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Champ Car World Series: Grand Prix of Denver

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Grand Prix of Denver

Champ Car World Series: Grand Prix of Denver

Sebastien Bourdais
Bruno Junqueira
Oriol Servia
August 31, 2003


DENVER, COLORADO

THE MODERATOR: We'll go ahead and get started with our post-race press conference from the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver, round 15 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We're joined by our top-three finishers in today's event. We'll start with our third place driver, Oriol Servia, driver of the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone. Oriol earns his second consecutive finish, putting back-to-back podiums together for the first time in his Champ Car career, his third podium finish of the season. He led 31 laps on the day, setting a personal best for laps led in a single race. He also gives Patrick Racing its first back-to-back podium finish since Roberto Moreno finished in Detroit and Portland in 2001. Oriol, good, solid race today, ran out in front. What do you think about the way things went today?

ORIOL SERVIA: Yeah, hello. I'm actually happier than last weekend finishing second. Last weekend we were out on the track, we were dominating but we were really quick, not easy. But it looked like it was our race. That's why I was so disappointed when I didn't win. You know, I was trying to think, you know, what did go wrong here? But this weekend was kind of different. On Friday we really struggle. We were ninth. Then on Saturday, we did good changes in the car and we work hard, and it worked really good and we were really quick on Saturday. And today even if, you know, the guys did an awesome job in the first pit stop, I was close to Bruno, and they did an awesome job. I mean, you know, that's why we passed him obviously. We didn't short-fill or anything. They were just extremely quick. So was great. And then, you know, I think I had up to 1.8 lead on Bruno, so I was feeling good. I thought, you know, this could be our race. I knew it's really difficult to overtake here, so if I was not doing a mistake, the race was ours. Unfortunately, on the second stop, we had a problem on the wheel (inaudible). After that, there's just nothing we could do. The only thing is that these two guys were able to go as quick in the last two stints, or quicker. And for me, and I think the rest of the guys, because, you know, behind me they were not pushing me either, it was actually more slippery out there. So I don't really know what they did, but they were able to keep going faster and, you know, who knows what would have happen if I would have been leading. But I'm happy with the results. You know, second podium in a row, and looking forward for the next race that I think we're looking strong, and we're going to go for more podiums and wins.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. Nice run today.

ORIOL SERVIA: Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: Today's runner-up, Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #2 Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, who finished just .335 seconds behind the leader for his sixth podium finish of the season. Sebastien climbs back into fourth place in the championship standings after 15 races with 142 points. Sebastien, you gave it everything you had, came up just a little short. But pleased with the way things went today?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, very happy for the team. Obviously, was the 350th race for Newman/Haas Racing. I think I wanted to -- could have really been difficult to beat. Yeah, I tried as hard as I could. My Lilly McDonald's car was really good. Never got really a chance. Bruno is too difficult on that kind of street course. The only way to pass is on turn five. Obviously, there is a quick turn before you're on the throttle, you lose some downforce, so you slide, and it's very difficult to be close on the straight line. I for sure was not going to try anything silly on Bruno. I mean, he's my teammate and he's fighting for championship. So if I could have gone for the win, I would have done it. But obviously I never got a chance. So I'm very pleased for all the guys, and after all the problems we got in the last couple of race, I'm really happy for everybody.

THE MODERATOR: Your first race on the circuit. A couple days earlier in the week you got a lot of laps on the circuit. Your prerace strategy, did it pretty much pan out the way you thought it would, did the track give you what you thought it would give you today?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I didn't plan that Oriol was going to pass both of us on the first stop. I said, oh, this thing doesn't look very good anymore. It was a shame because actually I think we are -- no, but yeah, I thought we were looking in very good shape to pass Oriol at the first stop. Obviously, I didn't pass any. So, I don't even know what I was saying (laughter). I thought we are looking very good because I was right under in his gearbox. I thought we had the chance to pass him at the pit stop. But I don't know. I don't really have the reason why we've been a bit slow at the pit stop, but we really were recovered for the second one, and that was really an essential point. I mean, is no point of short-filling too early like maybe it happen in a few occasions. And I think the team did a really good job about managing the fuel, and obviously that work very well.

THE MODERATOR: Sebastien maintains his series rookie points lead after 15 races, leading Darren Manning by 61 points with four races to win. The winner of the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver, Bruno Junqueira, driver of the #1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, who successfully defended his 2002 Denver race win by leading 75 laps en route to his fifth career victory, second of the year. He closes to within 18 points on the series lead and heads up the third 1-2 finish of the year for Newman/Haas Racing. This is the 11th 1-2 finish in the history of the team, which, as Sebastien mentioned, celebrated its 350th Champ Car start today. Bruno, what is it about this place? You came out and put up 75 laps up front, took the win.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, was really good. I'm really happy with Denver. This is one of the most difficult racetracks of the year. We (inaudible) about the driver to be really patient because always work out for whatever, very good and perfect (inaudible) car. But this track is just impossible. Between turn one and four, turn five and nine, there are two completely different tarmacs. One is concrete, and the other is very new and slippery asphalt. You can never, ever have the perfect car here. I think I realize that last year. I try to make a car (inaudible) in both areas of the racetrack. The same I did this year. I'm very fortunate to got the poles on both (inaudible) and got the win. It's very good record on this track for me. I just like -- even more I like Denver. I think is a nice city and I wish I could have more time here, go out, Boulder, Colorado Springs. But now I just like here our luck. I hope we race like five times a year here and five times in Road America, and be perfect.

ORIOL SERVIA: One time in Australia.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Once in Australia, for sure, to make Oriol happy. To make me happy, as well.

THE MODERATOR: Talk about that second stint. Oriol came out, beat you out of the pits for the first time, you had to run some laps around for a while. You guys were nose-to-tail for a while there.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, was very difficult. I have to pace myself and be very patient. I know has been very close between me, Oriol and Sebastien. Oriol pass me in pit stop, I said, "Oh, now is going to be tough." But I know that to have a good strategy for the race, I would maybe have an opportunity to pass him. But as Oriol said, have a problem in the second pit stop and give Oriol an opportunity to pass on the second pit stop. But even this track is so difficult. Is the most difficult racetrack for me to race because when I was leading the race on Saturday, the first three laps I try to push hard. And as Oriol said, "Bruno, look like they are going to crash every time going out of turn one." Because I was pushing, trying to pull away. But maybe because I push too hard in the end of the run, my car got really loose and I have to be patient. I knew that Oriol was coming close to me. You cannot overdrive the car because if you overdrive the car here, you're going to be in the wall. I mean, this is a track that a big compromise about pushing hard and be patient and pace yourself. Especially happens when I was behind Oriol because maybe I could go a little bit faster. But then is very easy to make a mistake.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations. Bruno, as we said before, his fifth career Champ Car victory. Real quick, the top five in points, Paul Tracy is the leader with 204, Bruno has 186, Michel Jourdain, Jr. is third with 165, Sebastien is fourth with 142, Patrick Carpentier is fifth with 128, and Oriol Servia is sixth with 108. As a note, Darren Manning today set a Champ Car series record, becoming the first rookie in CART Champ Car history to score top 10 finishes in eight consecutive races. We'll open it up to questions from the media.

Q. Bruno, could you talk about when you brushed the wall? Was there any damage to your car in the closing laps?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: That was one of the situations because the end of the race, I was pulling away from Sebastien, then could get the yellow lap, the yellow flag. Was like something like 17 laps to go, whatever. Then I really try to push hard and to pull away from Sebastien. And I was doing some very fast laps, and I was pull away. But for sure the end of the race, as Oriol said, the track was (inaudible) slippery, but still pulling away. I didn't want to give any chance of Sebastien to be close of me. But when I came on turn one, and just went a little bit too early on the power, here I was already sliding, and just brush the wall. I thought that was not nice, you know. Then I decide to slow down, pacing myself. And even then Sebastien get close of me, but I knew that if I do like turn three and four very well, he'll never pass me. And I just control him without pushing that hard and make no mistakes to go till the end of the race because this track is strange. You get worse during the race, and then is very easy to make a mistake. And I didn't want to push that hard and just control the race to the end.

Q. Oriol and Bruno, what happened on the start there with those two wave-offs?

ORIOL SERVIA: I think it's to me to answer. In the first, we were quite side by side, and, you know, he was in the dirt, and maybe I was a little sooner. But it was quite close. And honestly, I thought I saw the green flag.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah.

ORIOL SERVIA: They throw the green.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: They throw the green.

ORIOL SERVIA: They throw the green and I'm going. Then when we are after turn one, I see a yellow.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: No, no, no.

ORIOL SERVIA: This is what I saw. After turn one, I see the yellow. I'm like maybe somebody crash and I'm asking, what is going on? What is going on? And Jim told me, it's going to be a restart. So I'm thinking, okay, we did the start, you know, I'm leading the restart. That's why I not even waiting. We going there, I'm doing like a normal restart. I see there's big confusion. I ask, what the hell is going on? They're like, no, no. And I feel, no, no, this time, you know, just stay behind him. And so, didn't start again. Okay, didn't tell me. Was a confusion. Fortunately, nothing happened.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think what's happen is, first of all, is really difficult to start because both sides are a little bit wet, even throughout the race was wet, just came out turn nine. And I try to make a good side by side. But because Oriol gets on the last corner around me, off-side, he was a little bit in front of me. Then the guy just think -- he just didn't throw the green. He just came with the green and realize that Oriol is already full throttle before I was full throttle and throw the yellow. He didn't throw the green.

ORIOL SERVIA: I saw both of the flags. When I pass, I saw the green like that and the yellow like that. I don't know, then I saw that he didn't start.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think the end of the day, really when they did a start, was a good start, was a clean start, no crash, that's the most important thing, and they were able to have like three or four rows, not single-file start. Was a good start. That was one of the thing I really want to take care about, not just go too fast or not go too slow. Go too slow, you have a crash. If you go too fast, is not fun for the fans.

Q. Bruno and Sebastien, again, you were pretty good later on in the race, as Oriol said, the track got very slick. You were able to get away in those conditions. Did you do anything in terms of setup and tires to be good later on in the race when you knew it was going to get slick?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: To be true, I think the biggest problem that I had was on the first stint. Maybe I push too hard on the first three laps, and on the last five or six laps of the first stint, I really got loose. Then Sebastien and Oriol got close of me because before that, I was pulling away from them. And the second stint, I was behind Oriol, and the third and fourth, I was by myself. Then I could go back on the pace. I think the PacifiCare car this weekend was really good, but especially on cold tires. And I think that was the biggest difference that I made against the other people.

Q. Bruno, is the problem of the track the track itself or actually the air and the altitude?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Problem of what? Being slippery?

Q. Slippery.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Here you have two completely different racetracks. Between turn one and turn four, last year was really bumpy, was kind of concrete. They improve a lot this year. To be true, is a little bit between two and three is a little bit bumpy, but three and four is very good. And that part of the track is very quick, is like the other racetracks. But is less because we have less downforce.

Q. A combination?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: There. But when you go to turn five to turn nine, where there is that new asphalt, the track is very smooth. But because -- I don't know what they did on the asphalt. The asphalt is really dark and is really, really slippery.

ORIOL SERVIA: That's the part that gets worse.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: That's the part that gets worse.

ORIOL SERVIA: More (inaudible) and more slick.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: We have two different tracks. I think the first part of the track, the grip is slower because of the air. The second part is the combination of asphalt and the air, as well.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: We have a comparison about that. Monterrey is bloody, bloody slippery, and there is nothing we can do about it. It keeps going quicker and quicker, but it's still very slippery, even at the end of the race. I think if you put 30% more downforce on the car, which is basically what we're losing there, for sure the car is going to be a lot better. That's it.

Q. Bruno, the track has improved overall from last year?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yes. I think one of the thing I have to say is the Denver Grand Prix organization, they did a very good job, because they were one of the only -- not the only, but a few tracks that when you ask for improvements, they really made the improvement. I think, like I said, on our data, said that the track is 29% smoother this year than it was last year. I mean, they really try hard to make the track better. And, I mean, it's already much better to race. Maybe if they improve a little bit between turn two and three, it will be not bumpy anymore. If there is no grip, is because you are high, then that is the challenge to race here. I think that one of the things that makes this race very difficult for the drivers. I would say that's not the most technical racetrack of the year, like Road America, that we have to be really technical on the high-speed corners, everything. But this is one of the most difficult racetracks because you have to be really close to the wall, is very tight. The tire is very slippery. Especially in the race, very easy to make mistakes.

Q. Bruno, you've now won Road America and Denver, repeated your two wins from last year. You've run out of races to repeat again. Seriously, how do you look at the last few races in the season and your chances of catching Paul?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think Miami is going to be a very difficult racetrack. Last year was difficult because especially rain a lot Saturday, and I had a problem probably qualify for the red flags. I qualify 10th. But I was really fast in the race. I lead the race. The team made a strange strategy. I pit one lap early and I have to pit extra lap again, and I still finish fifth. Other hand, Newman/Haas won the race there last year. That's a very good thing. But the track is different, completely different layout. I think is going to be another story. Then Mexico City is the track that I think I have the biggest chance. My second favorite track of the year after Road America. I think I drive really well there. Last year I dominate all the qualifies and the practice. On the race, unfortunately brake too late in turn one, started 20, come down to 9, finish third. I think the racetrack I have a big chance to do well. Then after go to Australia, last year I lost the pole for one-thousandth of a second from Cristiano. I was on pole Friday and lost the pole Saturday. I mean, that means that me and Newman/Haas, we have a good setup and knowledge about the track. And then the end of the season is Fontana. That's very unpredictable racetrack because a 500-mile race, anything can happen. But last year I qualify second. Cristiano qualified third. Then, I mean, I think look strong for the last four race of the year. But Paul Tracy looks strong, as well. I think he already won Australia couple of times. For sure he has good setups, like three different options, you know. He going to be strong. And not taking -- I think -- I still think that Michel Jourdain is a very good driver and he's in a very good team, and he still have a chance on the championship. Sebastien, don't know how many Sebastien is behind Tracy, but for sure Sebastien and Oriol, they going to play a big thing, because Oriol is on a roll, I think he's more confident than ever. And Sebastien is a driver that can do well in every single racetrack. Then is not going to be just between me and Paul. Is going to be between me, Paul, Sebastien, Jourdain, Oriol, Patrick, a lot of drivers fighting for the race win. Is going to be quite exciting.

Q. There was a fire in the pit stops today. I don't know, is that information relayed to you guys? If it is, what goes through your mind when that happens?

ORIOL SERVIA: First notice for me.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I didn't know. I knew there was a problem on the pits. They said there was an incident in the pits. But I didn't really know that it was a fire. I just know it's fire (inaudible) Ryan. I hope everybody's okay.

ERIC MAUK: Just to clarify, there was the fire in Ryan Hunter-Reay's pits. No one was taken to the medical center and there are no injuries reported at this time.

Q. Bruno, you said the track needs improvements between turns two and three. This is for anybody. What type of improvements would make it better between two and three?

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: No, I think between two and three still some bumps. But is much better than last year. I'm saying just to be perfect. The track is good. I'm not saying anything. The track is -- they did a very good job. If they can smooth a little bit more just between two and three. I don't know if Oriol and Sebastien feels the same. There's still a little bit of bump there.

ORIOL SERVIA: Yeah. The job they did from last year to this year was amazing. Maybe just you know 10% more would help between two and three.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: But turn three is very good, and turn four. Some straight between turn two and three. The turn on the corner is very good. It's more straight because you come out of right-hand and left-hander to go through turn three. For us is not really straight. You just keep steering, trying to put the power down. But, I mean, they did a great job.

Q. I don't know if your engineers have discussed being at a higher altitude, but do any of you have a concept of how much less downforce you have, comparing it to Long Beach?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You lose over a little bit over a thousand pounds of downforce. The cars have average like five thousand pounds of downforce. Here you going to have 3800.

ORIOL SERVIA: Yeah, you feel a big difference in grip.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: And the braking especially. Usually on the braking you speed when you hit the pedal, you never lock the wheels. Here it's possible to lock the wheels at full speed. You hit the pedal and you lock the whole four wheels. 30% is not like it's more. It's quite big.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I was (inaudible) walking with Sebastien Thursday, I don't know if he remember that. The point that you make between turn five is between the concrete and the asphalt. I just came to Sebastien, said, "Where do you think you going to brake on this corner?" And he went much further, said, "Oh, it's going to be about here." Come down on this point, he is (inaudible) brake there. Then start to brake a little earlier, otherwise going to go straight on your first lap. It's kind of different, but is challenging for everybody. Mexico City is kind of the same, as well.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think next year it's going to be better because Bridgestone has been a bit conservative because they didn't know what was going to be the result about the grounding and things like that. So next year we'll come back with softer compound and I think the grip will be even better. I think this year was already a good improvement. Like when I arrive there, everybody told me it's the worst racetrack you ever seen. I said, "Oh, okay." And I think this year, it was really fine. I'm really happy with what I've seen and I hope that the crowd saw a good show, because I think it was pretty good from the inside at least.

Q. (Inaudible)?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, yeah, because it's so easy to do a mistake. Less grip, you know, means it's very, very easy to finish in the wall. And then when you have 106 laps, I think it's a lot of opportunities to start the race early.

BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: And what I think this track asks of the drivers more than anything, sometimes okay driver can have very good car in one racetrack and do very well. Here nobody have good car, everybody have a medium race car with lots of problems. Then is up to the driver to manage -- the good driver to manage everything and still be able to go fast. And I think that's the nice thing about this racetrack.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think you can make the illusion on a couple of laps. But over a hundred laps, there's no way you can, you know, do something everything. It's just you need to be consistent the whole times.

ERIC MAUK: Thank you. Three weeks off till we hit the Grand Prix of the Americas in Miami on the 28th.

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