FRIDAY QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT FROM MAZDA CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND PRESENTED BY JOE'S SPORTS AND OUTDOOR An interview with: Justin Wilson Robert Doornbos Sebastien Bourdais THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone.
FRIDAY QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT FROM MAZDA CHAMP CAR GRAND PRIX OF PORTLAND PRESENTED BY JOE'S SPORTS AND OUTDOOR
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to our top three press conference following this afternoon's first round of qualifying for the Mazda Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland, presented by Joe's Sports and Outdoor.
Our third quickest qualifier today was Sebastien Bourdais, with a time of 58.308 seconds, a speed of 121.26 miles per hour.
Sebastien, you had problems during the practice before the start of the qualifying session.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, well, we ended up running out of fuel. Nothing major. I guess sorry for the other guys.
THE MODERATOR: Then you went out on your second stint with the red tires. How were they today?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: We don't know. We don't exactly know what happened. But for some reason the car went from acceptable to pretty bad in the second run and couldn't really improve. It was a little disappointing. I think we got a downshift issue. Again, should I say, with the strategy on the paddle shift in the first run, that really ruined the first run. I thought there was a lot more in the car. Then put the reds on, made a little adjustment, went back out, and the whole thing was gone. There was no grip any more.
So I hope we're going to find something on the setup because otherwise I have no idea what happened.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Sebastien.
Robert Doornbos was second quickest today with a time of 58.214, speed of 121.455 miles an hour.
Robert, what is it like to come back to a traditional road course here in a Champ Car?
ROBERT DOORNBOS: Well, it's fun to drive again on a normal circuit. As for the session, I can agree with Sebastien on two things. I know how it is to run out of fuel. I had it in Long Beach. It's quite embarrassing. About the car, we had upshift problems as well. It's just a disaster. We just can't seem to get rid of it. It takes time away from you. Just try to drive around it and focus on a good lap, and we did it. We managed a good time. Hopefully it rains tomorrow and then we can practice that a little about it for Sunday as well.
THE MODERATOR: Do you think you learned something about the car that you could maybe even go quicker if the rain does hold off for tomorrow?
ROBERT DOORNBOS: It's not a great car, to be honest, if you look on the paper, but it worked for the lap time. We might do something special again, maybe find a bit of more time.
THE MODERATOR: Our provisional polesitter is Justin Wilson, driver of the #9 CDW entry. Justin set a fast lap of 58.000 seconds, a speed of 121.903 miles per hour.
Justin, pretty spectacular lap out there.
JUSTIN WILSON: Thanks. Yeah, everything went quite well. We're pleased with the performance. I'm very happy with the way the whole team has been working and improving. We're just getting stronger and stronger and learning all the time.
The lap itself was feeling quite good. We kept working away at it. Got a little bit of traffic on a few laps, but managed to put one lap together and it felt good. The option tires just added more grip. We didn't actually touch the setup between the two runs. We just put tires on. It worked very well.
We're quite pleased. We feel like we've got some more in reserve for tomorrow if it does stay dry. Other than that, you know, we're quite happy.
THE MODERATOR: With today's lap, Justin has guaranteed himself a starting spot on the front row for Sunday's race, along with one championship point.
Justin, you have four poles, one coming here at Portland in 2005. What is it about this road course that you do so well on?
JUSTIN WILSON: I don't know (laughter). I like the circuit. I like the way it flows and the speed of it. You know, I think the main thing is you need to be aggressive, but you also need to be controlled. I like that aspect of this track. You can't overdrive, but at the same time you can't afford not to push it right to the limit. It flows well and I guess I like that.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Justin.
We'll open it up to questions from our assembled media here.
Q: Justin you were unable to topple the track record are you surprised?
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it looks like good conditions, but with this racetrack, the warmer it gets, the more we lose grip. The air density I guess changes, we don't have the downforce. We don't have the tire grip. It definitely gets greasy and we slide around more.
I think if it cools off tomorrow and it doesn't actually rain, we should see the times go a lot quicker. Like in the test, I think Sebastien was down at a 57.1. A bit more time in it. We'll also find a few issues. Since we've got the Panoz, we can't get it down to the weight limit that's specified. We know we're giving away 2 to 3/10ths a lap just carrying excess weight around. We feel like once that gets corrected - if that gets corrected - we'll be in good shape.
Q: Sebastien, I don't know if it was an optical illusion but it looked like at one point you slowed down out there?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I was kind of feeling that the tires were not up to temp. It was just trying to warm that up because the grip never came. I don't know if we got a bad tire or something happened on the setup. Like I said, we haven't had time to look at anything. Got no idea what happened, but something wasn't right for sure.
Q: Justin, you had a tumultuous off-season. Is there anything different now?
JUSTIN WILSON: You know, the team has changed quite a lot. There's a couple of things going on. One is, it takes us longer to react to different scenarios that are out of the ordinary because we have fewer personnel and more inexperienced personnel.
But on the opposite side I think the people we've got are very good. They've learned over the first three races and we're building momentum, getting stronger. The main thing is we're taking it one step at a time, so we're learning as we're going. We feel pretty confident that we know what we're doing and we know how to get there.
Q: It might rain tomorrow, how do you feel competing in the wet?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think it puts on great races. Obviously if you change tires, you've got different strategies, it's a little tough on the drivers, but I think that's what makes the race pretty exciting. It's always the case you see more bad things, a bit different, it's pretty cool.
JUSTIN WILSON: The best thing is you can bang wheels without knocking people off (laughter).
ROBERT DOORNBOS: I'm Dutch. I just enjoy driving in the wet, so for me it's no problem.
Q: Robert, how much is the track sensitive to a change in the temperature?
ROBERT DOORNBOS: No, yeah, for sure, this morning you felt with the tires going out, it takes a while for them to warm up in the colder conditions. Last couple races we had quite nice conditions. No, it's always good to see the sun. The track changes a bit.
But I was surprised as well, like Justin said, that the track wasn't a lot quicker with so many cars driving on it today as during the test. They went into the 57s quite easily. Yeah, I think track temperature makes a lot of difference, also for the tires, for the red one or the black one. I struggled also a little bit on the red one. Hopefully we can improve it for tomorrow.
Q: I want to see hands of those drivers that look forward to a standing start?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: We'll see how it goes. For me there's still the doubt of the car stalling. Hopefully it will be okay. For me it's not good, for sure. I just hope nobody gets hurt out of it. I guess I'm talking as the safety representative. But, you know, that's all I can say. For the other drivers, I just hope nobody stalls at the front because obviously by the time the back markers get to you, it could be a potentially pretty ugly crash. So we'll see.
JUSTIN WILSON: It's definitely spectacular, the standing start, I think is very exciting. I said to a few of you guys already that I'm looking forward to it. But at the same time it's not guaranteed that you won't stall. It doesn't seem like there's many things that the driver does that changes that. It's just very random. When it happens, there's very little you can do. I haven't found anything you can do yet. It's just pretty much one in four the car will stall and you don't know what you did wrong. So that makes you nervous.
You know, hopefully it won't happen and we can get a good start. I think it will be a great spectacle.
ROBERT DOORNBOS: Yeah, same for me. Obviously I'm used to the standing starts, having raced in Europe in different series. Just last year it was so easy with the computer program in the F1 car. You couldn't stall. I mean, obviously here you just stop on the grid.
On the fun side, if you have a bad start or you have a good start, you come from a bad position, you can make up a lot of places. With the rolling starts, I was getting used to them as well.
Yeah, I think it's better. It will be spectacular for sure.
JUSTIN WILSON: I'd like to add that this is a driver's championship and that's why we all enjoy driving in it. Having the variety between the rolling and the standing is good. Hopefully we won't lose the rolling starts. I think that's part of racing in Champ Car, is rolling starts. And I'm sure Sebastien agrees, driving on different types of circuits is what it's all about. We miss not having an oval just because it adds another element of experience and skill that you have to learn.
Q: How much push to pass will you have this weekend?
JUSTIN WILSON: I believe the usual.
Q: What impact will the 6 week break have on the season?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think everybody's been pretty busy, at least for me. So it was a good thing. I don't know. I don't know if you have any effect. The month of May is pretty much booked up for the IRL. It's probably a good thing that we don't try and compete because it would just be a waste. Now at least we go back in a time where we can show how good the racing is and try and put on good shows and show that Champ Car is as good as anything else, if not better.
JUSTIN WILSON: Same thing. Sebastien said it all.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, everyone, for coming out. Qualifying for tomorrow will be at 2:00. That's where we'll set the final grid for Sunday's race.