Champ Car World Series: Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey
Topics: Tecate/Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey
ERIC MAUK: Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to this afternoon's press conference with the top three 3 qualifiers for Sunday's Tecate Telmex Grand Prix of Monterrey. We are joined by the top three qualifiers in today's session, which was the first one under the new qualifying format for Champ Car, a format that we are trying here in Monterrey as something that Champ Car Race Operations came up with to provide the fans with a little more on-track action and hopefully create some more drama and give something for the media and fans to follow as we go along the way as we set the grid for Sunday's event. Joined by the top three qualifiers, here we'll start with our third place qualifier, the driver of the #34 Mi-Jack Conquest Ford-Cosworth Lola, Justin Wilson. This is Justin's first time in the top three in one of our sessions in this season. As many of you know, he was driving in Formula 1 last year for Jaguar and Minardi. He drives for Mi-Jack Conquest. This here, his second Champ Car event, he sets the fastest time of 1:16:983, that's 98.391 miles per hour. Justin, how do you feel about the way things went to the?
JUSTIN WILSON: I'm generally very happy. The first session, we were very good. We went out and did a lap and I was happy with that lap. The car felt pretty good. We just came in, sat in the pits for the last two or three minutes and let everyone else go and see what they could do. I wasn't too concerned at that stage. The second session, again, went very well. A little bit of difficulty considering the red flag in the middle, but generally was quite pleased. We lagged a little bit in that, we lost the back of the car, but something to work on for tomorrow. Generally very pleased with the way the Mi-Jack Conquest Team has worked, and they have done a great job and no real complaints with the car. We haven't really touched much all day. So that's good news, and we've still got a little bit to find for tomorrow, but we're very happy.
ERIC MAUK: Your first time out even here on this track and you ran strong in the practice session, both sectors of the qualifying you ran well; do you like this track? What do you think about your first time out here?
JUSTIN WILSON: I like the track. I think it's very good. It's something different. It's not just the typical circuit that I got used to going to. So you've got to think about it, and you can gain time in places but lose it in others. So it's something that different and it makes it interesting to drive. Like you say, we were quick all morning, as well, so that bodes well. Just looking forward to tomorrow.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations and good luck tomorrow. Our second place qualifier on the day, the driver of the #6 PacifiCare/Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Bruno Junqueira. He put up a qualifying time of 1:16:881, for 98.521 miles per hour. Bruno, second in the session, how do you feel about the way things went?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think today the car was good. The PacifiCare car handles very well, in the morning session and both qualifying session, the red flag on the second qualifying session didn't help us, but that was okay. I'm a little bit frustrated, because I actually got the fastest lap in qualifying and didn't get the pole. But on the other hand, the pole is just a point, there's no guarantee. Let's see, I think tomorrow is the day that really counts in qualifying, because all of the times today will be erased for tomorrow, and I hope we can improve the car a little bit. Paul got the good qualify for tomorrow.
ERIC MAUK: You ran top five last year, you have three years of experience on this track under your belt, pretty happy with the setup coming in here? Are you pretty confident that you can go faster?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Yeah, pretty confident. I think the PacifiCare Newman/Haas car was really good last year in the race. Had the fastest race lap and I think we are confident a little bit, and Sebastien has been good, as well, both Newman/Haas cars, and both racing in the top three. But I hope we can -- I know that's not going to be easy, because we had a problem and we are not too concerned that he'll be good, but maybe there's a good chance.
ERIC MAUK: Best of luck tomorrow. Our qualifying leader for Friday, the driver of the #2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth, your track record holder from Fundidora Park, Sebastien Bourdais. He put up a quick time of the day of 1:15:978, that's 99.692 miles per hour, and gets a point for leading today's qualifying, giving him 28 on the season and putting him just four behind championship leader, Paul Tracy. Congratulations and tell us about your session today.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think the track this morning, everything went very smoothly. I'm very happy for this McDonald's crew. We are fast. Just disappointed we don't have the front row guaranteed any more, but we got the point. And tomorrow we should be up front, we already qualified for the top ten contention tomorrow, and hopefully we will repeat the same kind of performance. Yeah, for sure, it's everything on Saturday now and Friday doesn't matter anymore. So, you know, I guess every day is different. We are just going to try and keep things going the same this time.
ERIC MAUK: You set the track record in winning the pole here at 1:14:009 (ph), can you get there tomorrow? Can anyone get there tomorrow?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I think it's going to be easier to be on pole probably. You know, it looks like the tires are a bit better and the racetrack, and also, the track needs to be cleaner. So, we already are a second faster than we were at the same moment last year. I guess it was already through this morning, so it should be a second faster at the end of the week.
Q. Sebastien, how did you dare your old friend Bruno, you are ready to start going up and tell Bruno -- inaudible?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It's going to be very strong contention for the championship and it's good to see that Tracy is not unbeatable. He's doing some mistakes, too, and just- it's good to be together on the press conference, and if everything goes like that all season long, we should bring the crown at the end of the year back to Newman/Haas Racing and that's the target.
Q. A lot of us in the press have been talking about this new qualifying format, and we find it confusing and I don't know what else to say. I wonder if you can tell us your feelings about qualifying format and how it might affect the grid and the race?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think it's better probably not to talk about it. You know, it's just confusing, frustrating for everybody. It's one try, and I just, you know -- everybody has been expressing some input on it, and I guess we're going to go back to the original system, with maybe some improvements, but it might be a bad thing or a good thing. All in all, for me, it's probably the most frustrating situation, because we know that Friday doesn't really matter in this racetrack, but at least when you are the fastest car on Friday last year, you are at the pole position and you had the front pole. I guess that's affecting more the guy who is up front on Friday, for me.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think the new qualifying system is really bad. None of the fans that are here understand, and I think people don't respect the fans. That's the first thing. Now, just find out, because actually, not because of me, but because I was fastest in the session and fastest of today;s qualifying, not just the session. There is a lot of bad things happening on this new system. The worst thing is when they came after that, our teams and our drivers didn't like it. We told them to try to like speak with the people to, oh, let's go back to the other one or let's make them change and they didn't listen to us, that's really bad. They just tell those good things in the press, and that's been for like last year and this year, but at some point, they never listen. The qualifying team, the point, the pit stops, mandatories on the race again, I said in Long Beach and Tracy and all the other drivers complained, as well, and they didn't change, you know. Everything that is -- drivers and things says, makes no difference. That's very frustrating, because I think last year, rules were really, really good. We didn't need to -- I mean, the racing rules are good. We have really good engines, good for everybody, same tires. Push to pass was a good idea, I have to say. But it was good, the racing was good. They didn't need to change that and make it complicated, especially qualifying.
ERIC MAUK: Justin, your thoughts?
JUSTIN WILSON: Obviously, I'm new to the championship so I don't really have much experience or much to compare in Champ Cars. But for me today, I like the changes and I've done very well with it. So I can't really comment. I can't say anything.
Q. Would you say that the experience in Formula 1 helps you out now and you are going up in progress?
JUSTIN WILSON: I think I have more confidence in myself, and it helps when you go to some of these circuits, new car, new track and you've got to go out there and find the limits very quickly. I'm used to having to do that, so that helps. At the end of the day, you get the same kind of experience in Formula 3000, as well. I think it shows that that's a good feeling. It puts you under the pressure and that's what it's all about.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think we have been talking about it already. They know we are not happy. It looks like it was not very clear for them after Long Beach. So this time it's very clear. Obviously, as a group, there are different comments about the rules and nobody is completely on the same kind of frequency, but I guess they understood that it was not satisfying. We are not going to change that right now, it's too late. But hopefully it's going to come back to something better for the next races.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think there is no way. I talk with the CART officials so many times and they don't listen. I really am not expecting any change. The only thing that can change is like to have the drivers complain, maybe they can realize they are not happy. But maybe the owners of the series can realize it. But the guys that run the series, not the owners, I don't know, they are -- I don't understand. The drivers always complain and they never change. I don't think they are going to change.
Q. There were times out there it looks like you were ice racing, a lot of cars ended up on the grass, can you talk about the track conditions and what kind of improvement you expect during the weekend, if it's going to stay as difficult to stay on track?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think the group is going higher and higher, as it's always been here. Again, it's a step higher than it was comparing to last year. So, I think it's good. But, you know, it's still very slick and you're still going to see a lot of cars going through the grass and things like that, which is actually what makes this race so fun. When you see mistakes, then guys are going back and forth and passing each other. That's why it's a very interesting race to follow and that's also why I like it.
JUSTIN WILSON: I think it is quite slippery out there, but like Sebastien says, the group is coming up. The notable thing is if you make a very small mistake and just when one foot wides on one corner, you suddenly drop off and it's very slippery and a very, very small mistake becomes quite a large one. Yeah, like Sebastien said, it makes it very interesting for the racing. It's all of those little mistakes turn into something quite large.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think this is one of most difficult racetracks to race because a small mistake, it puts like a little bit less than more -- we are expecting to go a little bit off-track, and then as Justin said, a small mistake becomes a big mistake. Then that makes the race really difficult for the drivers, and those mistakes that -- these are all for passing.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: There's also one thing that makes it like different from the other racetracks, because every corner is very slow, so you can follow the traffic that is in front of you easier than another racetrack. That's also why we've seen some passing last year. I went back to 13th or 14th place and I went back to 7th in like 20 laps, you know. You don't see that on any other racetrack. For sure, it's not that challenging as some others, but at least you have a good show, you know, and we all enjoy it.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I agree, it's a good racetrack for the race, because a lot of -- I remember, I think it was 2001, Kenny Brack passed someone for the lead, Cristiano, Michel or Cristiano, Michel and Cristiano. The guys are fighting for the lead of the race, and there was a lot of passing. I think it was very exciting, the race here in, 2001.
ERIC MAUK: This brings an end to our press conference.
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