Indy Racing League Media Conference
Topics: Indy Racing League
August 26, 2009
THE MODERATOR: And we've now been joined by our second guest, Robert Dornbos of HVM Racing. Robert, how is it going today?
ROBERT DORNBOS: Not bad. Thank you for having me. I'm in Indy at the moment hanging out with the team and adjusting my new seat.
THE MODERATOR: Robert began the season with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing and moved to HVM Racing this month. Scored his first top 10 finish with HVM Racing at Infineon Raceway. Robert, how has that transition back to HVM been?
ROBERT DORNBOS: It's great to be back with HVM. We had a lot of success together in 2007. That was in the gem car days and fighting for the championship and winning races.
And obviously now in IndyCar things are a little bit different. It's extremely competitive out there and we know we don't have the fastest car yet. And we are working on that trying to get more sponsors and more money to develop the car. But it's good. It feels like coming home.
And for some reason it just didn't work out at Newman Haas. I put that behind me. I want to thank them for what they did for me at the start of the season. But it was just a very disappointing year.
So I thought I would change my fortunes and move to HVM and also here to look for the future, for 2010 I'll be staying here.
Q. You have a teammate at HVM, E.J. Viso, who has had some bad luck of his own this year. Do you think running with a teammate is more beneficial than being a single car team?
ROBERT DORNBOS: I think for EJ it's definitely helped that I'm here. Single car team, it's very hard to find the limits and setup and performance of the car.
So I proved straightaway when I came in what the car was capable and that we still have a lot of work to do to develop it and make it go faster. But we get along well. E.J. is a nice guy and it's the second year now with the team and he's trying to get some results in like everybody else.
Q. You showed you were very quick on ovals earlier this season. As we said you've moved to a new team. Can you bring what you've learned at Newman/Haas to HVM and help elevate that to ovals?
ROBERT DORNBOS: I think so. Like the oval, I did with Kansas and qualified on the front row and I was leading for a while. So it was a lot of fun.
And Indy we were quite competitive and it's a different view of oval racing. It's very hard to set up the car still, completely different than what I learned over the years in Europe and Formula One. On the ovals, it's all asymmetric stuff.
I get good coaching from Arie Luynedyk. And he's involved and tries to speed up the learning process. And other than that we're just going to go for it this weekend in Chicago. It's another new oval for me like Motegi and Miami but I think we can be competitive in the mid-field with some luck get a great result.
Q. You mentioned you work with Arie Luynedyk who won two Indy 500s, was very good on ovals. What's the best piece of advice that he's given to you about racing on ovals?
ROBERT DORNBOS: I thought you wanted to say best piece of advice about social life. But on ovals, he would say just the trick for any rookie: If you go into the light maybe you have more experience on what it's all about.
Racing on ovals straightaway with these guys who have done it for years, it was a bit of acclimatation period and it's good advice, just different lines and what to do in different circumstances and lots to take in at once, but at least we can talk the same language and I can learn fast.
Q. You were in a pretty tight rookie of the year battle with Rafael Matos with the three races on the ovals remaining and experience with Indy. Does it feel like you can catch him and win rookie of the year?
ROBERT DORNBOS: It would be great. He would obviously love to win it for his team and I would love to win it just to give some sort of highlight to my season.
It's been a very tough year for me on and off the track. And you feel like you deserve it. But we have to work hard for it and we'll see where we get.
If his car is very competitive, it's going to be harder to close the gap because on the ovals you are limited to what the car's capable of. Just have to wait and see how good we are going to be and the race is all a different deal. You need some luck at the right time as well.
Q. At Kentucky, the last oval race, we saw a guy from a smaller team, Ed Carpentier, compete with the Penskes and Ganassis. Does that give you some hope with the changes made to the car, that a team like HVM can run up front and battle for podiums and wins?
ROBERT DORNBOS: This gave me a lot of hope. It was really cool to see that it happened so well and of course his whole life he's been racing on ovals basically.
So that's why his experience is, he's on the road and street courses. He doesn't have as much experience as a European driver, for example.
But look very good, looked like the new rules suited some teams better than others. Hopefully HVM has the same situation. Team wise we're about the same size. And we'll be great if we can jam up to the front. I look forward to that.
Q. You list your home as Monaco. So basically this whole season has been a pretty long road trip for you. You mentioned --
ROBERT DORNBOS: Unbelievable.
Q. You mentioned you're in Indy. This weekend race is in Chicago. And I saw you're going to Monaco and Amsterdam and Tokyo and Miami. Headed anywhere else in between?
ROBERT DORNBOS: Yeah, I need to keep my fans updated on Twitter. But the whole year, I did underestimate a little bit the schedule IndyCar, going back to '07 when I was at Jem car, two contracts to fulfill racing at Gem car and do testing in F-One.
So I flew a lot back to Europe. And this year I thought I was going to do the same. But I had no time to do that. I've been spending time in the U.S. since March. I left my house in March.
It would be good if I could spend some time back in Monaco. It hasn't been empty. My apartment, my sister and friends love to use it over the summer. I made some people happy. I need to go back home and catch up on some stuff and hopefully next year make my base in the U.S.
Q. How do you deal with traveling so much? I know it's part of the lifestyle. But how do you deal with living out of a suitcase so much?
ROBERT DORNBOS: Well, this was sort of extreme, speaking to other drivers as well. They were like, man, are you already, since March you're just traveling in U.S., sleeping in hotels. And I did go on a little holiday to Aruba.
But still it's every night in the hotel. Every night out to dinner and you do miss a little bit some sort of days and I think it's quite important and have that for next year.
For this year, okay, I was just orientating myself where to live. A lot of drivers tell me in Miami. A lot of drivers tell me maybe in Denver, it's beautiful up there. It's hard to know.
I already lived in Arizona, Scottsdale. I have to make a decision for next year. But I love being in the states. But I do like to have a home. I know all the hotels by now. I got cards for every hotel. They treat me very well but it's good to have your own little place.
THE MODERATOR: Best of luck.
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