Champ Car World Series: Champ Car Grand Prix de Montréal
Topics: Champ Car Grand Prix de Montréal
August 25, 2006
ERIC MAUK: All right, ladies and gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post qualifying press conference, first round of qualifying for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Montréal, round 11 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.
We're joined by our top three qualifiers on the day, starting with our third-place qualifier, driver of the #9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, Justin Wilson. His fast lap today 1:22.085 seconds, 118.809 miles per hour. Justin finished on the podium here a year ago. Tell us a little bit about your day.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it's been not too bad. We had a few problems this morning, so we didn't do many laps. The car seemed pretty quick. Same again in qualifying. We were pretty quick. So just need to find a bit more yet to get on that front row. Hopefully we can get there tomorrow.
ERIC MAUK: You strapped on a set of the alternate Bridgestone Potenzas for your last stint today. Tell us a little bit how those performed for you.
JUSTIN WILSON: We were interested to see what they did for us and see if we could understand what went on. We got a (sitter?) today, so we did exactly the same lap time. We'll go back and try to work it out, see if they have more potential, whether it's something that we just have to work with this weekend.
ERIC MAUK: All right. Good luck tomorrow.
JUSTIN WILSON: Thank you.
ERIC MAUK: Our second-place qualifier of the day, the defending race winner here in Montréal, driver of the #6 Gulfstream/Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for PKV Racing, Oriol Servia. His best lap, 1:21.523 seconds, 119.628 miles per hour.
Oriol, good strong lap there at the end. What do you think about how it went?
ORIOL SERVIA: It went pretty well. Obviously, not enough to get the pole, but pretty happy. It looks like definitely we're on the right path. The car felt good in the morning. The first set of tires, just on my fourth lap I got the red, then I went out again, wasn't the best for the tires. Then we put the reds. I went quite fast.
I honestly think I was going to do very similar on the blacks. As Justin says, I don't think there's a big lap time difference between the two compounds this weekend. But very happy to be at the front row right now. Hopefully we can do that a little better tomorrow. Just do the same as last year.
ERIC MAUK: What does it do to your confidence coming in here as race winner? How do you approach the weekend?
ORIOL SERVIA: Well, I think it's not just that I won the race last year here, but the fact that I think we've been working very hard and actually making a lot of progress in the team. We qualified top five in almost the last four, five races except Denver.
You know, just this race and the next few races are my favorite tracks, so everything comes at the right time, when, you know, me and the team are starting to gel and work together. This track's obviously good for me. I just hope we can show the full potential of the team.
ERIC MAUK: Oriol has started in the top five in four of the last five Champ Car races. He has started on the front row here twice: 2003 and again here last year.
The qualifying leader, first round of qualifying here, the driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Puts up a top lap of 1:21.193 seconds, 120.114 miles per hour. Earns himself a guaranteed front row starting spot for Sunday's event, his eighth front row starting spot of the year's 11 races. He also gets a championship point, boosting his total to 276 on the year, widening his lead over A.J. Allmendinger to 32 points.
Sebastien, tell us a little bit about your day and about the adventure you had, especially starting early on in your run.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, yeah, I guess the McDonald's car was really good right off. This morning we were very happy with the way things went, just pretty much started where we left it. You know, it wasn't perfect, but it was a very solid baseline, so we didn't really bother, we just let the track coming to us.
Then this afternoon, it really felt like we made some improvements and were running strong. You know, we did two laps on the first run; the red came out. We just saved the tires and said, Okay, will be a good set for the race. And then left the pits again for the second run on the standard Bridgestone tires.
I was in a good gap. I didn't have a big margin in front of Paul. I went pretty quick on the first couple of laps. Just made a big mistake and hit the wall really hard in turn four. From there on, I was pretty sure that it was going to be a very average qualifying.
When I came down a few times to turn one, you know, I locked wheels and got sideways, and probably the crossweight was all wrong. Still, the lap time came at the end, which I was very surprised to see the classification.
ORIOL SERVIA: Do it again tomorrow.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I guess we should have a look at what the setup is right now. Not that the car feels great, but it's surely fast. It's just one of these days where you don't really understand what's happening. Just very happy that the result is what it is right now.
ERIC MAUK: Tell us a little bit about the track surface today. How is the track holding up? Any tricky parts out there for you?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I didn't really have a look at the track itself, the way patches hold. But it looks likes they're peeling off a little bit. Every time you go offline, there seems to be a lot of debris on the outside. You start to slide really bad, which might be actually one of the reasons why I made a mistake in turn four. I just went slightly offline. It's probably going to be a zero acceptance for mistakes.
I hope that the patches are going to hold together and finally settle down. So the track is a lot of fun with high braking zones. I love coming here, but these patches definitely worry me.
ERIC MAUK: We'll take questions from the media from our top three qualifiers.
Q. (Question in French.)
ERIC MAUK: Could you give us a quick translation on that.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Sure. I just explained what happened when I spun between turn one and ended up in the end of two. After bending the car in turn four, I had probably a lot of crossweight the wrong way, so I locked the left front wheel. I didn't really want to damage the set of tires too bad. I just left off the brakes and then started to spin in the grass. When I kind of recovered, I was on the clutch to try not to kill the engine. I guess Paul was getting pretty close, but I guess anyways, it was yellow, and I was in the worst part ever. I just wanted to get out of there.
Q. For Sebastien and Justin, this race probably will be pretty key in the championship if you and A.J. are going to really get back into it. Can you comment how important this race is in the points and how much difference it could mean?
JUSTIN WILSON: Obviously, every race from now till the end of the season is going to be important. We're trying to close the gap back down to Sebastien and give ourselves a chance at the championship. The longer that goes on, the harder the job is going to be.
You know, we're going to attack all weekend and do the best we can. If we can win and finish ahead of Sebastien, we're going to take it. If we can't, we're going to finish as close as we can and move on to the next race and hopefully get some luck there.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I think, just like everybody knows from here on every race counts double. We'll just try to keep steady and stay out of mistakes, hopefully it can work out for us. For sure Denver was unfortunate, but now we've got to keep on finishing - not only keep on finishing, we need to finish at the front and be consistent.
Q. Sebastien, were you aware that it was Paul Tracy coming behind you?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I didn't. I was in the middle of the track, I think. It was better to just get out of there. There was a yellow due to me. The longer I was staying there, the more chances I was to have a wreck. I just tried to get out of there as quickly as I could.
Q. This wasn't Round 2?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No. Anyway, that would have been Round 20 (laughter). I was just in the middle of the track. I knew I was just not in the best place so I just wanted to get out. You know, that was that.
Q. Oriol, it was pointed out you won here last year, but with Newman/Haas. Could you tell us a little bit about being with a new team, getting with new engineers, getting up to speed.
ORIOL SERVIA: Well, I mean, to be honest, not only being a new team, but not being at Newman/Haas, I think that's the big thing. They've been so superior, not only here but everywhere. You know, it was going to be tough anywhere I was going to go. That's a pretty obvious thing.
I'm just extremely happy how things are going. I think we're getting closer. I don't think we are there at all yet. But, you know, when you see the progress and you see you're getting close to where you want to go, just motivating not only for me but for everybody. The engineers are working harder and longer hours and happier because we're getting closer.
It's really tough to qualify in the top five every race. The fact that we've kind of been able to achieve it lately, it's been very, very good and showing we're going the right way. Just need to keep pushing and hopefully we're going to be better than them at some point.
ERIC MAUK: Further illustrating that point, Newman/Haas has won the last two poles here with Sebastien. They have also won the last two races with Bruno Junqueira in '04 and Mr. Servia in '05.
Q. Justin, you mentioned gathering information on the tires. How much easier would it have been to have the other car of the team out on the track today and out on the track this weekend?
JUSTIN WILSON: It has its pros and its cons. Having a teammate obviously helps you gain information, but having somebody in there who has to learn the car without testing is also a possible distraction. The team is trying to find the right person to put in that car. I'm not the best person to answer who that will be. We just got to carry on working with what we have, going the direction we are, trying to do the best for my car under the circumstances.
We're just all really thinking about Cristiano, and hopefully he'll be back in the paddock soon.
Q. Would you have rather had someone in that car this weekend for the sake of your work load?
JUSTIN WILSON: Here it's not too difficult because we had a good car last year. We start from the same point. Has less of an effect at this track.
Q. I hear that Sebastien Bourdais doesn't wear a hat because he's afraid to ruin his hair.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't wear a hat? No, I guess nobody gave me one.
ORIOL SERVIA: He's the champion. To be on the head of the champion, you have to pay a lot of money (laughter). We're a little cheaper.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I guess he said it all.
Q. (Question in French.)
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I was saying the welcome Paul got in the grandstands was quite amusing. Like I said, more than anything, I feel very much like home here.
ERIC MAUK: That will wrap up our press conference. We set our final grid with second round of qualifying tomorrow which begins at 2 p.m. Thank you.
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