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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
Ryan Hunter-Reay
Jimmy Vasser
August 7, 2004


ELKHART LAKE, WISCONSIN

ERIC MAUK: You guys have been fast almost every session out. Feel pretty confident for the race tomorrow?

JIMMY VASSER: Well, it certainly is the best opportunity we've had to win a race all season. So, you know, Sebastien's been very difficult to deal with all season long, the pace-setter here all weekend. So he's going to be difficult. Ryan. I mean, it's going to be a tough race. The way things go, you can qualify third, and you never know what happens, where you might end up on the first corner. But I think if we can settle in and have a good race, good fuel economy, you know, we're going to put ourself in position to win.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow. Starting on the outside of the front row tomorrow by virtue of leading yesterday's first round qualifying, driver of the #4 Herdez Competition Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Ryan Hunter-Reay. Ryan's best time yesterday 1:43.909 seconds, 140.246 miles per hour. Ryan, as we alluded to yesterday, kind of scuffled a little bit the last three races after that big Milwaukee win. Now you're on the front row for tomorrow. Got to be a nice little boost for you guys.

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, for sure it is. It's a great thing we're on the front row here. The car was pretty good yesterday. Today we went with a bit more of conservative approach and ran on old tires in qualifying. Our last run, we ran on the new set, and we just underestimated the understeer we had in the car. I went out and it was just pushing everywhere. We knew we had it locked up for today, good front row start. Slept real good last night. The good news is we'll have fresh rubber all day tomorrow.

ERIC MAUK: Tell us a little bit about the tires today. They hold up the way you needed them to?

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Yeah, for sure. The tires were great. I wish I could have used them to their potential a bit more. That would have been a nice thing. But we got a lot of work to do tonight, and in the morning we got to make the front end of the car better. That's what we've been chasing all weekend; that's what we chase every weekend. My teammate Mario, he chases a bit different things. Always with my car it's understeer. We're trying. We're trying real hard. We'll get it. I know we will have a good race car tomorrow and we'll definitely have a good race. Racing with some good guys here.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow. Our polesitter for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Road America, presented by the Chicago Tribune, driver of the #2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Sebastien wins the pole by virtue of a time of 1:43.046 seconds, 141.420 miles per hour. Sebastien's fourth pole of the season, the ninth of his career. Sebastien has qualified on pole for four of the year's eight races. Sebastien, what is it about qualifying? How is it you guys are up here every weekend in qualifying?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I don't know. Just seems the McDonald's team is very good. We're working very hard for it. We have a strong baseline every weekend that we've been building since last year. And we're stronger and more consistent than last year. It's a team effort, and I think I've always been a good qualifier. So I'm just glad it's working out right now. Hopefully it's going to hold like that the whole season.

ERIC MAUK: A lot of places we go, that front row, that first lap, turn one's a little tricky. Here it seems to be a bit of a different animal. It might not be turn one but maybe a little later on the track where you might get balled up. How do you handle that first lap?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, for sure, 'push to pass' is going to be a problem for me here because everybody is going to be all over me. I don't know how it's going to work out, but I'm going to try to make a clean, fast start and then after I think we'll see the value of the car. So hopefully we'll have a good run. I'm not really too concerned. I think we've been fast, as you said, the whole weekend. And it should be a nice race. I just hope that it's not going to be any disturbance by the weather, but nobody really can assure that.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow. We'll take questions from the media.

Q. Sebastien, looks like you had kind of a bumpy off-course ride there. Can you tell us what happened?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it's pretty simple really. The white line is completely covered by rubber, and I never saw it before I actually went off. And I thought I was pretty far from the limit of the racetrack, and I was just trying to prepare myself first fast lap. I don't know, I just -- when I finished to brake, I just (inaudible) the wheel, and I understood I was having my left rear in the grass. And the thing stepped up, and I thought I was going to lose it. I went in the gravel trap, hit the tires, but I've been able to come back on the racetrack. Really fortunate that I was not in a hot lap because really I could have end up exactly like Tracy.

Q. Sebastien, you had said something I think at the last race regarding the number of setups your team would try from baseline. It almost sounded now that everybody's more familiar with everybody that you stick to fewer combinations. Can you explain that?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, well, basically I think the biggest progress on my side from the team, on the McDonald's team for sure is that we've been able to have a generic street course setup that's working very well. And on road courses, it's pretty much always the same thing: you just adapt the ride heights, and that was the case already before I came. But the street course were like, okay, there was the Toronto setup, the Vancouver setup, the Long Beach setup, the St. Pete setup. We couldn't really figure out a way to make it work everywhere. So it was kind of really a problem because we really had a hard time to get some references. So for sure, the way we worked during the winter, we've been able to set up something that's more consistent and working much better. And I'm happier with the car, especially in race conditions.

Q. There may be some question about the weather tomorrow. How would you feel if it rains during the race? Could it improve your chances or make it difficult?

JIMMY VASSER: It depends. Depends on where you are in the pack. It could start raining in the middle of the race. I mean, usually if you have a good car in the dry, it's good in the wet. You know, I think I'm reasonable in the wet, but I'm certainly not gold medal swimmer, that's for sure. Learning to race in California, you don't get many chances to one in the wet. I would prefer it to stay dry myself.

ERIC MAUK: Ryan?

RYAN HUNTER-REAY: Oh, I'll go either way. I like racing in the rain. I've raced here a lot with Skip Barber in the wet, so I know the place. But, like Jimmy said, if you have a good car, that's the key here in the wet. I guess we'll have to see. It will be interesting if it starts raining in the middle of the race instead of beforehand when everybody can prepare for it. We'll see. It's the beauty of this series.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It just depends when it happens. If it happens before the start of the race, we might never start the thing. I don't know. No, really, you know my point of view about last year, so it's really not even really worth talking about it. It's been raining a lot ever since I've been driving, and I really like rain conditions. It's pretty well-known. No, I don't really care, except that I'm just afraid that the race is never going to happen if it rains really hard. I guess we see.

ERIC MAUK: That will wrap it up. We go racing at 2:00 tomorrow. Thanks, guys.



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