CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Top three qualifiers press conference

Post qualifying press conference transcript with Oriol Servia, Sebastien Bourdais and Mario Dominguez ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post qualifying press conference for the Lexmark...

Post qualifying press conference transcript with Oriol Servia, Sebastien Bourdais and Mario Dominguez

ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post qualifying press conference for the Lexmark Indy 300, round 12 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford we are joined by our top three qualifiers for tomorrow's event. Before we get started, I'd like to invite Al Speyer, executive director of Bridgestone motorsports to the podium. He will award the Bridgestone Pole Award to Oriol Servia.

ERIC MAUK: The Bridgestone Pole Award is a $10,000 award given at every Champ Car race. $5,000 of that goes to the driver. $2,500 of that goes to the Hole in the Wall Camp, and other $2,500 goes to a local charity. This weekend, that goes to the Surf Life Saving Foundation of Queensland.

Al Speyer, come up here and tell us a little about the Bridgestones. Very hot day, very slick day, very tricky day. Tell us how they held up for you.

AL SPEYER: We're very pleased, Eric. I guess yesterday we got a really good test of the rain tires. Today we got a really good test of the dry tires. This is a new tire we brought down here this year, modified the compound. Part of what we're trying to do at Champ Car is always makes improvements to our tires. We're pretty pleased because I believe the top seven drivers in today's qualifying session ran faster than last year's pole time. That gives us great confidence for tomorrow, but I'm sure you can hear from these guys what they really think.

ERIC MAUK: Thank you very much, Mr. Speyer.

Our top three qualifiers, we'll start with our third place qualifier on the day, driver of the #7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Mario Dominguez. A former race winner here at Surfers Paradise. He puts up a top time of 1:32.667 seconds, 108.582 miles per hour, matching his best starting spot of the season.

Mario, you've always qualified well here. Tell us about your day.

MARIO DOMINGUEZ: Good afternoon, everybody. Good day. We did a lot of changes on the car, improved it every time. At the end, I thought we had the pole, then Oriol got it from us. With one corner to go, I guess you always say that, people always say that, but I was a 10th and a half up on my time, then I ran into Rodolfo at the very last corner and I lost it.

Still good effort, but happy with the way the car is handling. It's a good starting position. Tomorrow we should be good for the race. Hopefully we can be quick.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow.

Our second place starter, our championship points leader, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. He starts second by virtue of leading yesterday's qualifying. His best lap today 1:33.211 seconds, 107.949 miles per hour.

Sebastien starts on the front row here in Australia for the third consecutive year. He also will start on the front row for the fifth consecutive race here in 2005.

Sebastien, you gave it a shot. Starting second. Tell us a little bit about today.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it was about as chaotic as it could have been really for me and my McDonald's team. We had a lot of incidents during the session, one with Mario that was a little surprising to me because then we got penalized for shortcutting the chicane when trying to avoid a contact on the pit-out. I was a little upset. But, you know, in the first run, was it.

The second run was going pretty well, then I caught Justin.  I had to
back off.  I had a pretty good lap going on.  I thought I had a last
lap.  Apparently, I crossed the start/finish line as the checkered flag
came out.  I didn't know it.  When I came into the pits, I was like, got
to be pole.  32.5, got to be called.  It wasn't.
I was very happy for Oriol.  That's a very good result for the team.  He
starts pole.  Well done, my friend.

ERIC MAUK: Sebastien needs to take the green flag tomorrow in order to clinch the 2005 championship. Final place in the race tomorrow will be 19th place. That would award him two points and that would be good enough to clinch the championship for him.

For today, our leader, a guy everybody is chasing, driver of the #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Oriol Servia. Oriol wins the first pole of his Champ Car career. Sixth different pole winner of the Champ Car World Series this year. He puts up a fast lap of 1:32.616 seconds, 108.442 miles per hour. Earns a championship point, closes to within 67 of his teammate.

Oriol, good, strong run. First Champ Car pole. How does it feel?

ORIOL SERVIA: Great. I had some provisionals before, but it feels much better to have this one, I can tell you that. I was very happy in the morning. I was P1. Car felt great. I love this place, so everything was looking good. But in qualifying, we were like seven minutes remaining, I was P8 or P9. One of those sessions, either you do a mistake, you find traffic. I just couldn't put a lap together. I shortcut the chicane once, drive through, one of those things that you see the session going on and you fall back in the middle of the field.

I think was three laps to go that I did that lap. I was happy. I still thought -- you know, there was still two laps. I thought I was going to be able to improve. One I didn't and the last one I ran out of fuel. So one of those pit strategies like Elkhart Lake, a lot of corners, hard to put it all together in one lap. Mistakes, traffic, there's something always going on out there. I'm just happy was good enough to be P1. Definitely starting in a better place tomorrow.

I'm just very pleased for PacifiCare, to give them the my first pole. Very pleased. You know, I had to be on pole to delay Sebastien's championship. It's much better to celebrate on a Sunday than a Saturday. Plus David has a great idea. Sebastien, next year you're going to start with some other team the first two races, then you're going to join Newman/Haas (laughter).

So, I'm very happy.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: How about you stay with us and we'll try to make this straight?

ERIC MAUK: Tell us a little bit about that last lap. You talk about running out of fuel. What goes through your mind there? Obviously, if you cause a red flag, you lose your pole lap.

ORIOL SERVIA: The good thing is as soon as I felt it, sometimes you feel it and you kind of pray, are you going to be able to finish the lap. Then you end up with the engine with no fuel in the middle of a corner that you can do nothing.

As soon as I felt I was not going to finish the lap, I just tried to find a place, safe place, hoping it was safe enough they were not going to call the red. Especially, there were three seconds on my clock. I was hoping. Plus I had two laps I think in the same lap time, so I was hoping I was going to keep it anyway.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow.

Will Power, the Australian rookie, driver of the #25 Team Australia entry, qualified 11th. That is the best qualifying performance ever here at Surfers Paradise for an Australian-born driver.

Questions.

Q: I couldn't help but notice how hot and sweaty you guys were after qualifying. Tomorrow, a much longer race. Is the heat going to be an issue for you tomorrow?

ORIOL SERVIA: Not as much. It's a physical racetrack. I think we'll be okay. It's always hard here. That's no surprise. You see me a little more wet than usual because they throw a cold basket of water. That's maybe why you see me that wet. I never sweat much (laughter).

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's more the adrenaline really because you're pushing so hard. You know, it's like you always braking facing a wall pretty much for this chicane. Your level of concentration is really high. You've got so much energy, that it just perspires a lot.

Q: Sebastien, there was a lap towards the end where it looked like you came up on Justin Wilson with two or three corners to go. Did that cost you a possible pole or a better lap?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: A better lap, for sure. I was clear in three corners, and was trying to make a gap, between me and Justin. I think I was something like 4/10ths. Probably would have not been good enough for pole anyway. But the last one was good enough. And, as I said, just wasn't our qualifying session. One of these days.

Q: Oriol, you talk about your mindset for today and this pole. Obviously, barring an earthquake or something like that, Sebastien is going to win the championship tomorrow. It had to be particularly pleasing to deliver today and delay that one more day.

ORIOL SERVIA: Very much. Not much for the championship because honestly, I mean, already coming into this race, championship is not even a thing I'm thinking of. I don't see it possible.

No, you know, one more enjoyable day being part of Newman/Haas.  All year
I just had great times since day one that I joined them.  It's true, you
know, every day I am with them, I feel better.  You know, it's just a
great experience.  Really enjoying it.  That's the attitude I have.  I
came to Surfers thinking that I love this place in general.  I love the
racetrack.  I was trying to do my best.

Yesterday I was extremely pissed off with myself because I did one of my worst qualifying laps ever. I think in 15 laps in qualifying, I was only able to do two, because all the others I was just making mistakes and going through the chicane straight, then driving through. I wasn't happy with myself yesterday. I'm pleased that today I was able to be here.

Q: All three drivers, given that you had a fairly greasy qualifying session, and today was the first dry, are you all satisfied that the cars are at optimum performance for tomorrow's race? Can you go faster tomorrow?

MARIO DOMINGUEZ: It's going to be hard to be faster in qualifying just because of the fuel tanks. But I think the track is just going to get better and better, that's for sure. Wouldn't be surprised if lap times are faster than last year.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I think it's typically a racetrack where the lap times are quick to start the race. I wouldn't be surprised actually if we end up matching these qualifying laps. As Al Speyer said from Bridgestone, we are significantly faster than last year. In 2003, I think the pole position lap without the tire matts on the chicanes was like 107, something like that. Getting really close. It was pretty fast today.

ORIOL SERVIA: Well, I think the race pace is definitely different than qualifying. But my car is good. The track is getting grippier all the time. Tomorrow, with all the cars running, it's going to be very, very grippy. So I'm very happy the sun came out. It seems like it's great also for all the race fans. Happy about that.

ERIC MAUK: Last year's pole winning time, 1:33.559, almost a full second faster this time around.

ERIC MAUK: We go racing tomorrow. 57 laps. Thank you all very much.

-ccws-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Justin Wilson , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , Will Power