CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: This week in Ford Racing

This Week in Ford Racing October 21, 2003 CART CHAMP CAR FORD-COSWORTH RESULTS IN AUSTRALIA - Ford-Cosworth powered entries have posted three poles and six wins in Australia since 1992. The first of each came in 1993 with Nigel Mansell ...

This Week in Ford Racing
October 21, 2003

CART CHAMP CAR

FORD-COSWORTH RESULTS IN AUSTRALIA -

Ford-Cosworth powered entries have posted three poles and six wins in Australia since 1992. The first of each came in 1993 with Nigel Mansell winning from the pole. Michael Andretti took the checkered for Ford in 1994 and Paul Tracy made it three in a row for the Blue Oval with his win in 1995. Scott Pruett (1997), Adrian Fernandez (2000) and Mario Dominguez (2002) have all notched victories in Ford-Cosworth powered entries, giving Ford the edge over Toyota, Honda and Chevrolet for victories in Australia.

Mansell and Andretti have the only poles for Ford. Mansell has started first on the grid two times, 1993 and 1994, and Andretti posted the fastest qualifying speed in 1995.

DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP RACE -

Canadian Paul Tracy extended his lead over Bruno Junqueira and Michel Jourdain, Jr. with his win in Mexico City. The win was Tracy's seventh of the season, matching 2002 Champion Cristiano da Matta's total from a year ago. Junqueira lost the most ground in Mexico with his seventh place finish while Jourdain finished fourth in front of his home crowd. The biggest gainer over the past four races has been second year pilot Mario Dominguez. Dominguez has posted three top-fives in his last four races including a win in Miami and a third-place effort in Mexico City. His hot streak has moved him from 10th to sixth in the championship race during that span.

TRACKING THE ROOKIES -

Rookie sensation Sebastien Bourdais finished second for the third time this season clinching rookie-of-the-year honors with two races to go. Bourdais' impressive first season has netted him 10 top-fives and seven podiums to go along with his three victories. His 158 championship points are the most by a rookie since Juan Montoya posted 212 during his 1999 championship run.

The 2003 rookie class was impressive throughout the Mexico City weekend with Darren Manning posting the weekend's fastest lap during the second practice session on Friday. Manning led all drivers during the first two sessions on Friday and was second during the last practice on Saturday and Sunday morning's warm up. Tiago Montiero had his best weekend in a Champ Car as the Fittipaldi-Dingman rookie started second on the grid by posting the fasting time during the second round of qualifying. Mika Salo has also started to get comfortable inside the Champ Car. In only his third race he has two top-fives, including a third in Miami and fifth in Mexico City. Bourdais continues to lead all rookies with 158 championship points, Manning is second with 87, while Mario Haberfeld, 71, Ryan Hunter-Reay, 44, and Monteiro, 29, round out the top five.

Sebastien Bourdais wasted no time making his mark on the Champ Car World Series this season taking the pole in each of his first two races and winning two times in his first five starts in his Ford-Cosworth powered Champ Car. The 24-year old from France has notched three wins during his rookie campaign along with four poles and clinched Rookie-of-the-Year honors with his seventh podium of the year in Mexico City. The confident first-year pilot shared his thoughts on his first year in the North American series and his goals beyond 2003.

Sebastien Bourdais, driver No. 2 Newman/Haas Racing Ford -

HOW HAVE YOU MADE SUCH A SMOOTH TRANSITION FROM FORMULA 3000 TO CHAMP CARS? "I think the big first example of a quick adaptation from Formula 3000 to CART has been Juan Montoya. The cars are pretty close to each other, for sure the Champ Car is heavier and a lot more powerful. There's probably twice as much horsepower, but it also has a lot more downforce, so it's actually just elevating the speed of the package. It's pretty much the same feeling inside the car and since they are both Lola's, you recognize that. So I really didn't lose my references from car to car and that's made it kind of easy for me, and obviously the car is really good with Newman/Haas Racing so that always makes it easier to deal with. I've been in the position to win races and to win pole positions straight away and the confidence builds up and we are in great shape as a team."

DOES COMING TO AN EXPERIENCED TEAM LIKE NEWMAN/HAAS RACING SPEED UP THE LEARNING PROCESS? "For sure. It's a big part of being a race-car driver. As a driver you are just using a tool, and if the tool is good you make good use of it, but if the tool is bad then you really struggle and it's definitely been a big, big help for me, there's no doubt about that."

DID YOU SET ANY GOALS FOR YOURSELF COMING IN TO YOUR ROOKIE SEASON IN CART? "No, I didn't set any specific goals coming into this year, to be honest. I just kind of did my best and worked really hard with my engineers and my mechanics to try to learn as quick as possible and to make as few mistakes as possible. I think that has turned out pretty well because straight away I thought we were in a position not only to take pole positions, like we did from the start, but also we were able to win races. I will say that racing is different in the U.S. and strategy was playing a big part of the game. You just have to accept that sometimes even if you are leading races and looking very good it is not sure that you are going to win the race."

WAS THE START OF THE SEASON A BIT FRUSTRATING SINCE YOU WERE SO GOOD IN QUALIFYING BUT HAD TROUBLE ON RACE DAY? "It's been really hard mentally. Going out and getting the first two pole positions, leading both of the first two races and then having such a bad finish was hard. In the first one and then second one it was team mistakes. We lost the radios and then we screwed up again. We lost the engine in Long Beach when we were running for fourth, even maybe a podium. It has been really tough and difficult at points in the season, but then we went to Europe and everything went back to normal and we won both of the races over there. Racing is not only about working and being fast it's also about being a bit successful at times."

WHAT DOES THIS TEAM HAVE TO DO TO BECOME MORE CONSISTENT? "I don't know, I mean we had a lot of failures that were key, but in the second half we have had very good results. We had very good results going on, like potential podiums in Laguna and Portland, so it has been really frustrating because we feel like we have the potential to run for the lead and to fight for the championship, but on the other hand you have to deal with these problems. Its not just about racing and we see that we are doing our job. It is just a matter of putting everything together, and its not only up to you."

WHAT HAVE YOU HAD TO ADJUST TO AS A DRIVER IN YOUR ROOKIE YEAR? "Well I didn't need to learn too much because I used to do more racing in Europe. I used to do two programs, the F-3000 program and also some GT races, so I was already pretty busy driving a lot of different cars -- from the Viper to the GT Porsche going to 3000's, sports cars and an entry in Formula One. The big difference this year is that I had to be all by myself. I had to leave friends at home and had to settle in somewhere in the U.S. in a country I didn't know and I didn't know anybody and had to fly into different places that I didn't know anything about. This season has been more about adapting my basic life rather than adapting to the racing side of things."

WILL YOU SET GOALS FOR YOURSELF GOING INTO NEXT SEASON? "For sure the target is to win the championship, but I don't want to put too much pressure on myself. If I work hard and I'm a bit lucky I think I can achieve that. I really feel that I could have done it this year with a few different results, we definitely had the speed. I think with one year experience we will be stronger and approach the race weekends with good set-ups and it won't be a big surprise that we looking a lot more consistent and stronger next year."

WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL GOALS AS A YOUNG DRIVER? "First, I would really like to achieve this target of winning the championship with Newman/Haas Racing. After that there are number of opportunities and definitely Formula One is one that I want like every driver wants. Whatever I do, what I want is more than only participating, but winning. If I go there it is going to be for good, its going to be for podiums and wins and to achieve something good. I don't really see that opportunity at the moment but maybe after a title in CART we'll see."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mario Haberfeld , Darren Manning , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Mika Salo , Paul Tracy , Nigel Mansell , Scott Pruett , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , Michel Jourdain