An interview with: ROBERT DOORNBOS WILL POWER SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS JAN HEYLEN THE MODERATOR: We'll start with our third place qualifier Robert Doornbos. After not being able to turn a lap yesterday due to an engine failure, it must feel good to...
An interview with:
THE MODERATOR: We'll start with our third place qualifier Robert Doornbos. After not being able to turn a lap yesterday due to an engine failure, it must feel good to go out there and qualify third.
ROBERT DOORNBOS: Yeah, thank you all for coming. I think Sebastien will start from back in the grid now because I'm here alone (laughter). Yeah, it's great obviously to be here.
Yesterday I was confident that we had a good car. In both practice sessions we were third and last practice we were fastest, so just waiting for qualifying, and then we had an unfortunate engine blowup. So then you just have to stay professional and focus on the next day.
And that went really well. We worked this morning, changed some bits. It's an amazing circuit to drive actually with these Champ Cars. Turn 1 and 2, they just get faster and faster and jumping the curbs a bit. Feeling comfortable around the circuit, and then the afternoon qualifying we ran red tires for the first time, felt that the car was quick, and yeah, I produced good lap time, good enough for second today, and unfortunately because yesterday - Yeah, we have to start third now, but still, yeah, I'm very happy that the fans all came out here, the promoter, it's always good to have a Dutch guy up front for the races. Maybe it's because of my special boots.
I hope I have a better start or better finish to the race than last week when I also started third; it was basically the same grid. So yeah, I want to thank the team and the fans for coming out. I'm looking forward to a good race.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Robert. Starting second based on his qualifying time from yesterday is Will Power. Will, to start up front here has got to mean a lot to you?
WILL POWER: Yeah, that's exactly how we thought it would play out. We used reds yesterday so it could guarantee us a front row, and then we decided we're not using reds today, we're going to save a new set for the race, and I think the time we did on blacks was pretty good, running three tenths off, so I'm sure we wouldn't have had a problem on reds.
But we're thinking of tomorrow. We need to win a race. Yeah, played out just the way we wanted, no problem.
THE MODERATOR: And now we'll open it up to questions from the media.
Q: When you're going over the crest at over 150, can you actually feel the car lift in the air?
WILL POWER: Yeah, it gets a little light. It definitely gets a little light. But it's only in the corner so it's not an issue - if you had to avoid someone at the right moment, yeah, it could be pretty bad. You just don't even want to stop - just as they go over the hill because in the Renault World Series someone did that and someone's leg was broken.
ROBERT DOORNBOS: I wasn't sure if you were talking about the chicane or - because in the chicane taking the curve, you also get air - the crest is fine.
Q: What speed are you hitting at the end of the straights in miles per hour?
WILL POWER: 170,
ROBERT DOORNBOS: 171
WILL POWER: 180 (laughter).
Q: After the problems yesterday, are you quite confident that you can go back with the Cup or does that dampen your expectations?
ROBERT DOORNBOS: The thing is in the past I would have been really upset and the weekend would have been a disaster already. You're more professional, have more experience, and have the confidence that you're good enough and the team is good enough. Yeah, if it would have been last year qualifying, I would think, okay, this is a disaster. But I knew the car was reasonably good. It can always get better, but yeah, we proved it today, so I feel quite comfortable.
Q: Can both of you talk about how the track is today versus yesterday because it seems like everyone picked up a lot more speed.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I think it's a lot quicker because there's so much more rubber down, plus you get yourself a little bit better, and everyone used reds, as well, except us. So we're obviously a lot better than everyone else, right (laughter)?
ROBERT DOORNBOS: The asphalt is actually really good. They did a good job with that because the rubber gets in really quick and the grip just gets better and better.
THE MODERATOR: Now we have Sebastien Bourdais, who earned his 30th career pole position and also has now started on the front row for every Champ Car race he has started here in Europe. Sebastien, you had to go out and set quick times today. How was it?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it was a little harder than I thought. The 15 minutes ran really well with the extended tires, and then when we were going to put the red tires on, it was going to be easier and the lap time was going to come really fast, but we got a little bit of traffic and I made a couple of mistakes and didn't hit the tires when they were at their best, then it got a little harder to get the lap time. I'm just glad that it was sufficient today. But it was a little stressful until the very end there.
Q: Your last lap times were .826, .821. Was that the absolute limit?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I mean, it wasn't the limit, but that's what I was saying, the sweet spot on the red tires was like lap 2, lap 3, and I was locked up in traffic at that point. Then when I started to push, it was just past the window. But I was probably a small couple of tenths I would say. The car is consistent, so that's the good thing. It doesn't wear out the tires.
THE MODERATOR: Now we're joined by Jan Heylen, the Belgian driver here, who will start 11th tomorrow. Jan, after not turning a lap at all yesterday it's got to feel good to get some laps under your belt and know the car is ready for tomorrow.
JAN HEYLEN: Yeah, well, I don't think we got enough laps in, but you know, it is what it is. I think with the team and the car that we have, I think we could have done better if we had had an extra day.
I think all in all with the day we had yesterday, I think we have to be happy with that 11th place. We're not too far off the pace, so we're a little disappointed. I was hoping to do a little better here in Belgium coming back from Road America, but again, I think we couldn't expect a lot more than this after yesterday.
Q: Just looking at the car, did it feel any different to you?
JAN HEYLEN: No, it's just the guys, they do this every day and they have been for the last, I don't know, 20 years. They know what they're doing, and this morning when I got in the car it was exactly how it was - how it should be. So that's all. The car was ready to go. The guys did a really good job of getting it back together for this morning's session.
Also, the first session this morning I thought went pretty well. We just didn't improve enough to make the difference here in qualifying.
THE MODERATOR: Can you just talk about what it means tomorrow morning to wake up in your own bed knowing you have a big race?
JAN HEYLEN: Well, we've been waiting for this for a long time. Yeah, I'm really looking forward to it, even though today wasn't the best qualifying session ever. I think the race is wide open, and I'm really looking forward to the race, and we'll put on a great show. I'm going to try as hard as I can to get up in front.
Q: Do you feel after just one day of practice and qualifying, again, do you feel like you have a correction that you want to go apart from the race? Do you feel confident about maybe getting up to another level tomorrow?
JAN HEYLEN: Well, that's the problem that we're facing right now. We're not quite sure if we're on the right platform with the car, but it's a risk now to go all the way back and try something different. We're going to think about it tonight and the guys are going to look at it, and I'm sure they'll come up with something good for tomorrow.
But it's exactly that, what you're saying. I think right now we're just a couple of tenths away from being really in there, and with the small changes that we made since this morning or after practice, it wasn't enough to keep up with the others. So now we really have to think about whether we're going to stay with what we have or try something different tomorrow.