POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT FOR MOLSON INDY TORONTO WITH SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, JUSTIN WILSON AND PAUL TRACY ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post qualifying press...
POST-QUALIFYING PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT FOR MOLSON INDY TORONTO WITH SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS, JUSTIN WILSON AND PAUL TRACY
ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post qualifying press conference after final round qualifying for this year's Molson Indy Toronto, the 20th running of the Molson Indy Toronto, round six of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.
We will be joined by all of our top three qualifiers. So far, right now we are joined by the second and third place qualifiers. We'll start with our third place runner today, posting the second fastest time of the day, driver of the #9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, Justin Wilson. He puts up a top time of 58.554 seconds, 107.900 miles per hour. This is Justin's fourth time in the six races this year in which he has started in the top three. Justin, 2/1000ths of a second away from pole. You've got to be happy with the run.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it's very close, and it just shows how competitive the championship is these days. After yesterday's performance, we're very pleased to have made this jump to go from seventh up to third. It's quite an improvement. I'm just pleased with the whole team, the way they've kept working at it. Myself and my engineer have given the guys quite a bit of work today. But they've not complained and they've done it.
We've managed to get the result because of that. Just very grateful of that. We're able to keep pushing and working hard. Just trying to keep up with Paul and Sebastien. They're doing a good job at the minute. The closer we can keep to them, the better we're going to feel.
ERIC MAUK: Second season back here now in the streets of Toronto. Tell us a little bit about the Toronto course, your feelings on it.
JUSTIN WILSON: It's quite an interesting track. It's different to quite a few. But I really enjoy it. It's a good challenge. There's some quick corners and very slow corners. It offers a lot to the drivers to do, in particular the bumps that you have to work hard on your car setup to get over those bumps, the crowns in the road. It's something that I personally enjoy. I say that about most of the tracks we go to. I really find the variety a great challenge.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow. Starting on the outside of the front row, starting in the front row for the fourth consecutive season here in Toronto, that is an event record, driver of the #3 Mountain Grand Lodge/Avalanche Bay Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Paul Tracy. He puts up a quick lap of 58.594 seconds, 107.827 miles per hour. Paul, tell us about how it went.
PAUL TRACY: It went as well as it could go, I guess. I'm pretty disappointed with Cristiano (da Matta). I had a lap that was up until two corners from the end. We were 2/10ths quicker than my quick lap. He was starting another lap and didn't let me go. So it's pretty frustrating. Then I had to back up and start another lap. The red came out. A little bit disappointed that the time is there in the car and we just didn't get it on the racetrack. But the car's better than yesterday. We have to get through the first corner.
ERIC MAUK: Tell us a little bit about how you get through first corner. You've attacked it a number of different ways here in the past.
PAUL TRACY: Well, I mean, Sebastien's going to lead away from the start. It's his start to choose the way he wants to do it. We'll just try to hopefully get everybody through the first corner and go racing. Usually something is going to happen by the end of the straightaway.
ERIC MAUK: Best of luck tomorrow. The polesitter for the Molson Indy Toronto, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Sebastien wins the pole on the strength of a top lap of 58.552 seconds, 107.904 miles per hour. The second consecutive pole here for Sebastien, making him the second driver in event history to win consecutive poles here at the Molson Indy Toronto. Dario Franchitti the other driver to accomplish that. The 15th pole of Sebastien's career, putting him 14th on the all-time Champ Car list. Of course, his second pole of the season. Sebastien, tell us a little about your run.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it feels good to be back up front. We've had some ups and downs this year. Obviously, today everything went well. Just made a mistake personally in the 15-minute practice. The McDonald's crew did an awesome job to put the thing together, to bring it on time so I could have the chance to challenge for the pole position. We pulled it off.
The first stint was pretty short, but the third lap is usually not the fastest one. You know, I saw traffic in front of me. I said, you know what, it's going to be a good set to start the race on. I was expecting to improve on the second set. Really never happened. The guys were starting to pit in front of me. It was looking pretty good. Then the red came out. We never really got a chance to see what the car was able to do. I think we have a strong package. It's no real surprise. We had the strong package last year. As you can see, the position is getting really tough. Both PT and Justin could have probably ended up on pole also. It's just a matter of not real luck, but just a bit of success. I guess today was for us. We have to work hard tomorrow to keep it.
ERIC MAUK: Sebastien matches Paul Tracy with two poles this year, matching him with the year-long Bridgestone Pole Award this year. We'll award $30,000 to the driver who earns the post Bridgestone Pole Awards in this season. We'll bring up Joe Barbieri, manager of motorsports for Bridgestone. A special award goes to Sebastien for the Bridgestone Pole Award. (Award given.)
ERIC MAUK: Thank you, Joe. Sebastien, tell us a little bit about how the Potenzas held up today.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, first I think we have to be really thankful to a very loyal partner with Bridgestone. They've been really supportive of the series. They keep being. You know, today they tend to be really helpful with all the charity actions we're doing. Really appreciate that. It means a lot to Paul, so it means a lot to us.
Well, the tires were really good today. I think, you know, we really have a strong package. It tends to be always difficult here at the end of the stint. The stints are pretty long, first of all. Second, the surface is pretty rough on the tires, so it doesn't give them an easy time. You know, hopefully we're going to hit the setup right and we'll be able to be very consistent. When you succeed with the setup, the tires are not really an issue at all.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow. We'll take questions from the media now.
Q: Paul, did you have anything left when the red came out? Did you think maybe you could have gone out in the last three minutes and maybe topped Sebastien?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I mean, I had a lap that was better up until two corners from the end, so I know the capability is there in the car, but we were starting another lap and the red came out. There was two and a half minutes left in the session. A little bit frustrated by that. But I guess other people would probably say the same thing.
Q: Paul and Sebastien, Paul has shown a lot of maturity lately, consistency, is doing very well. So has Sebastien. But when Paul really wants to win, sometimes he makes mistakes and gets criticized for them a lot by the media. The question to both of you is how are you going to avoid taking each other out in the first corner?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Having said the number of times we've been fighting together, I think the times we've got together is actually pretty limited.
PAUL TRACY: Well, we've had a pretty good history of getting through the first corner. Both of us have started on the front row many times. You know, the accidents usually happen in the middle of the pack in the first corner. You know, I think we're both looking forward to a good race. It's a championship race from here till the end of the season. It's going to be fun.
Q: Sebastien, I guess the crew had to do a bit of a jerry-rig repair. How right or how wrong was the car? What was it like to deal with there, given the earlier damage?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's always tough to say. I'm pretty sure the cross weight wasn't right and the steering wheel wasn't straight. We had something else that was bent. It's never a good thing. Obviously, didn't seem to affect the handling of the car too much. Just knew from the mistake that I was going to have to deal with whatever I was going to have in my hands. It turned out to be good enough today.
For sure it's not something you'd want to repeat too many times because today we got away with it, but tomorrow you don't know. As PT said, every point from now on is pretty much comes double. It's going to be a long fight for the championship. You can't afford to make mistakes. I ran away with this one today. If we can keep on the same program for the rest of the year...
ERIC MAUK: The championship point that Sebastien earned today giving him 128 on the season, closing the difference between he and points leader Paul Tracy to just one point.
Q: Sebastien, could you take us through your shunting, the accident?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't really know. I think we bedded brakes, which I came into the pits, changed tires. We didn't really do anything on the setup. I wasn't expecting the car to push like that. I got out of the pits, did one lap, two laps. The second lap, turn six, the thing seemed to stick pretty well. Just the front washed out. I really got surprised. By the time you realize what is happening, you're already brushing the wall pretty heavily. Wasn't a big contact, but, you know, it was just kind of sticking out of the curb. It actually just clinched the rim, completely took it away.
Q: Justin, your team has made some visible progress the last couple of races. Any big changes or just more education?
JUSTIN WILSON: No, it's purely just more education, time together, just keep working on our setup and the understanding of myself, my engineer and the rest of the team. It's not been straightforward yet. Like yesterday, we came here, we didn't have a good balance to start off.
We've had to work hard to get the balance and make the car right for the circuit. Sometimes you hit the track and it's great. Portland was just a dream. Like Cleveland and here, it's been hard work. But I'm very pleased that we've managed to turn this one around and get the car to work.
Q: Paul, could you comment on how you go out tomorrow and balance your aggressiveness with also trying to stay on the track to make sure you gain as many points as you can?
PAUL TRACY: I mean, it's going to be a race. That's what we do. The guy who is going to win this race is going to be the one who is fast and doesn't make any mistakes. You know, last weekend at Cleveland, we probably weren't the fastest car on the track, but really didn't make any mistakes in the pit lane, no mistakes on the track. That's what paid off.
You know, this is a track where you make a small mistake, a very tiny mistake, and it can cost you, you know, a broken wheel or a flat tire, broken front wing, anything. You're going to have to go as fast as you can go but not make one single mistake. It goes with the crew, as well. You make one small mistake on the pit stop, it can cost you a lot of time.
Q: Sebastien, could you comment on how hard it is to try to hop back in the car after you had a small little knock-up and also how good is it to know you have a strong team behind you?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think it's a key. I knew they were going to bring it back. We obviously had a broken brake duct. The rest of the suspension, we saw we had a small damage, but we knew it was going to be all right. From that moment, I just tried to calm down and to regroup. After that, it was okay.
I've been in this position a few times already. It's just about trying to stay calm and make it happen. You still have the job to get done. It's not by getting upset or anything else that it's going to happen.
Q: When you had that contact and your car was -- you were heading back into the pits, did you think you had blown your chances of getting the pole?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, not really, because the contact was really, really small. I was actually very surprised to see the rim was, you know, apart and the tire was already gone. I was like, "That's pretty surprising." Just tried to coast it back to the pits really slowly, probably 30 miles an hour, get it back slowly to the pits so they could get it fixed.
Q: Is the pole worth more in terms of it being a difficult track to pass on, than say some other track? The last three years, the person with the pole won the race. Prior to that, I think there was only one polesitter that won for 16 years. Can you talk about the difference from track to track.
PAUL TRACY: I think, you know, it's always important. It's good for state of mind. You know, we're back to kind of similar pit window rules, kind of the pit strategy rules that you probably had previously from the last three years. That can produce surprise winners. It all depends really on how yellows fall, when yellows fall, how many people pit on the first yellow. From that standpoint, it's great to start from the pole and be able to be in the lead and in control of the race. If there's any yellows involved in the race, it can throw things into -- you know, when you put a group of guys that were running behind in front of you, that's when you can get mixed up in a race that you really weren't involved in. That's usually in the years past where things would go wrong for people.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I think Paul is completely right. It's not only true for the leader; it's true for the leaders in general, from P1 to P5, pretty much all the time you have people having to follow the strategy of the leader most of the time. What happens is some guys from P10 to P15, they tend to go out of sync. As soon as the fuel window opens, they dive in the pits. If there is any yellow from that moment on, the race is upside down and you lost it. It's a bit frustrating when you're leading the race and you're not feeling strong. That's the way it is now and it's true for any leader.
ERIC MAUK: A further thought on that point - I know you love it when I jinx you - not only have the last three drivers on pole gone on to win this race, the last four drivers to sit on the pole here in Toronto have gone on to win the season championship. That will wrap-up our press conference. We go racing tomorrow.