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Champ Car World Series: Grand Prix of Road America

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Grand Prix of Road America

Champ Car World Series: Grand Prix of Road America

Sebastien Bourdais
Rodolfo Lavin
Alex Tagliani
August 8, 2004


ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN

ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post race press conference for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America, presented by the Chicago Tribune, round eight of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We are currently joined by two of our top-three finishers. We will start with our third place finisher of the day, driver of the #2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Sebastien finishes third today, earns the 13th podium finish of his young career. He has led in each of the last five races and he widens his series points lead to unofficially 47 points over Bruno Junqueira. Sebastien, big day for you in the long run. In the championship hunt, you come out of here with a pretty big lead. How do you feel about the way it went?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I don't really know what to think about this race really because there have been so many things that I don't know what happened myself. All I know is we were leading the race. We had a good car. We were probably one of the fastest cars on the racetrack, when I see on the sheet result, it's like 46.2 on the 10th lap. Then this yellow came out at the wrong moment. When I restarted the thing, the pace car was in the middle of the racetrack on 14, and I've never seen that. So I have no idea what happened. There's been a miscommunication probably between Race Control and the pace car. So Tracy passed Bruno straight away when the green flag was thrown. Tracy was right in my gearbox, and he pass me. As a matter of fact, trying to pass me, he touched me. He bent my front suspension, my left front suspension, and my car was very difficult after that to drive. Then I just had a pretty difficult day from now on. I tried to hang down there. But Bruno was next on the list. He tried to go by. Absolutely tried not to oppose any resistance. I just kept my line. Said he was going to try 'push to pass' to (inaudible), and he did not. He had kind of like one wheel snuck between the curb and my car, and we've had contact again. So now I had both the left front and the right rear bent, so the thing was not looking very good at all. From then I just didn't know what to think anymore. I had a terrible time to drive the car. I just tried as hard as I could. I had a terrible time in the braking, especially inside. I got passed by a couple of people; I passed a bunch of people. And here I am on the podium, and I have no idea what happened in between. All I know is the team has been very intelligent and very smart, and they learned our lesson from Cleveland, Tagliani from dead last has been able to come back, taking the stop at the yellow and then taking the race in two equal stints. That worked out for us today. But really I think I have to watch this race again, because I cannot put everything in order really.

ERIC MAUK: 47-point lead for you now after eight races, making the turn to the second half. Widest lead anybody's had all year. You have a full race cushion as far as the points go. What kind of comfort level does that give you?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, when you see things are changing very fast, I don't think it can give me any confidence, if you can lose everything in one event. So I don't know. I just -- I know we have a very good car, that's something for sure. And once we're up front, if the strategy doesn't come into factor, then we can win this thing. For sure with the new design of the rules, it's very difficult to anticipate anything, and you can be a victim very fast. You know, that's what everybody is saying. I'm just glad today the McDonald's car is in the lead in the championship and we'll try again to do that in Denver and finish every single race and take care of everything, for sure.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Nice run. Our second race finisher, driver of the #3 Corona Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Rodolfo Lavin, making his first ever visit to the Champ Car podium, highest finish ever in his Champ Car career. He led the first laps he ever led in his Champ Car career during this event. Rodolfo, something you've been working very hard to get. How does it feel?

RODOLFO LAVIN: Yeah, definitely it feels great. As you said, I've been working for this many, many years, you know, since I was in the series level, in the Atlantics, all that. We just been working very, very hard. Thanks to my sponsor Corona, they've been sponsoring me for many years; pretty close to 11 years they've been supporting me. Very thankful to them. Obviously very thankful to the team to the Forsythe Racing Team. They given me a great car, great tools to fight out there. I think we've been performing pretty good. Last race in Vancouver, we qualified on the front row, we qualified second. We knew, you know, it was coming. It was just case of keeping, you know, ourselves out of trouble all day and making consistent lap times. And we got second place today. I'm very pleased with the team. Mr. Gerry Forsythe been great to me, giving me the great opportunity to win in his team. Everybody in the team is great. I'm very, very happy to be here and to be in second place.

ERIC MAUK: Sebastien said this thing is a rollercoaster ride all day. At what point did you realize and what did you think when you did realize that you had a shot to be on the podium today, you had a chance to win this thing?

RODOLFO LAVIN: Yeah, I think in the first pit stop, we got some luck, then there was yellow flag. You know, many cars in front of me were in pit at that time, so I knew they had to come in pit at the green flag. We picked up a lot of positions right there. After that, I just kept driving as hard as I could. The car was just oversteering, the car was (inaudible) along the high-speed turns. I was just holding in there, you know, making consistent laps, very consistent. You know, thanks God we got there.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Nice run.

RODOLFO LAVIN: Thank you.

ERIC MAUK: Today's winner of the Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America, presented by the Chicago Tribune, driver of the #8 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Rocketsports Racing, Alex Tagliani, earning his first ever Champ Car victory, his 10th podium of his career, first win in his 85th Champ Car start. Alex, long time coming, man. You've been so close so many times. How does it feel?

ALEX TAGLIANI: I feel good. I mean, this is a race that I really led in 2000. Six laps to go we had a failure in the (inaudible) shaft. So it was not easy. The last six laps after the restart, I was kind of worried a little bit. And I was not going to just think that it was going to be easy until I saw the white flag. Maybe, you know, today honestly we got a little bit lucky with the way the yellow turned out in the race. But many races this year we were unlucky. In Monterrey, we passed basically every car on the racetrack in the first stint, and we end up losing position at the pit exchange. You know, I think it takes a really fast car, good strategy, little bit of luck to be able to win a race in this series. And I think today all the ingredients were there. So, you know, we're really proud at Rocketsports and really happy for Johnson Controls that has been a supporter of this team for many years, and two years in Champ Car. And for our young team that we started last year, it's just unbelievable because Paul didn't expect us to be really quick last year, and we shined at a couple of places. And this year we were unfortunate at a couple of places, and we were hoping for more podiums. But we were consistent, we were finishing races. The guys did a very good job so far because we never had a lot of problems. And this weekend I think it's a win that it's well-deserved for them because on Friday we damaged the car really bad. They had to work hard to repair it, so we missed qualifying. Second day we had problems with the gearbox. I had problems in the downshift. We missed that whole session by just running laps. The only problem-free day was Sunday, and it was the day that counted. I think they worked hard and they deserve that kind of result.

ERIC MAUK: Alex, talk about the pass of Rodolfo on that last restart. Did you know he didn't have any 'push to pass' left? You were definitely on yours going into turn five.

ALEX TAGLIANI: Actually, I passed Rodolfo going into turn five when he came out of the pits. Also I passed Justin Wilson going down in turn five, as well. No, I didn't know at that time who had 'push to pass' and who did not. So I was just doing my race. I think on one restart, I know Wilson was the leader at that time, and for me, I was going to try to pass him because he was pretty quick in the straightaway. My only opportunity was going to be on the restart, and I did it. And then with Rodolfo, unfortunately for him, he had cold tires, and I just went down on the inside of turn five really clean. And for us, you know, our car was very fast. It was not a very difficult race after the first stop. It was just trying to be consistent. The car was really quick all stint long. The tires were good. You know, every time the team was calling me to come into the pits, I was feeling that the car was at its best at that particular lap, so I could do basically everything I wanted with the car during the race and it felt really good.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. We'll take questions from the media now.

Q. Alex, you mentioned you led here in 2000 with six laps to go, had a problem. Today what was going through your mind when you saw that white flag? Was that one of the longest laps you've had in racing?

ALEX TAGLIANI: Yep, the longest. The longest track, too (laughter). A lot of things went through my mind - a lot. It was something that I was waiting for a long time. I was leading in Brazil, leading in Australia. I ran out of fuel. Leading here, in Montreal. I mean, it's just -- I think everything has to be right. You know, it's a series that when you have guys like Sebastien and Bruno and Paul Tracy, you know, the top teams in the series, they're doing everything right. They're doing everything right in the pits. They're doing everything right in the track. On top of that, they have bullets on the racetrack. If you want to win race in this series, you just basically have to put everything on the racetrack, out of the racetrack. For us I think we have a great team, and we just lack a little bit of consistency. We cannot be fast every racetrack. We're still searching for the best setup. But, you know, it's been only a year and a half that this team was created. There's still a lot of things to learn. I think to be here right now, it's already a big achievement for us. If we keep pushing in that direction, I think there's a lot more to come from this team.

Q. Rodolfo, we heard Alex's version of the pass for the lead right at the end there. Could you sort of give it from your perspective, him passing you down at the end of the back straightaway at turn five for the lead?

RODOLFO LAVIN: Yeah, definitely was coming out of the pits, obviously my tires were cold, low pressure. I think he was already one or two laps out there, so he was warm. Well, definitely, I just couldn't avoid it, you know. He just went much quicker than me into turn three, you know. Got a good shot out of turn three, he got me at the end of the straight. He was, you know, warm tires. I was just exiting the pits, and that was it.

Q. Sebastien, early on at the end of one of the first cautions, I was watching as you came out of 14, then did you actually brake to avoid the pace car? Looked like he really slowed you up.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: The thing, you're not supposed to pass the pace car.

Q. Is that what happened, is you braked?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, exactly.

Q. All right. That's how Paul got the jump on you?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah. And Paul was not supposed to pass Bruno either, you know. I have no explanation about that and I don't really want to comment about it. But there's been a big, big, big problem here, and I don't know what happened.

Q. This is your second podium in two years. Is this turning into one of your favorite racetracks?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Really the event has nothing to do with the racetrack. And for sure I just love the course. So does pretty much everybody else. But I'm not going to keep a good souvenir of this race, for sure.

ERIC MAUK: All right. We go racing next week at the Centrix Financial Grand Prix of Denver in the streets of the Mile High City. Thank you very much.

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