CHAMPCAR/CART: Road America: Top-three press conference, part II

Press conference from The Mario Andretti Grand Prix at Road America Presented By Briggs & Stratton with Bruno Junqueira, Sebastien Bourdais and Alex Tagliani Part 2 of 2. Eric Mauk: Congratulations. Bruno leads the way with points with ...

Press conference from The Mario Andretti Grand Prix at Road America Presented By Briggs & Stratton with Bruno Junqueira, Sebastien Bourdais and Alex Tagliani

Part 2 of 2.

Eric Mauk: Congratulations. Bruno leads the way with points with 164; Paul Tracy is three back with 161; Michel Jourdain, Jr., 125 in third; Sebastien is fourth with 116; and Patrick Carpentier of Player's in fifth with 98 points. We'll take questions from the media.

Q. Sebastien, during the first two yellow flag times, you were saying on the radio that you really thought the conditions were okay to go racing, that you didn't think we needed a red flag. Hindsight, how do you feel about that now? Do you think you could have gone racing at that point?

Sebastien Bourdais: Oh, yeah. I didn't change my mind. I mean, we had a very good setup on the car. It was rainy conditions. I don't go over what we did after the rain break. It was damp. It was not wet. Then I think it's just a matter of knowing if we want to do rain races or not, if you want to compete or not. Then maybe it's not worth buying rain tires.

Eric Mauk:  Alex and Bruno, you went through a similar situation last
year in Australia where the start was along the same situations.  We went
ahead and started it.  We all know what happened there.

Alex Tagliani: No, no, no, no. It was not the same situation.

Sebastien Bourdais: It's not a street course.

Alex Tagliani: I mean, it's different. Street course, you're surrounded by walls and you don't have any lateral visibility. On a road course, that is wide open like this one, yes, you have spray in front of you and it's difficult to see, but you can still see laterally because there's a lot of open spaces. The wet in Surfers Paradise, I mean, there was not even one place that there were not puddles. I mean, there was about two inches of water everywhere.

When they red flagged the race here, there were no puddle. I heard comments on the radio from the truck going around. They said, "There's no standing water." Okay, it rained, but it rained, like a rain race. There's difference of opinions. There's one section on the racetrack, the kink going to Canada Corner that there's walls, and it's a tunnel, so it's pretty difficult to see. But I think the track did a great job in not having this little river in the back straightaway. So without standing water, I didn't really understand why we had to red flag the race.

Eric Mauk: Bruno, your thoughts?

Bruno Junqueira: I think when you tried to do the first laps, the track was doable for race. But I think Lavin spun just before going green. And then after the rain picked up more, for me that was leading the race, it looks okay. But after talk some drivers that were a little bit further down the grid, they told me that they couldn't see the spray. For my experience, after 130, 140 miles per hour, the spray of the cars is so big that the guys behind you cannot see. And in some street courses, in some racetracks, the rain, you go like 140 miles per hour, 170, 160, one or two seconds in one straight line, that time on the racetrack you cannot see.

But like on this track, the straight lines are so long, you going to do like 180 miles per hour even in the rain. You are going to spend like five or six seconds in each of the long straightaways above 130, 140 miles per hour, then you going to stay a long time without see a thing. Not me, not Sebastien, but the guy that's starting 10th or 12th, you know. And you have a lot blind corners.

Alex Tagliani: 13th (laughter).

Bruno Junqueira: 13th, yeah.

Sebastien Bourdais: It's a problem.

Bruno Junqueira: Let me finish (laughter).

Sebastien Bourdais: It's always been like that.

Bruno Junqueira: It's always been like that. But I think the decision of CART to wait a little bit, wait the track got a little bit dryer, with less spray, was good because at least today everybody goes home in one piece. In Surfer's, for sure, it is a street course and is more difficult. There are some guys that couldn't go home in one piece. I've been in some road courses, like Hockenheim, long straightaway in the rain, there was a massive accident, as well. I think is difficult to say what could happen if we start the race earlier or not. But that was -- the CART decision was this one. Nobody got hurt. Thank God. Let's start looking forward.

Alex Tagliani: I had a suggestion. Street course, in my opinion, are pretty dangerous when it's really wet, when there's puddles. I mean, you can't see anything. It's not wide. As soon as there's a cloud of spray in front of you, you can't see on the side. You have no reference. You're in the middle of walls. You're afraid to turn the steering wheel because you don't know where you're going.

I understand, but what I would suggest is we have to make a rule. If it's not visible, then we are only going to start the race when it's damp, or we're not going to start the race until it's dry. Then people know. Because what happened today, again, there was like probably four or five teams making up their mind an hour before the race, and then they're drying the track. So we have to know those things before. I don't mind racing when it's dry only or when it's wet, but we have to know before.

Sebastien Bourdais: I'm exactly the same mind than Alex. Basically it's just a matter of being fair for everybody. We have to choose the setup for the race. Knowing the conditions were really wet, I was one of the guys that picked wet setup, okay. The race is supposed to start with heavy rain, they supposed to put the green flag. If they don't want to do it, they don't have to start the race and they don't have to put you on the track. It's the only thing I said. Now, for sure it was the safe thing to do. But the second question is, do we really want now to say, okay, do we want to race in these conditions or not? But if we don't want to, let's not start the meeting. This is all I said. Leave us changing the setup when you dry the track.

Q. Bruno, last weekend when you said after a race that you really thought you could win here, favorite track, very important race for the championship. You really needed to beat Tracy, who was quick here. You achieved all those things, fastest all weekend, did that. What is your comment from that point of view about really achieving that particular goal that you wanted to do very much here?

Bruno Junqueira: Yeah, that was very good. I mean, last year I lost the championship in three races: Cleveland, Toronto and Vancouver. They were back-to-back races, three races that I didn't score points. And I was kind of not very confident for those three races, and got in trouble.

But Tracy did very well and got a lead on me on the championship. But I knew that I had to win a race this year to keep motivated and keep the team believing that you can do well the championship, you know. I know that my best shot to win a pole and win a race was this racetrack because I always did well here, did well in the test. And Tracy was for sure after winning two races in Canada really strong in his head and you know that in any sport it is very important if you're very strong in the head. I think he came here very confident that he could win again, especially because of his success in the past. And I was very confident I could win, as well, because of my success in the past.

I was pressuring myself extra this weekend to do very well. I knew I had to turn the table and start to do better than him. I think everything came great for me this weekend. I mean, Tracy raced twice in Canada. That's his home. I don't know, I think because of this is cheese head here, this place has been my home. In my state in Brazil, we are famous with cheese, as well. I think here is my home in the US, you know. Then I got my win at home. But I also consider Mid-Ohio my home, and Denver, and California as well (laughter).

Q. With the pit coming so late and so close to the checkered, were any of you at all concerned, particularly the speeds that that you were running the last few laps with fuel towards the end?

Bruno Junqueira: No. I think the pit windows, the new rules, are really good because you don't have to think about fuel. That was great. Even if this race started on a dry racetrack, maybe we'll have to save fuel a little bit for the first stint because of the two parade laps. But I mean because of the rain, you don't spend as much fuel as you used to. And that's good about the CART rules of the pit stops. Sometimes it makes it a little bit complicated, but is make much more difficult for someone to win from the back, and you don't have to save fuel, then you can go race. That's the best thing.

Sebastien Bourdais: I think it's easier. The plan was saving a bit of fuel in the first stint if it was try, we were pretty okay.

Alex Tagliani: Yeah, same thing.

Sebastien Bourdais: Same engine, same car, don't have much chance to be different.

Eric Mauk: Congratulations, gentlemen. Thank you for attending.

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Part I

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Mario Andretti , Sébastien Bourdais , Michel Jourdain