vasser. He was pretty tough. But, you know, it's racing. You know, I'm very proud about the team. The first podium ever for Mi-Jack Conquest, and it's me. I think I'm very happy for the team, very proud about the team. You know, it's a long time the team don't finish well. You know, I'm very happy for that.
THE MODERATOR: Questions.
Q: Bruno, could you talk about what it was like in the latter stages of the race when you were behind Bjorn Wirdheim? You probably had a pretty good idea he was saving fuel and didn't know if he was going to make it to the end. On the one hand, I'm sure you wanted to get around him, but on the other you were probably thinking he was going to have to pit, how you just had to kind of be patient and aggressive. One other question. Again towards the end, I saw one time you got very loose in the fast right-hander at the back of the racetrack. If you could talk about that.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Was really hard, even before Wirdheim, when I was behind Oriol, I know that both guys had to pit. Just one point, so many yellows, the teams thought maybe they don't have to pit. So I was saving fuel, as well, because I had to save a little bit of fuel, then I could go full fuel in the end. I had a couple of opportunities to pass Oriol, but I remember Mid-Ohio 2003 when he crashed, so he has nothing to lose, not going to play easy for me. So I try to wait the right moment, and he wouldn't made a mistake.
Wirdheim, I made some pressure. Maybe he was making mistakes. When I had the opportunity, I pass him. Was really hard. Especially when I saw that Tracy was out of the race and Sebastien was in the back of the race, like P7 or 8 at that time, so you cannot take as many risks, especially on a very slippery track out of the race line here. So I was kind of get the pass, but really precise. Like early in the race, I passed Tag, I passed Cristiano, but I had to do it. Later in the race, when I was in front of my main opponents in the championship, so I have to think very careful to not make a mistake. The end, I took the upper-hand and everything was great.
About this loose thing, I don't remember. I have to say in a race, you always make two or three mistakes throughout the race, like you lose two or three tenths. But apart of that, I had a really good race. I was very concentrate to make no mistakes. I knew that that was very possible on this track. For sure the cars go sideways a lot here because there is not much grip, so it was exciting for the fans. Maybe for sure I had some sideways, but I think was everything under control.
Q: Could all three of you discuss about the mental demands of the race. We know how physically demanding. Again, Bruno, you talked about the need to not make any mistakes. All three of you are up here on the podium because you made much fewer mistakes than anybody else today. Very slippery racetrack, very slippery off line. If you could just talk about the mental demands of having to drive correctly and keep it under control.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I have to say this is one of the most difficult races, first because the track is very slippery. It was slick throughout the weekend. How many red flags we have on the practice session? Second, because the curb here is not forgiving. If you make a mistake, you brake the tub or the engine or whatever. And, third, is very hot.
This race, we had so many yellow flags that, again, the restarts were really, really hard as well. So putting everything together was really hard. It was side-by-side racing. We have a lot of action, a lot of passing, so that made it really, really hard.
In my opinion, I think I had -- I made no mistakes and I had a really good race car because I could run fast, and incredible fuel mileage. If we had like one full green race length, I am sure I could go a lap further than everybody because my car was so good on fuel mileage today. I could drive low 16s just easy doing a great mileage.
ANDREW RANGER: For me was the same thing. Had to be very smooth with the brake, with the gas, because it's very, very slippery. It's tough because the temperature was so hot, I put my mind down. But it's very, very tough to watch the curbs because the curb is very big here. If you touch, and sometimes the car goes sideways, and you need to be very careful for that.
But I think today, you know, I work hard, I put my head down, and was fantastic for me. You know, I start 14th, finished second. It's unbelievable for me, crazy. You know, the team work hard. You know, the track, it's very, very slippery. You need to be very smooth with the throttle, too, with the brake. But was very fun for me and we're very happy.
ALEX TAGLIANI: Training in Vegas is the way to go. I have no problems physically. It was fine. The biggest problem we had during the race is that we decided to go with the strategy where we thought it was going to run for many, many laps. And on the first stop I was talking with Rob Edwards, he said, "Okay, should we go more tire pressure?" I said, "Well, I think it's going to be green most of the race after 50%." It was basically restart after restart. That's where, you know, the race was played.
And on top of that, you know, it's a fuel-saving race so you're not pushing like you're pushing in qualifying, you know, every lap. So I was okay. It's a slippery track, so you don't have as much grip, so you're not working as much. But it's easy to make mistakes. Like if you touch a curb, you destroy the car. But that's the challenge of the racetrack.
But today was basically a fight on every restart of the race. The guys that decided to go, you know, high tire pressure was a good gamble. I can see some lap times run in the first 10 laps of the race, and they never been able to match that lap. So that means those guys were aiming for a quick car in the first five, six laps of every restart.
Q: What was your take on the incident between Sebastien and PT? After it happened, when Cristiano ended up on the dirt beside you, what did you see of that?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: When Sebastien went to pass PT on turn five, I was already inside of Cristiano. I pass Cristiano there. So I couldn't see much on both guys. I was concentrating pass Cristiano. So is really hard to say.
And then was really hard because Sebastien had a flat tire. He did a line flat, he did really slow, and Cristiano had a run on me. I said, "Where Cristiano is going?" He braked really deep. Oh, was really close. He beat me, but I was able to keep the car on the track. I think the race was pretty much decided there. I mean, on that lap I was able to pass Cristiano, then Tracy and Sebastien. One lap I pass all the top three strong guys on the race. Other one I pass Tagliani. I think that was crucial moment of the race.
Q: How do the drivers prepare for the extreme heat, which is the concentration on this race, i.e., dehydration? How did all of you prepare for it?
ANDREW RANGER: Last night I watch Meet the Fockers on TV. That was my mental preparation.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I'll tell a funny story. The people in the team were really concerned how hot, hot, hot. But I like cycling. I know yesterday and today in the Giro D'Italia, the guy that won, 231 kilometers stage, the same guy. He won yesterday in 6 hours, 32 minutes. Today 6 hours, 48 minutes. I bet in Italy is very hot as well. So I think this guy did 6 hours, 40 minutes, I can do a two-hours race full speed.
THE MODERATOR: Gentlemen, thank you very much. We'll see you in Milwaukee.