CHAMPCAR/CART: Montreal: NHR drivers pre-race notes

Newman/Haas Racing's Junqueira and Bourdais hope competitiveness on road courses will aid their quest for victory in this weekend's Molson Indy Montreal. MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (August 20, 2003) --- Montreal is the site of the third and final...

Newman/Haas Racing's Junqueira and Bourdais hope competitiveness on road courses will aid their quest for victory in this weekend's Molson Indy Montreal.

MONTREAL, Quebec, Canada (August 20, 2003) --- Montreal is the site of the third and final round of the Canadian Triple Crown for the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford and Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) drivers Bruno Junqueira and Sebastien Bourdais hope to continue to be among the top contenders for victory. After strong performances on this type of track, both Junqueira and Bourdais agree that 2.709-mile Circuit Gilles Villeneuve road course on the Ile. Notre Dame in Montreal, Quebec, Canada should suit the Newman/Haas Racing-prepared entries.

"The PacifiCare car has been very strong on this type of course and I have a feeling that we can continue this and run in front in Montreal, which is very important for us at this time in the Championship," said Junqueira, who temporarily held the championship lead but is now ranked second with six events to go.

Junqueira lost the lead in the previous race in Ohio after he failed to score points due to being hit early in the race which resulted in a 13th place finish while his main rival, Canadian Paul Tracy, scored the maximum of 23 points. He enters Round 14 of 19 with a 20 points deficit to Tracy (184-164) who has won the other two Canadian events this season -- both on street courses in Toronto and Vancouver. In addition to attempting to become the first to win all three Canadian events, Tracy is aiming to bring his sponsor Player's a victory in their final Champ Car race in their homeland after a long involvement. Despite all of Tracy's extra motivation, Junqueira thinks he can give him a run for his money on the Montreal road course and receive some vindication from a lost podium finish in the inaugural event when his engine failed with 12 laps to go.

"We lost the (championship) lead at the last race and need to make up the 20-point gap that we now have," said Junqueira. "I think, for sure, all of the Canadian drivers will be strong in Montreal - especially Paul Tracy. I think also that Sebastien, my teammate will be strong because I'm sure Newman/Haas Racing will give both of us good cars but I hope I will be in front of all of them. The race (last year) was a little bit disappointing for me after being fast in qualifying. I qualified third and was very close to Cristiano and Dario Franchitti and was running strong in second place in the race and just after my last pit stop when the podium (finish) was in my mind, the engine let go and I didn't finish the race. It was disappointing after a long, long race not to score any points."

Not only did Junqueira relinquish the points lead at the previous event, he also failed to finish in the top-five for only the second time in 13 races this season. As most drivers are capable of doing, Junqueira put the event behind him and has used the rare off-weekend before the Montreal event to resume his training regime of cycling and weight training in preparation for one of his favorite races of the year.

"Last year in Montreal we had a good event with a lot of fans," said Junqueira of the event that drew a three-day attendance of 172,000. "I really enjoyed the weekend and am looking forward to going back. It's one of the nicest races of the year. The Montreal track is a very nice race track. It's pretty smooth with a long straightaway so it's a track where you can pass if you are fast enough. It has a lot of chicanes and I like it because it's pretty technical. It's pretty difficult to get a clear, perfect lap and the race is quite physical as well."

In the 2002 event, NHR driver Cristiano da Matta looked set to win in dominating fashion after he earned the pole position and led the first 35 laps but a pit strategy that proved conservative at the conclusion of the event led to his second place finish to Dario Franchitti. Lilly driver Sebastien Bourdais is looking forward to experiencing it for himself after having watched many races on this track on TV.

"Even though I have never raced on this track I know quite a lot about the course because I have seen the Formula One Grand Prix many times," said Bourdais. "I never went there but I have a good opinion of the track

and a lot of drivers have said they like the course. It seems to be very challenging and interesting and I think it is going to be fun. It's also very interesting to see a comparison between Champ Cars and Formula One cars on the same track."

Since he joined the series as the reigning Formula 3000 Champion, Bourdais has been garnering attention with his competitiveness that has led to three wins and four poles. After his fifth place finish in Ohio, Bourdais became the first rookie in series history to earn five consecutive top-five finishes, a mark that he will look to extend at this weekend's Molson Indy Montreal.

"I think the Newman/Haas team has done a very good job with their cars on this type of track and I'm sure it will be the case on this track as well," said Bourdais who is ranked fourth in the point standings with 126. "I think my Lilly car has been good on any type of the race tracks but I think it particularly suits this type of track."

In 13 Champ Car races to date although he has earned three wins, four poles and a total of five top-three performances. To date Bourdais led in all but four events (of 13), has set the fastest race lap four times (St. Pete, Cleveland, Vancouver, Elkhart Lake) as well as has run in the top-three in all but two races including his three wins. This performance has earned him the respect of his competitors as well as the Champ Car fans and he is looking forward to making new ones in French-speaking Montreal.

"I think I have been well accepted by the Canadian fans as well as the American fans and in Quebec it will be very interesting because I will be able to talk to most of them in French," added Bourdais, 24. I'm looking forward to the race."

A host of activities have and will continue to take place through race weekend. In addition to the usual Thursday press conference and at-track autograph session over the weekend, a "VIP Cocktail Reception & Dinner" will take place at the Montreal Casino on Thursday night, which will be followed by a show. As his teammate Tracy did in the two previous Canadian events, Patrick Carpentier will serve as host for the red carpet studded "Molson Indy Driver VIP Party" on Friday.

The Molson Indy Montreal will take place on Sunday, August 24 at 2:00 p.m. and will be televised on a same-day, tape-delayed basis on SPEED Channel at 9:30 p.m. Saturday's Final Qualifying session will also be televised on SPEED live beginning at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday. Live audio of the CART Champ Car World Series is available for qualifying on Saturday, August 23 beginning at 1:30 p.m. and the Molson Indy Montreal on Sunday, August 24 beginning at 2:00 p.m., on the official web site of the CART Champ Car World Series, www.champcarworldseries.com. All times Eastern.

-mhr-

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Gilles Villeneuve , Sébastien Bourdais , Cristiano da Matta