Champ Car World Series: Gran Premio Telmex-Tecate presented by Banamex
Topics: Gran Premio Telmex-Tecate
ERIC MAUK: Ladies and Gentlemen, we will go ahead now and start our post qualifying press conference for tomorrow's Gran Premio Telmex-Tecate presented by Banamex, Round 14, and the season finale of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We are joined by our top three starters in tomorrow's event, starting with the third-place qualifier, driver of the #34 Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, Justin Wilson. Justin puts up the third best time of the day with a fast lap of 1:27.016 seconds, 115.262 miles per hour. This is Justin's best start since he started second in Cleveland back in July. Justin, you've been fast all weekend. You come in here, put it third on the grid for tomorrow. How do you feel about the way it went?
JUSTIN WILSON: I'm pretty happy. We've been making progress all weekend, then in the warm-up session before qualifying, we were a long way off, and getting a bit concerned that we changed the setup only very slight but lost our way. Fortunately, we changed it back. The car worked again and we were able to go out and set a time. Very pleased that the Mi-Jack Conquest team has done a fantastic job all weekend. We just keep playing it nice and cool and (inaudible) set for the time. We're very happy to be here.
ERIC MAUK: This is your first weekend of racing here at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. What are your impressions of this racetrack?
JUSTIN WILSON: I like it. I love the layout. I think it's a fantastic circuit. It's a shame that it's bumpy. But there's nothing that can be done about that, obviously. It makes it very challenging to drive. You know, it keeps you on your toes. There's a couple of times when you think you're well under the limit, you hit a bump, and all of a sudden you light up the tires. You have to be careful. There's plenty of room for error. The race could be very interesting.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Our second place qualifier, he'll start on the outside of the front row, driver of the #6 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Bruno Junqueira. Bruno puts up the second best lap of the day with a time of 1:26.545 seconds, 115.889 miles per hour. His fourth front row start of the year. Bruno, tell us a little bit about your day.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: It was a good day. I think the PacifiCare car was okay, was not the best, but I think was a good car, able to go second. We run very well on the hard tires. We wait until like between six and five minutes to go on the (inaudible) Bridgestone, you could go like a second faster. But I think there are so many traffic on the track, the team couldn't find the gap. When they actually find it, it was like four minutes to go, so I didn't have time to do two laps. The tires were not up to temp, especially because I got traffic open the warm-up lap. The tires were not up to temp. I don't think I bring the best of the PacifiCare car. Although I think I could run 26.1, 26.0, I don't think I could beat Sebastien, but I could be for sure very close of him. The car had a little bit too much understeer. But was good. Both Newman/Haas cars are 1 and 2, much faster than anybody. Looks like this year we find a good setup and I hope we can have a good race. It's a long race tomorrow. The championship on the line. A lot of things can happen. I'm confident that I'm going to have a really good car.
ERIC MAUK: The polesitter for the Gran Premio Telmex-Tecate presented by Banamex is the driver of the #2 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais, the Champ Car World Series points leader. He sets a new track record here at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez with a fast lap of 1:25.919 seconds, 116.733 miles per hour. He breaks the track record held by Bruno Junqueira, his eighth pole of the year, the 13th of the year, he becomes the sixth driver in the Champ Car modern era, from 1979 to the present, to earn as many as eight poles in the season. He widens his points lead back to 22 over Bruno Junqueira. Sebastien, came out here and did what you had to do today. How do you feel?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I feel good, but I know there's still a long way to go. The hardest part of the season is in front of us and there's definitely going to be braking going into turn one tomorrow on the first lap. I'm just really, really happy for the boys because they really did, the level of performance we've been showing that, again, this weekend it's not about how fast we can go, it's about how tough we are, how we can stay on the racetrack and keep (inaudible) and have no mechanical issues. So just we'll see tomorrow, but definitely two very good runs, and today with an alternate set of tires that Bridgestone has been bringing, and I'm very happy with the car.
ERIC MAUK: Are you surprised that you were able to come out here and run this fast? 1:25.9, that's awful quick, especially coming into this weekend.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, I didn't think I was going to break the record 1:26. But when you feel good and you know that your teammate is fast, you know, you got to push hard. It's a tough fight between Bruno and us, and every point counts double now. He took the point yesterday, and I had to take it today to try and make sure that, you know, we were keeping the lead as big as we could.
ERIC MAUK: Heading into tomorrow, 80% of the story is going to be what happens in that first corner. How do you approach that first turn tomorrow?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You know, approach it on the right white line, you know, give no chance to anybody to sneak in, and hopefully it's not going to be a pack up behind me, because that's the real scary moment of the race right there. If anybody locks up the brakes and runs into the back of the McDonald's car, it's over. So hopefully everybody's going to keep in mind that we've got a very, very important fight between Bruno and us. You know, I hope I've been showing that I deserve it, but in motor racing, it doesn't matter.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow. We'll now take questions from the media.
Q. Sebastien, a couple of days ago, you said the safest place to run is the pole. Now you have it. How do you think your teamwork is for that situation, for tomorrow?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, you know, I'm glad we're on wood, but we've had no mechanical problems so far. They've been doing an incredible job all season, both the Newman/Haas Racing team on the PacifiCare side and the McDonald's side. The reliability is there, but it's a tough course here for the car, so it's definitely going to be a factor. I hope it won't, you know, play against us. But really they won't change anything. They're for sure going to have a particular attention on the car, and it might not feel very well, but we'll see tomorrow.
Q. Sebastien, right now it's a very important moment for the track, for Mexico, because you just break the record of the track. You've been very fast these few days. You've been the best in the track. You were with Bruno the two pilots that were the less time in the track than the other pilots. You were just checking their times, went out and just break the record of the track in a very small time. When you were driving today, did you feel you could break this record? If you did, how does it feel? How does it feel that you break the record of the track?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think that's a very long question. No, realistically we've had a very good car straight out of the truck. We knew it was not going to be easy, but we kept working and improve the car. Basically when the balance is right there with you, you don't really need to stand around and wear out your tires, so that's a very good thing. The Bridgestone tires are coming up, you know, to speed very fast here. I don't know why. Maybe because it's hard on it, it grips very well. You don't really need to do five or six laps as some other tracks like Monterrey, Mexico. Sometimes it takes a while to put on the best lap. But here it's not the case. If you time it right, it might be the first lap that could be the fastest. So I don't know. It's just a characteristic of the car. Hopefully also we're going to be able to show that tomorrow.
Q. Justin and Bruno, for tomorrow, do you have a special strategy? Do you attack at the beginning or you have a conservative race?
JUSTIN WILSON: Well, obviously, we want to try to make a good start. Personally I hope that the three of us on our own going into the first corner, we get a good jump on everyone else and we don't have to watch the mirrors too much. I'm very comfortable racing with Sebastien and Bruno. You know, we've done it in the past. We give each other room when we need to give each other room. You know, from my side, I want to get through. I'd ultimately like to win the race, but we'll see tomorrow if we've got the pace to do that. Otherwise, I want to just finish right there pushing them as much as possible.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I didn't talk about strategy after with my engineers, but we know we have to try to win the race, and that's what we're going to try to do. If I need to go as fast as I can or stay still, I don't know how the race will play out. Probably have to stay still early on and then push hard in the end. I don't know how it's going to play out yet.
Q. Here at this racetrack, because of the altitude, the downforce is reduced by almost a third, makes it much more important for the mechanical aspects of the car. Does that mean that driver skill is more important at this track than at most tracks we run?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't know. I think it's a combination of, you know, the car, the driver and the team, how the car is prepared. Obviously, this year we've been able to put it together. You know, there's no doubt in my mind that without the collaboration with Bruno, we wouldn't have been so strong. You know, it's a huge help to be able to work together. As we said many times, it's an open book and everybody can watch the data. For sure, it's pushing up the team. I'm just really glad that we're fighting it between each other. We don't really see that very often, 1 and 2 in the championship for a team, that kind of category where pretty much everybody has the same stuff.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think this track is very difficult and bring a lot from the driver. But I think one of the good things about this year is that the Bridgestone came up for this race with a much better tire. They have been able to run, I don't know, three seconds faster than last year. And when you run faster, I think the car -- I think when you run faster, you need a better driver. The driver makes the bigger difference. And I think the opposite, I think more downforce is more G Force. On a road course like here, especially on the fast S's, if you put a lot of downforce and a lot of grip, you need to really have a really good driver to be precise on that corner because is going to be more time -- the corner's going to be faster. When you don't have much grip, the car is light so much, so you don't need to be as precise. I think the opposite about the downforce. But I think this is a very challenging track for the driver, especially with the Bridgestone tires.
JUSTIN WILSON: I think it puts a lot of emphasis on the mechanical side of the setup. We're down to only two-thirds of our downforce. If that's gone, your mechanical setup has to work much faster. You don't have the downforce pushing the car back onto the track after you've gone over the bumps, so it doesn't recover as quickly, and there's more time for it to go wrong. That's what we've worked on all weekend, is trying to get a good mechanical setup. The aero I think we've got a reasonable understanding of. But trying to get the car so it lands still pointing in the right direction has been quite a challenge. That's where we've picked up the most time.
Q. About the tires. From the earlier experience in the season, what happened today, do you have any idea how long the new soft tires are going to be affected? How many laps can you go with those? Do they have any effect on fuel? If the tires are that much faster, the times aren't that much faster than in earlier years, does that mean that the track is getting slower?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I think the soft Bridgestones, they are soft, but they are just a better tire overall. I think they're just going to run faster throughout the stint when you run those. For sure the fuel mileage on those going to be a little bit worse because you going to go a little bit faster. But the difference is very small because on those tires you can carry more speed to the corners, so you can maybe even have a better mileage, I don't know. But one thing, the last question that I want to say, as well, I think me and Sebastien, we done a very good job, the Newman/Haas team, because last year we were kind of struggling here. I start second or third. Sebastien, I don't know, fourth. But we were in the middle of the pack, very close with everybody. And this year we did a big step forward. I think that's to the team, working together me and Sebastien.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I think I agree with Bruno. Every time we've had an alternate tire that Bridgestone has been bringing, it's not only been faster, but it's also been, you know, more durable. You know, it's a shame we just have two sets of these because we don't have to put a single set at some point. But we see how it goes tomorrow. Really, a lot of things that we don't really know because we didn't came really, you know, often here. It's only the third time. And the lap times are so much faster that we kind of losing our references right there. You know, we're going to be able to check this out tomorrow, but not with the alternate tires, because we definitely want to keep those for the race.
Q. How important is it for you that last year you were the Rookie-of-the-Year, and tomorrow you could be the champion?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I think that, you know, not only an achievement for me but for the whole team, and two years of work. So it's definitely very important professional championship in my career. That's a huge achievement. You know, I just really don't want to think or talk about it because, as I said already, we're so close but so far because there's still 60 something laps in front of us. We'll see how it goes.
ERIC MAUK: All right. Thank you, Ladies and Gentlemen.
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