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Champ Car World Series: Molson Indy Toronto

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Molson Indy Toronto

Champ Car World Series: Molson Indy Toronto

Sebastien Bourdais
Patrick Carpentier
Jimmy Vasser
July 11, 2004


TORONTO, ONTARIO

ERIC MAUK: Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post-race press conference as we introduce you to the top three finishers of today's Molson Indy Toronto, race six of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. At the moment I am joined by our two of our top three finishers. Finishing third today, Patrick Carpentier, driver of the #7 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, for Forsythe Championship Racing. Patrick earns the 19th podium of his career and the first of the season. Up here on the podium in a very important race for you. Tell us about how it feels.

PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, no, it's great. First time in Toronto, always seem to have a little bit of bad luck, never went our way. At the beginning of the race, I thought we were going to get lapped two or three times because the car got really, really loose. Tried to go into the hairpin, then three, four cars passed me at the same time. I just kept losing ground. I was hoping to go to the pit stop because it was a small pit stop window. So made it to the pit stop. After that, we adjusted some stuff in the car and the car was really fast. We managed to come back. But after stalling the car a couple of times down the back, I was hoping the cars were not going to go around and pass me. So they started me up, and I stalled it again. So I was pretty lucky up there. Then after that, it was survival of the fittest, I guess.

ERIC MAUK: Were you worried at that point that it was a terminal problem with the car?

PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah, at the beginning I thought it was really bad. I could see the pickup of the front tires, I thought we broke a sway bar or something like that. I think I just had too much rear brake. I just slowly killed the rear tires. Every time I was braking for the corner, the back end would get really loose, and it got kind of out of control. But after I adjust the car and we took some wing out, did a few things, the car was really stable and pretty fast. So on the restarts, we could pass quite a few cars.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good run. Our second place finisher today, Jimmy Vasser, driver of the #12 Gulfstream Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for PKV Racing, earning the 31st podium of his career, and his first since last year at Australia, Jimmy Vasser.

JIMMY VASSER: Thank you.

ERIC MAUK: Again, Jimmy, a pretty eventful day out there for you.

JIMMY VASSER: Yeah. For me it was just a matter of keeping our nose clean. We kind of have just been snipping outside the top five time-wise for qualifying. We always seem to be ninth or tenth or something. So we really need to work on the technical side of our program to get the car faster. But today was one of those days that you just need to keep your nose clean. I made it through some of the carnage at the first corner, had a good seat for a lot of the fireworks that were just in front of me. Took an opportunity, made a few moves on Tagliani and Servia when I had to. When you're one lap on warm tires, they're on cold, you got to take the shot. It worked for me. The race kind of came to us. It was one of those days for us. It's a great finish for PKV Racing. Getting the good points, days like this you need to get good points. First podium for me with the team. Gulfstream, our sponsor. We're very, very happy with the result. But, you know, we do realize that we need to get more speed out of our car and fight for those race wins purely from the start.

ERIC MAUK: Three top fives in the last four starts for Jimmy and the PKV team. First podium as a car owner/driver. Are you happy with the way things are going? Look like you're starting to put some results together.

JIMMY VASSER: Yeah, I'm happy with the energy on our team. I've been working real hard to get camaraderie with the guys, to get a real positive attitude and everybody pulling in the same direction. Just the basics for teamwork. It's starting to come around. I think in that respect, the team is getting really good. You can come under the tent and feel the good energy. The stops are good. Everybody is getting to know each other, working with each other. Everything is second nature. We need to work on the technical side of our team and get our race car faster. That's really the thing that's kind of coming slower than we want. But the car was reasonable in the race and drivable. We just need to make it a bit quicker. For an old guy like me, I need to have a faster car (laughter).

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Nice run.

JIMMY VASSER: Thank you.

ERIC MAUK: The winner of the Molson Indy Toronto, Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing. Sebastien wins his third consecutive race, his fourth of the year, the seventh of his career, and he can tie a Champ Car record if he wins in Vancouver in two weeks' time, as the Champ Car record is four consecutive race wins held by Al Unser, Jr., Alex Zanardi and Paul Tracy. Another win from the pole. Any anxious moments out there for you?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, you make me anxious because the last time you said I was going to make a record, they took me out of the front row in Cleveland. I guess I'm going to have a bad weekend in Vancouver now. But that's all right. I think the McDonald's crew did an awesome job. We had a great car today. We knew that doing the pole position was a big advantage. I've had a moment at the start with Paul, he tried really hard. He moved to the left before I could even take the race line, so I had to stay inside and brake inside at turn three, first lap. It was a tough call. But right there the yellow came out, and kind of, you know, slowed down a bit the whole mood of the race. We had to restart. I think, you know, it's always easier to do a good restart from the front when it's a single line. After that, I've had a very, you know, difficult first stint. I had to save fuel as much as I could. The target from the time was really high. I was struggling to keep up with the mileage and to keep Tracy in my back. It worked out really, really well. The team did a great job at figuring out what was the right figure because we stopped one lap later than Paul, and we still have been able to hold him up. I think he wore a bit his tires and he had to push a bit harder than I, you know, to keep up. So after that, really the race came to us because we had one-lap advantage and two sets of stickers for the next following stints. You know, I just push really hard and try to pit early on the second stop to make sure that we were not going to get stopped by a yellow. I put a very good lap, 60.3, just pulled away, and after that was a pretty easy race except we had a lot of restarts. I think we did a really good job today.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Our top five in the points after six events, Sebastien moves into the points lead with 164, Bruno Junqueira falls to second with 136, Patrick closes in on the leaders, third with 129, Paul Tracy is fourth with 108, Alex Tagliani is fifth with 103. Jimmy vaults all the way up to sixth, he has 101 on the year. Take questions from the media now.

Q. Jimmy, this race was particularly tough on a lot of people. There was a lot of banging and bumping, pushing, shoving, penalties. Do you think people were just overdriving? Why did we see so much of it today?

JIMMY VASSER: Well, the grid has been very tight, you know. Sebastien pulled away very easily. He was kind of the class of the field all weekend long. But I think you've seen the grid be very tight second, third on back to the top ten. Guys are pushing very hard. It's competitive. Sometimes it's very inviting, especially on a restart or some of these braking zones to try to make a maneuver because it's easier at the start of a stint than once everything settles in. It's very difficult to pass. Guys like to try to take that opportunity. You know, it's very high, high energy out there. The guys are trying to make the moves. I think over the years you've seen a lot of this kind of banging and stuff like that. Street racing kind of promotes it. I think that's part of the excitement of street racing, you never know what's going to happen. It's good for the fans. I think if it was just a procession, single file all the time, it wouldn't be very exciting.

Q. Sebastien, three wins in a row, taking over the points lead. Can you talk a little bit how you feel about momentum?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, obviously I think things are rolling very well for us. But, you know, I just really want to stay focused on the target, which is to try to win the championship. Motor racing, you know, things are moving so fast, you are really successful one day and the next day you're nowhere. I just want to really stay focused and keep pushing as we've been doing since the beginning of the year. If we can achieve that, we should be in very good shape for the championship at the end.

Q. Jimmy, in your opening comments you made reference to your passing Tag and Oriol. Can you take us through that?

JIMMY VASSER: I came in one lap earlier than them. I was struggling to make mileage, we really have all weekend long, having to use a lot of throttle to make the car do what I want it to do in the corners. I came in a lap earlier. I had a real good out lap. I saw them coming out of the pits as I was crossing the start/finish. I had one lap heat in my tires as opposed to them. I took Oriol Servia in turn three on the outside, and then took Tagliani in the next corner, the left-hander. I don't know if it's turn five. I believe it is. Maybe it's four. Went down the inside. He was a little bit, you know, still struggling with the cold tires. There was a crack and I took it. At times like that, you have to take -- I got a little hot tires, and they're still on cold, I had to take the shot, otherwise I would have been stuck behind them, I think. So that's really the point where my race opened up. I was able to open up some distance. It's much easier -- it's always a lot easier to run fast when you have clear air in front of you. The car operates in a whole different manner. If you're stuck behind a couple cars, you can't really get close, the automobiles, they're aerodynamically real efficient. If you get a little dirty air, they don't work as well. Clear air is the answer for these cars.

Q. Pat, with a couple laps to go, you were fourth. Can you sort of explain what your crew told you in those final moments after it went green? Did you run into Hunter-Reay?

PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah. I wanted to get that third place finish. I knew it was 'push to pass'. I had two seconds of 'push to pass' left. Once you push it, if you lift, then you don't have it anymore. I pushed it and then I went to the left, he went to the left, I went to the right, he went to the right, left, right, and I couldn't lift, so I hit him (laughter). Then that was it. Made the pass. I saw smoke and part of my wing go, but I thought, "I'm okay for braking." I thought he'd had a flat tire. His car was going like this. He didn't notice it. I'm going to go braking, I think I'm going to make the pass. He couldn't make the pass. He couldn't stop. But I knew I was not going to get penalized. I hope so. I've been the last few weeks. Because to me it was considered blocking, because he went left and right, left and right, three or four times. If I would have lift, he would have been done.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: The only thing I can say is I'm really glad I was up front because it looks like it was really crazy out there (laughter).

Q. You've never done well here in Toronto. You have a podium now. You go to Vancouver, another race you've never really done well in. How are you feeling now going out west?

PATRICK CARPENTIER: I'm pretty happy. One thing I wish is we could have finished Cleveland. If we wouldn't have had that mechanical break down, we'd be right up there with Sebastien. But that's racing and we just got to try to keep getting the points. For me, Toronto, I love the city, but it's always been a very difficult track for me. Never really done well here. Always had some sort of bad luck. But today I'm really happy. Actually qualifying sixth here is about my best effort. Finishing the race in third place is good. I was hoping to come out of here with some points. Vancouver has been a good track for me. The tracks that are coming on after that I really like. I'm looking forward to it. As he says, Sebastien might have a bit of bad luck now that he mentioned it (laughter).

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Thank you, Patrick.

Q. Sebastien, you touched on it just a second ago in a joking fashion, but how much did the chaos going on behind you affect what you were doing and how aware of it where you?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, apparently I missed a lot of it. I saw it was bad, but when I hear the comments of P2 and P3 guys saying it must have been really bad out there. You know, I just really tried to keep my nose clean and just focused on what I was doing. You know, that was the key for me. There's been a lot of restarts, and it's always difficult with a bit of fatigue and everything. It's always possible to do a mistake. So that was really the only thing I had to do, to stay fast, but also keep the thing on the racetrack.

Q. Sebastien, it seems like your team really changed their pit stop strategy because it always seems that Paul Tracy's team has had him go longer than Newman/Haas to kind of get in front, yet it almost seems, I don't know if there was much risk in what you did, but can you explain why you made that change?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think we faked it a bit. This time we knew the window was really short at first because of the fact that we had -- you know, with the two-stop strategy, we had like a five-lap window also. Basically the buffer rule we were applying since the beginning of the year would not have prevented us really to get in trouble in case after late yellow. We said, "You know what, we're going to try this time." You know, we pushed really hard on the first one, and then we've been able to be conservative on the second one because I was very fast. So I pulled away. Once the gap was built, we were able to pit early without exposing ourselves. I was pretty happy with how things went. But it might have been different, you know, if Paul and Wilson did not get into each other. I think when they did that, it really was much easier and straightforward for me. Obviously, you know, we are very fast, but it would have been probably harder.

Q. Sebastien, certainly you have a good run of luck here. Well-known in racing: Nothing is as easy as it looks. What have been the one or two major adjustments you've didn't compared to '03 that you've done this year?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think I said we really improved the general street course setup over the winter. We applied kind of a different philosophy. The setup actually we have here is really, really, really close to what we had in Long Beach, so I'm really glad of that because that means we're not going to get lost in any kind of, you know, guessing process which is really confusing for a team. When I showed up in Newman/Haas Racing, they were really able to give us and provide us some very good cars, but we had like 10 setups going on. And right now I'm really glad that we've achieved something, a very strong baseline that we know to work around and make it better on every racetrack. That's probably the biggest part of the success we have right now, both Bruno and I.

Q. All three of you, what do you each think of the 'push to pass' experiment and would you make any changes to the amount of time you have a 'push to pass'?

PATRICK CARPENTIER: To me it was fantastic. Some guys use it early on, some guys save it for the end. It's really different. I think that's why for sure there's a bit more crashes or guys that get together I think because of that, because it gives us the opportunity to make a pass, where normally it might not. It's not a lot, but it's enough to succeed making that pass or to keep from getting passed. To me it's a fantastic thing. It just makes the races more exciting.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I guess you've seen a lot of passing. That's just a result of that. Guys see opportunities because they can have a small advantage over the other guy. That's good enough to make a pass. I think, you know, Jimmy showed how good it was.

JIMMY VASSER: I think it's a great thing for the series. I think it's good for the young ones to connect with because it's like a video game, right? You can push the turbo boost, take off. I think in some places it's not as effective than it is in others. Perhaps maybe a little more boost (laughter). Tracy came up with an idea that maybe it was a good thing on the first lap, with full fuel, cold tires, cold brakes, some people are on it, some aren't, it could promote pile-ups. That might be something we need to look at. I thought it was a good point.

PATRICK CARPENTIER: It's good to have the back light flashing so everybody knows which one's using it and which one is not.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: At the end of the day, everybody is using it, so...

Q. Sebastien and Jimmy, we kind of seem to believe that you two guys were the only guys that didn't actually touch anybody during the race. Is that true? Did you get away without any contact?

JIMMY VASSER: I didn't touch anybody. No, I didn't touch anybody. Paint cost money, I don't want to get hit. I don't want to scratch the PKV Gulfstream.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, for me the only incident has been Paul when I got kind of slow at the apex of turn three at the start. It was already yellow, but looks like he didn't get the message. I was backing off, but he run into me. Not too bad. It was all right.

Q. From the point of view of you two guys and Jimmy, the last restart, any chance, were you worried at all about Jimmy at that point? Jimmy, did you have any feeling that you could do anything with Sebastien at that point?

JIMMY VASSER: I'll take it first. Sure, I'm always trying to stay with him, if he makes a mistake, to be open. But I was just trying to save my life through turn one. I mean, it was treacherous. I actually at the exit coming out of the back straight, I was trying to stay on the power because I didn't have any 'push to pass' left. They told me Hunter-Reay had 12 left. He had an opportunity, if he got a good exit, to have a run on me. I was out of the power coming onto the back straight, completely in the marbles, trying to stay off the wall, figuring I was going to get overtaken. Sebastien was taking off. I looked at my mirrors. Much to my surprise, they weren't really there. I kind of seen the baloney going on with Carpentier and Hunter-Reay, and I was like, "Thank God, because I'm in no position to defend myself." Ironically when I got down to the back straight, I saw Sebastien all locked up going into the braking zone. In the final lap, I was like, "Nice if he carries on a little bit." It was a pretty tough restart lap. Not a lot of grip.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, the biggest problem was just that basically we've been piling up in the yellows, you know, and we could never really clean up the tires. So at the end of the day, you just have a bigger tires than usually. With no grip on it, it's marble, it was really tough. You needed two or three laps to really clean up the tires, and we never had a chance to do that in the last 15 laps. You know, it just got harder and harder, and easier to do a mistake. I'm just glad, I really tried hard, you know, in the first lap, and obviously it worked out okay. I thought I had the control of the race, but I just was afraid to do a mistake over a patch, lose it, just end up in the wall. It's always the big problem.

Q. Jimmy, you said had you a pretty good view of some of the incidents. Would you tell us the best or worst one you saw?

JIMMY VASSER: I saw something with Carpentier and Tagliani.

PATRICK CARPENTIER: That was the wrong car. I was not in this one (laughter).

JIMMY VASSER: I was able to get by him. I think Tag hit the 'push to pass' from way far back coming onto the back straight. I think Pat had three car lengths on him. I was like, "Wow, that was pretty ambitious." But he was flashing all the way down the straightaway. By the time they got to the braking zone, Tag really tried to stick it in there, and Pat wanted to brake as late as he could. Tag kind of forced you into a mistake.

PATRICK CARPENTIER: Yeah. But he had the right to it, though. He was with the 'push to pass', I was trying to save mine a bit, and I never thought he would get it.

JIMMY VASSER: Came from a long ways.

PATRICK CARPENTIER: Came back from the braking zone. I couldn't stop.

JIMMY VASSER: I saw Hunter-Reay run into the back of Allmendinger. It was yellow. He just ran right into the back of him, spun him out. Allmendinger was really mad. When I drove by, he had two fists in the air, shaking them. Then Tracy and Wilson, I don't know who is at fault, but Wilson had a terrible accident off the concrete.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Got a wiggle or something. He was there. Suddenly when I looked in my rearview mirror, he wasn't there anymore.

JIMMY VASSER: He was very slow. So Tracy was all over him. So I was right behind that. It was a duel down into the corner. I saw what happened.

Q. Sebastien, it's halfway through the year now. You've got three wins in a row. You have the points lead. Are you hoping this is going to open up some doors in F1 for you? Are you hoping to stay here?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think it's really early to talk about that. People are asking me the question a lot - you first. I mean, (inaudible) is talking about me in the Formula 1 paddock, that doesn't mean that teams are talking about me. The only thing I want to do right now is keep focused on what I'm doing. I have a job to perform. It's to win this championship. You know, if I have a shot in Formula 1, I have a shot. But I've been knocking at the door for a long time. I won the 3000, never got a chance. I got one, but the team collapsed like a month later. Since then I never really had another chance. I think it's really difficult to have one. If it comes, I will consider it. But, you know, first I have something to do and to do well for McDonald's, and I will do my best.

ERIC MAUK: Before we break this up, race day attendance, 72,561 today. Three-day total of 164,218. Thank you very much.

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