CHAMPCAR/CART: Roberto Moreno pre-season interview

Roberto Moreno was interviewed on the weekly CART teleconference. T. E. McHale: We want to welcome Roberto Moreno of Patrick Racing, the third place finisher in the FedEx Championship Series championship. Thanks for being with us this...

Roberto Moreno was interviewed on the weekly CART teleconference.

T. E. McHale: We want to welcome Roberto Moreno of Patrick Racing, the third place finisher in the FedEx Championship Series championship. Thanks for being with us this afternoon.

Roberto Moreno:  Good afternoon.  I had to take a break from my
testing.  The engineers are a little excited, but there's not a problem. 

T. E. McHale: Thank you very much. Just a quick update on Roberto's performance last year. The driver of the No. 20 Visteon Toyota Reynard is entering his eighth season in the FedEx Championship Series, and his second with Patrick Racing. He comes off a spectacular 2000 season which saw him establish several career milestones including his first career FedEx Championship victory and pole position, both at Cleveland. He also had podium finishes of second at Homestead and Portland, and third at Japan and Gateway while scoring championship points in 14 of 20 starts.

Roberto finished second in the FedEx Championship Series to Patrick Racing teammate Adrian Fernandez in laps completed, with 2576 of a possible 2830, and in miles completed with 4259.301 of a possible 4779.696. Roberto finished third in the 2000 FedEx Championship Series with 147.

With that we'll open it up to questions.

Roberto, can you talk a little bit about what it's like having a new teammate? What's been the team chemistry between you and Jimmy Vasser this year?

Roberto Moreno: It's always a question mark when you working with a new teammate. From the first day, I always felt very positive about Jimmy joining the team because he brings a lot of experience to the team. Jimmy is very easygoing and we've been working together very, very well, extremely well. Jimmy, you know, he's out there, very excited about his new opportunity again. Suddenly he found himself a team, Patrick Racing. Mr. Patrick gave him the opportunity. He's so pleased, he's pushing so hard every single step of the way. So far has been a great relationship and I think it's only going to grow.

In the season that we doing less and less testing, experienced people matters. It's very, very important. I'm very, very proud to drive for Mr. Patrick. As you can see, he's taking an extra effort in hiring Jimmy, although he hasn't yet finalized the sponsorship of the team. So that shows the commitment that Mr. Patrick has to winning. It's working really well. I think it's only going to grow.

I should add, very, very important this year to have that when you have no testing throughout the season.

Last year you started out very strong. The team was very strong. You had a few situations towards the middle of the season, then you kind of struggled to maintain everything towards the end of the season. Has the team sat down and figured out what it was that you were missing last year that's going to make you stay up in that No. 1 position for the whole season?

Roberto Moreno: If you look last year, talking a little bit about last year, I think it gets tougher towards the end of the year, you know. People learn and just develop and it gets tougher.

We had our ups and downs. I made a couple of mistakes myself. We struggled to qualify well. That's basically our main problem. We always had a very, very good race car in the race, good balance, good strategy, extremely good strategy with the team.

I should add to what TE was saying about myself at the beginning, I could only achieve all those results last year because Patrick Racing, they a big part of that because the strategy, the way they always had the car reliable. So a strong point this year I think is having a consistency again. Finishing the races, it's always going to be very, very important. That's the biggest and strongest point of Patrick Racing.

I think we going -- we are working very hard to qualify better, and we have achieved that so far on the tests we've done. We always been within the fastest, if not the fastest. We have improved that space for qualifying already and that's why we are here in Homestead doing one step again. It's proving again to be very fast here on a very hot day.

So I think we've approached -- we've reacted to that situation very well, and when the flag drops, I'm not worried because we always have very, very good strategy.

We do have a new engine this year, Toyota, and seems to be very, very strong, very reliable. I think if we keep it that way, we'll be looking forward for this year, too.

I'm looking at a track map of the first race of the year.  Jimmy
has been down there.  Have you guys had a chance to talk about where the
potential passing is going to happen?  Give us your thoughts.  

Roberto Moreno: Well, unfortunately we haven't talked too much about that. Jimmy only driven rental car there. It seems to be very wide. If the circle is clean, there will be passing in many places. If it's one of those places where you need to make the line clean, we only will know that once we start driving to see how the grip level is, we will know. Unfortunately, I couldn't answer that precisely at the moment to you.

But I'm making an effort to fly there on Monday to start going around the track, walking around and learning every single bit that I can learn before I drive there.

I assume by what he said that it's a pretty easy place to pass. It's one of those places that to be on the limit, you have to push a little more than what you believe you can.

Roberto, I just wanted to get some of your comments regarding the Rio 200 race being canceled. What are your thoughts on that? Can I get your thoughts on what that means to you?

Roberto Moreno: Basically I'm the one most affected with it, of all the Brazilian drivers, because I was born in Rio. It's my hometown. It's extremely frustrating for me not to go and race there. It's a race that was going, it was getting better, people were starting to like to go to that race.

To know that politics got in the middle of sports, only because (inaudible) was supporting the old mayor, and the new mayor got in and tried to make a point of him from what I understand, say, "There's no money for you." It's extremely frustrating, you know, to a point that I say I just have to live with it.

It's one of those races that you want to do well, you want to race in front of your crowd and do well. Also on the other side, anytime that politics get involved in front of sport is no good. But I'm sure we going to turn it around because Brazil has a lot of force in racing. It's just the mayor of Rio that come off the base and there's not enough reaction time for the organizers to take to another place.

I'm sure this still going to come back, hopefully next year or this year if they have a chance to find a gap. Probably in a different place now. There are many, many places in Brazil that would love to have a race like champ car. It's just a matter of time to organize it.

T. E. McHale: With that we will thank Roberto Moreno of Patrick Racing for joining us this afternoon. I guess you can get back in the car. Best of luck to you in the 2001 FedEx Championship Series.

Roberto Moreno: Thank you very much. I appreciate all of you being involved.


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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno