CHAMPCAR/CART: St. Pete: Friday top-three qualifying press conference, Part I

Top-three press conference with Sebastien Bourdais, Bruno Junquiera and Oriol Servia Part 1 of 2 Eric Mauk: We'll begin the first post-qualifying session of the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford campaign. ...

Top-three press conference with Sebastien Bourdais, Bruno Junquiera and Oriol Servia

Part 1 of 2

Eric Mauk: We'll begin the first post-qualifying session of the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford campaign. We have two of our top three qualifiers here for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. We're joined by Oriol Servia and Bruno Junqueira. Oriol, the driver of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Ford-Cosworth Lola/Bridgestone, ran the third best lap of the day, an effort of 1:02.062, that's 113.419 miles an hour. That would give him his best ever starting spot in this his Champ car career. Oriol, tell me about your run. How do you feel about the way things went today?

Oriol Servia: Congratulations to Sebastien (Bourdais). I feel good. It's good to be here. As you say, it's been a while for me in a press conference. It feels really good. I think like Bruno, we were very frustrated because of traffic. Obviously, Sebastien was very quick, but he was smarter and got out of sequence and got a clear track. For the rest of us, it was just impossible. I mean, a lot of traffic. But you know how the rules are, and you got to play them. Maybe we didn't play our best.

But I'm very happy with how the car is. In the 10 minutes of practice before qualifying, I was the fastest. I think it shows the car is pretty good on all kinds of rubber out there. I'm very confident, very happy with the team, how it's working. The guys had to change an engine just before qualifying because we lost it in the morning. They did it very quick, very good. Everybody is very excited. We're looking forward to start with the right foot.

Mauk: Thoughts on the racetrack?

Servia: It's really, really nice. The back chicane, it's extremely, extremely quick, which is a lot of fun for the drivers. In the race, it may be a little bit dangerous, but right now it's very, very good. The rest I think will provide a good race for the fans. There's a couple of places that you can overtake, quite wide. These cars, it's easy to make mistakes. I'm sure you're going to see a lot of overtaking taking place on Sunday.

Mauk: We're also joined by Bruno Junqueira, driver of the #1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth Lola/Bridgestone, the second best time of the day with a time of 1:01.918, equating to 105.003 miles per hour. Bruno, you are second best on the day. Tell us how it went for you.

Bruno Junqueira: Qualifying wasn't too good this time. You went very early trying to get a clear track. Since my second lap, people came out of the pits. I did five timed laps having to pass someone. I got one good lap, but was still passing someone inside of turn one. I was like half a tenth behind Sebastien. I thought I could wait till the end of the session because I knew the track would pick up a little bit of grip. You wait until the end of the session. We made some changes on the car. The car was very good. Just came out, had a red flag, came out again, first lap, had a red flag again.

The end of the session, I just could do one timed lap. When I was clear to do the second timed lap, they waved the checkered flag. I don't know why. Our team was supposed to have time left. After the last red flag, CART said on the radio they would just start the counting when the first guy cross the finish line, and they didn't do that. That took out my chance to get close to Sebastien. But, I mean, second place is not bad. I can't complain. I think the PacifiCare car was really good today. Whole Newman/Haas did a very good job to put cars 1 and 2. I'm quite happy with that.

Mauk: Two long practice sessions and a qualifying session under your belt, do you have some idea where the parts on the track are where you need to be good, where you can make up time?

Junqueira: First of all, I like this track. I think CART and the St. Petersburg people did a very good job to prepare the track for the first time we came here. You're not going to need many changes for next year on this track. The track is already very good. I've been very fast, as usual, on the high-speed corners. It has some high-speed corners. But for sure I have to improve myself in a little bit the car setup like on the Mickey Mouse path on turn four, five, six, those low corners. It's not that I don't like or I don't do good, but it's very difficult for me to find a car I feel confident to attack the corners. I think I did that for this afternoon. The car was better.

For the second set of new tires, I think the car was much better. For sure the track has picked up a lot of grip. It's a shame that I couldn't get a lap. I was frustrated with that, I think. I don't know if I could beat Sebastien or not. I'm sure it could be really close. But it's very frustrating when you don't know how fast you can go. That's a little bit sad. I mean, there's going to be 19 races and 38 qualifyings, a little less because some are going to be ovals. I'm sure I'm going to get frustrated a lot of times and I'm going to get happy a lot of times that the things go on my way.

Mauk: We are now joined by the provisional polesitter for the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #2 Newman/Haas Ford-Cosworth Lola/Bridgestone. He earned the provisional pole with a best lap of 1:01.676, 105.415 miles per hour, picking up where he left off in spring training when he was the fastest over the three days of testing. The effort guarantees him a front row starting spot regardless of what happens tomorrow and puts him in line to be the first rookie to win a pole in his Champ Car debut since 1993, when Nigel Mansell turned the trick with Newman/Haas racing. Tell us about your run today.

Sebastien Bourdais: I think we were not expecting such a good result. Newman/Haas gave me an incredible car, I think. We didn't change a lot on the baseline. The work we did with the car in Sebring was very good. We were up there. The balance was immediately good. I've been able to get the confidence, to push pretty hard straightaway.

Once again, the experience of the 3000, with having no prepractice session, has been very helpful. That gave me the opportunity to push really, really hard straightaway and to start to work early. I don't know, but we did the first part of the job. Anyway, what is going to be the weather tomorrow, we will be at least in second position. It's a big satisfaction. I'm thankful for the team for the job they did. I hope to be like this many times.

Mauk: Last rookie to win a Champ Car pole is Bruno, winning in Nazareth his rookie year. You guys have been fast all the way through. Are you surprised how fast you have been so early on?

Servia: I didn't expect Bruno to be fast at all this year (laughter).

Mauk: Sebastien?

Bourdais: No comment (laughter).

Part II

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