Champ Car World Series: Molson Indy Toronto
Topics: Molson Indy Toronto
ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we're going to get and get with our post-qualifying press conference for the first round of qualifying for this weekend's Molson Indy Toronto, round six of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. My name is Eric Mauk. I'm the news manager for the Champ Car World Series. We're joined by two of our top three qualifiers at the moment. We'll go ahead and start with our third qualifier on the day, Bruno Junqueira, driver of the #6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman-Haas Racing. Bruno turned a fast lap of 59.448 seconds, 106.278 miles per hour. Bruno, you're right there. You're just a couple tenths off provisional pole. Are you happy with the way things are going?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think it's a couple of hundreds, not a couple of tenths. Very close between me, Tracy and Sebastien, very close throughout the field. Like the top ten are on the 59's. Pretty amazing. I mean, the PacifiCare car today was good. The first qualifying run, I got a really good lap. Just three hundredths behind Tracy. Second qualifying run, unfortunately I got a little bit of traffic. I thought I could go maybe a tenth faster than I did on the first one. But that's okay, I think. Tracy didn't improve, as well, just Sebastien. Was a very close qualifying run. I think the way it's looking, it's going to be a very exciting race. For sure Tracy and Sebastien, being the main rivals, I don't count Carpentier out, and Justin Wilson, as well. It's been very close. Try to improve the PacifiCare car tomorrow. Try to improve the start position.
ERIC MAUK: Bruno is correct. I read my decimal points wrong. He is just four one-hundredths off the provisional pole for the today. Bruno, tell us about how the tires held up. A track that can be a little rough at times.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I mean, this morning I was quite impressed with the Bridgestone tires, to be true. I did like four or five outings, and every outing I improve a little bit my lap time. And that's very unusual. I think the tires are holding off very good. Very often when I have new tires, I go faster. But the Bridgestone tires are so good, I was able to improve every outing this morning. For sure the track was improving. But the tires were holding up very well. I'm quite happy with that.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Our second place qualifier on the day, Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman-Haas Racing. Sebastien is second in the points. He's second on the day with the best lap of 59.410 seconds, just three one-thousandths off the time set by Paul Tracy, that's a speed of 106.346 miles per hour. Sebastien, you came here wanting to improve over what you did last year. Are you happy with what you got today?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I'm just a bit disappointed, because three thousandths, you take something out of the car, even a very small piece of something, and it's enough. But at the end of the day, the McDonald's car is in the first row, so that's pretty good. It's going to take a faster time tomorrow. We're going to work on that. But for sure last year, it was one of the toughest events for me because we got rain on and off, never really was able to find my rhythm out there. I'm much happier with the balance and the grip we have. Who knows. I mean, in Cleveland was the opposite situation, and we just learned at 7 p.m. we were not on the front row any more. Maybe Paul is going to have the bad news - I don't know.
ERIC MAUK: To the best of my knowledge, no protests have been filed yet. Our provisional polesitter on the day, the leader of the qualifying session. He wins one championship point for leading the session, moving him to 86 on the year, and moving him into a tie for fourth in the championship standings. It also guarantees him a front row starting spot, Paul Tracy, driver of the #1 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, and the defending race winner of the Molson Indy Toronto. Paul, looks like you picked up where you left off last year. How do you think it went?
PAUL TRACY: I felt it went really well. We had a good car all day. Made a change after the first set of tires, and kind of hurt the balance, so I wasn't able to get the time in the second run. I had a little bit of traffic. I was anticipating a red flag when I saw AJ's car in the runner-off but that never materialized. Never really got the second run together. But the car's good. I think we got a good direction for tomorrow, and it's going to be quicker tomorrow, so we'll have to improve.
ERIC MAUK: We had heavy, heavy cloud cover today, it was a little cooler. If the skies open up tomorrow, if it gets sunny, warm, educate the people about what that means to the racetrack.
PAUL TRACY: Well, for sure tomorrow the track's going to improve. It did last year by almost a second. It always does. Barring that it doesn't rain or, you know, there's no major problems, I think the track will be quicker tomorrow. You know, as the track rubbers up here, it takes quite a long time for the track to get rubber here, and usually right at the very end of the qualifying tomorrow it will be its quickest.
ERIC MAUK: Some of you may have seen on the way in, the attendance for the first day was announced. We had an attendance today of 41,704 for the first day. Open it up to questions from the media now.
Q. (Question regarding Alex Tagliani.) Can you talk about what's been going on and how you're dealing with it?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I think I showed on the racetrack how I'm dealing with it. I've been at home in Las Vegas all week. I arrived to Toronto to find that Alex is doing a media tour basically bashing me and my hometown over the mistake he made. I find it very disrespectful. You know, I dealt with it the way that I deal with it: To go out there and run the car fast. Today we put it on the pole. So what else can I say?
Q. Are you under any pressure to really kickstart your season? You talked about Cleveland, down on points. What is it going to take to catch these guys?
PAUL TRACY: It's going to be hard. Every time that I'm at a press conference, I'm usually sitting in between both of them. So it's hard to break away. That was shown last year. It was very difficult to get a long streak of good results. You know, I guess from our standpoint, the only thing that I can do is just concentrate on getting the best from my car and trying to win as many races as I can. You know, we've been competitive all year. It's just we haven't had the kind of luck we had last year. So there's no better place than here to hopefully turn the season in the right corner. This is the biggest race of the year for me. It always has been and it always will be. So this is the big race for me every year.
Q. Paul, any complication between you and Tag on the track at all?
PAUL TRACY: No, never, no.
Q. Nothing at the entrance?
PAUL TRACY: No. This isn't hockey, Rick (laughter).
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't know. Might have gone to the restroom somewhere in between. No, I don't know. I mean, as I said, it's just a very close call. You know, on the street course, three thousandths is nothing. The braking points and everything are not so accurate on a road course. Anywhere, three thousandths is nothing. We're just going to try hard tomorrow. We have another day. It's just too bad that we did not do it today because it's a front row guarantee. But it's all right. You know, we going to try hard tomorrow, so...
Q. (Question regarding the grass-roots system in Canada)?
PAUL TRACY: Well, I think the grass-roots system is pretty good. I mean, there's a lot of go-kart racing in Canada as well as North America, throughout the world. That's really where you start. I think the lower formula in some areas can be improved to cut costs. I think that's the biggest stumbling block, you know. At the upper level of go-karting, it's gotten to be very expensive. At the lower level of car racing, whether it's Formula Ford, Formula Renault, whatever it is, it can be quite expensive, Formula Ford 2000. I like the idea of what we raced the first time last week with the BMW series. That looked like quite a nice little car. From what I understand, it's fairly cost-effective. So that looked like a nice formula for guys coming up.
Q. Did you make any changes this year versus last year in the preparation?
PAUL TRACY: Well, for me really no change. We came with the same setup we ran last year. Obviously, the weather conditions are different. We made some small changes, you know, diff change, wing change. But everything we did really was worse than what we had. We're pretty much like we ran last year. You know, Newman/Haas team has obviously made a step forward. I would imagine they changed what they ran here last year.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: We changed the setup quite dramatically. We had a big improvement in Long Beach, too. In this line, we choose a direction and we keep working on that one. So it's quite different from '03. That's why this morning we were kind of finding our way, because we had to tune a bit the car differently.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Same.
Q. Same as last year?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: No, same as Sebastien. For sure last year was quite close of Tracy in qualifying, but not in the race. Came out a little bit different setup, trying to be good in qualifying, but good in the race, as well.
Q. Provisional pole, it's unlikely you guys are going to start side by side. What do you do on tight street circuits to keep out of each other's way as you're battling for a race win and championship?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Me and Sebastien?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think first the championship is open. I never take Tracy out, even Carpentier, as well. I think the championship still like ten races to go, a lot of points. But for sure a start on the street track, like here, are difficult, as well. It's a little bit different as Cleveland or Portland, that they will arrive at high speed and brake. Here, you'll be maybe fourth gear when you go to turn one or maybe just in fifth. But you are not that fast. Is important to have a clean start and a clean race. This race builds up a lot of marbles, and it's very easy to make a mistake. It's important to get a good result. I hope me and Sebastien can have a good qualifying position, as well, and you can get a good result again for Newman/Haas Racing.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You know, I think we respect really each other with Bruno. I think there's really no problem. You know, we're going to see who's in front tomorrow. At the start for sure we're not going to try to take each other out. It's a long season, as Bruno said. You know, it's not the guy who is going to finish in front -- it's not because the guy is going to finish in front of the other one, he's going to win the championship. Let's try and be consistent up front.
Q. Any deterioration or changes in the track this year from last year?
PAUL TRACY: No, I don't think so. I mean, I think pretty much the track is the same. You know, it's a little bit bumpy. There's one bump I think at the end of the back straightaway that's a little bit bigger than it was last year. But generally speaking, the car is the same ride height, same everything.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think in turn three, the patch there.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think the patch -- is a bit more slippery than last year. They kind of grounded the thing, so it's a bit dusty, still. The rubber is not really sticking on it.
Q. End of the backstretch?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: All the patches, so it's going to take a while to get some rubber down there. I think eventually it's going to be better.
ERIC MAUK: All right. That will wrap-up our press conference. We set the final grid tomorrow with qualifying beginning at 1:45. Thank you.
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