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Champ Car World Series: Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton

Champ Car World Series: Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton

Sebastien Bourdais
Simon Pagenaud
Will Power
Graham Rahal
Justin Wilson
July 22, 2007


EDMONTON, ALBERTA

THE MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone. Welcome to our press conference following the Rexall Grand Prix of Edmonton. We're going to start today with our Canadian Triple Crown winners, the Team Australia duo of Will Power and Simon Pagenaud.
Simon, you went out there, your highest finish was third, but never finished worse than fourth here in the Triple Crown. How was it to run here in Canada?
SIMON PAGENAUD: Obviously, Canada is a great country. I really love coming here. They have great racetracks, especially Edmonton. But it's a torture, let me tell you (laughter). No, it's very fun to come over here. Again, we had a very good attendance. It was really crowded. It's very enjoyable for us driver. I want to thanks all the fans for that.
The Triple Crown is a great thing because it involve a little bit more the Canadian fan, and I think that's a great move from Champ Car. I've been thinking about it's such a good championship and I'm also glad to be able to win this championship with Will. We have been so far the strongest combination since the beginning of the year, and it's great. You know, we are working together. I just want to say thanks to Craig Gore and Derrick Walker. The Aussie Vineyards team has been so, so strong since a couple of races.
THE MODERATOR: Will, today just wasn't your day. At both Mont-Tremblant and Toronto races you had podium finishes which allowed Team Australia to have a big enough lead to be able to survive something like what happened today.
WILL POWER: Yeah, I mean, up until this point, Canada has been very friendly to us. Yeah, it's a great country. All the tracks are awesome and the fans are very enthusiastic. Massive crowds. You know, so it's a very good thing that Champ Car's done, to have this championship. Makes it a lot more interesting for everyone.
But, yeah, you know, it's a bittersweet day for me especially because I've obviously lost a lot of points to Sebastien. You know, I had a major part break in the steering. So in a way it was lucky I pulled in because now looking at it, it could have been a massive accident.
But, yeah, very happy to win the Triple Crown. Simon has been extremely consistent. Up until this point so have I. So it's very good for Team Australia.
THE MODERATOR: Now we'll open it up to questions from the media.

Q. Could you explain how your car behaved?
WILL POWER: It was just right-handed, the steering would lock, and it would get stuck there. It just became too dangerous. Now seeing the part that they pulled, the bits, it was -- I was lucky the steering just didn't break and have a massive accident. So it was good that we stopped really because it could have been much worse and someone could have got hurt.
So, yeah, very unfortunate. You know, it's an unusual thing to break really, so we're not really sure what happened there.

Q. Did you feel it in a particular curb or a heavy jolt?
WILL POWER: It might have been yesterday in qualifying - maybe, you know. But it's hard to say. Just looking at the part that broke, it's not as strong as it probably should be. Now I'm just seeing that it's actually hollow.
But, you know, it's hard to say. We don't know why it cracked. You know, obviously we're going to look into it a bit deeper. But, you know, I think all the teams should check that part, it should be let known what it is and how it cracked and everything because it could cause a pretty big accident. Losing your steering at this speeds is, you know, something bad could happen.

Q. (No microphone.)
WILL POWER: Yeah, you know, it's given Sebastien a real comfort zone, and he works very well when he's comfortable like that. He's got, you know, a 30-point gap now or something like that, which is almost a whole race win. It makes it tougher on us.
But, you know, you can just see anything can happen in these races. He just has to have one DNF and we have to have a good weekend and it's all back together again. Really it closes up the fight for second place at the moment. It's pretty tight there. I think it goes all the way back to fifth place or something.
So, yeah, just have to say it was a disappointing weekend. Had to pull right out of the race because it's not like a DNF like Sebastien had last week where only eight cars finished, it's everyone basically finished, bar two, so we lose a lot of points in that.

Q. (No microphone.)
WILL POWER: Yeah, pretty much after the pit stop. I came out of the pits and suddenly lost seven seconds to Rahal. It started binding up then. You know, it just became so dangerous. I went into 13 when Simon was behind me, and he thought I was going to hit the wall. I thought, too. I just could not turn the steering wheel. It just absolutely locked up.
So, you know, I had no choice.

Q. (No microphone.)
WILL POWER: That was, yeah -- I went on red tires and actually the rear tires went off a little bit. We sort of misjudged that. We should have gone a lap longer, as well, but we had cars coming out in front of us. Yeah, it got a little loose struggling with the car. I'm not sure whether the steering -- you know, I mean, yeah, it was -- I'm not sure whether the steering had anything to do with that.

Q. (No microphone.)
SIMON PAGENAUD: No. I just saw that Will had a problem because he honestly went straight in turn 13, which is almost flat. I don't know the speed over there, but it's like more than 150 I think, miles per hour, and I saw him going straight. I'm like, Oh, what's happening? I saw he didn't do a mistake. So, yeah, I knew that he had a problem on the car, but I didn't think about it. I just, you know, carry on.

Q. What happened on the start?
WILL POWER: It was the paint. I said it all along. They wouldn't let me look at the grid before I made the choice. I went out and had a look this morning. I just said, Good chance we're going to lose the start.
In a funny way, it was bad to be on pole position, but we got a point for it. So next year they need to look at that because what's the use of getting pole if you know you're going to lose it because of the position of the grid?

Q. Sebastien took the outside line. Was that a consideration?
WILL POWER: Yeah, they wouldn't allow me to look at it. I asked in the meeting, Can I have a look? They said, No, make the choice now. I said, The obvious choice is the inside. That's it. That was the choice. Can't do anything about it.

Q. (No microphone.)
SIMON PAGENAUD: Yeah, I mean, especially in qualifying, I feel very confident with the new tires, reds or blacks. It's always very -- pretty good for me in qualifying. I'm working really well with Mike Pawlowski, my engineer. He's a very good listener, so we get the car right very often. Unfortunately yesterday we didn't have a clear run, we were not able to put a decent lap.
But, you know, I mean, overall, when you look at qualifying, it was really good. And the race, at the end, all the results was very consistent. We just need to do a little bit better now to get a podium.
But, you know, as I said last year, I mean, how did I won the championship? I just have been so consistent. You know, championship is made in a way that if you finish consistently in the top five, you have a good chance for the championship. But, of course, it's better to win and I want to win. So I will try my best. But at the moment I still need to find a little bit more speed and a little bit better fuel mileage.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you, guys. Congratulations on winning the first Champ Car Canadian Triple Crown.
We have the top two finishers from the Grand Prix of Edmonton. We'll start with Justin Wilson, who earned his third podium of the season and his fifth top-five finish in the last five races.
Justin, you're slowly making your way up in the points. Right now you're nine points out of second. What did a good run mean to you today?
JUSTIN WILSON: Obviously it means a lot to close up on the championship. Unfortunately I think Sebastien's pulled away from me slightly. But generally speaking, like you say, moved up on second is good. Just pleased to get a good run in.
I felt it was a strong track for everyone on the RSPORTS team. You know, it showed again this year that we know what it takes to go quick around here.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Justin.
We have Sebastien Bourdais, who earned his 27th career win, which moves him 20 points ahead of Robert Doornbos, who is second in the championship points standings.
Sebastien, where it looked like you made up the most ground was there under the green flag pit stops. Looks like the McDonald's team gave you a good pit stop and you had a really good last two laps.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, it was a fun race. It was tough, as usual. It's a place, like I said, it beats you up, drags you down to your knees, but when you can pull it off, it feels really good. I think everybody was tired towards the end. The car gets really tough to drive. But the McDonald's car was fast, and that's really all that matters. And we pulled it off.
You know, I really thought we had lost the win when that incident happened in the pits on the first stop, Katherine was just coming into the pits. We were ready to leave. We lost probably three seconds or something like that, and that was enough to go back down to third place.
You know, I think the team -- the team had a pretty good idea that we were actually going to make it quite a bit further on fuel than the rest of the guys. They were confident, and they told me, you know, Just keep plugging away, it's not over. And it worked out.
You know, we went two laps further than Will and one lap further than Justin, and that was all we needed really. I was really, really happy that we could do that. It was a good performance on the whole team. And then after that they did an awesome job on green or yellow pit stop, they pulled it off, you know, and they made it stick. That's what it's really all about, you know. I mean, this series, you win as a team and you lose as a team. But today was a great weekend again for us.
THE MODERATOR: And also joining us third-place finisher Graham Rahal, who earned his second career podium finish.
Graham, this weekend has to be classified as your best weekend to date so far in Champ Car.
GRAHAM RAHAL: Yeah, I mean, definitely, it's been a solid weekend for the whole MediZone team. The race today was another good performance. Thought I had a good start, but then when I got alongside Justin, realized that Neel was inside of him. So then, you know, kind of the first half of the race was chasing them around. And then pretty much we just saved as much fuel as possible, kind of played into our hands.
Actually lost radio contact at the pits at the end of the first stint, so that made it difficult for me because, you know, obviously being a rookie, never having been in a situation like this before, you know, it put a lot of emphasis on watching the pit board and stuff, things I've never really done before.
And then, you know, at the same time during the second stint, we were extremely quick. We saved a lot of fuel at the beginning. But once we decided to go, we caught right up to the leaders.
As Sebastien said, I mean, we definitely went a bit further on fuel than both Will and Justin. And then, you know, we got out in front of Will and basically just kind of plugged away. Thought we had a good enough car to get by Justin, but at the end there just couldn't quite hang in.
Still it's a good result to be in third. I'm pretty happy to be here.
THE MODERATOR: Thanks, Graham.
We'll open it up to questions.

Q. Sebastien, you're in a little more comfortable position as far as the championship is concerned, about 20 points. How does that feel?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I mean, obviously it's a lot better to be chased than to chase people in the championship. So, you know, we're in a better position. But it's far from being over. You know, it's not a race advantage. There's still a lot of races in front of us. It feels very good. We could just once again bounce back from a weekend that was going to be ours again in Toronto, but for different reasons didn't. Then we end up coming back here and winning, so it's in a pretty good fashion.
Very happy for the guys and very happy for the whole McDonald's team. I think, you know, now we hopefully going to be a stretch where we gonna keep on trying to lay down some good results, and that's all we need to do now, just finish the races and take the wins when it's ours and just finish when we can't win, I guess.
It would be good to be a little more consistent, and that's what we're going to try and just do that.

Q. (No microphone.)
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It was no race.
JUSTIN WILSON: I think what would be really good is if they could somehow give you the information that we have, which is our fuel strategy. So we're playing quite an interesting game inside the car and on the timing stand of how to win this race. Unfortunately, that doesn't come across to outside of the team.
But, you know, we're trying to guess at what everyone else is doing on mileage, trying to either keep up or go a lap further doing the same pace. There's a whole game going on there that you don't really see.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I guess, you know, we tried and worked this steering wheel as hard as we could. I'm telling you, towards the end, there was no fuel saving any more. I guess the last two stints, it was nothing, it was all out. But it doesn't make it much easier to pass really.
I think it definitely is a place that the quicker you go, the harder it gets to pass. You know, turn nine this year has been I think even worse than it was in the past because now it's faster but it's still not flat, so basically you just can't hang on behind a guy and you can't get a run for turn 10. It's pretty tricky, you know. When I was behind both Will and Justin, Will was struggling obviously, and we were behind traffic. So we were all trying to save fuel still to, you know, keep the target because otherwise you miss and you just lose all the advantage you've been trying to build the whole stint.
So I guess you can only determine who's the quickest on the track at that point by knowing at equal pace who is going the furthest on fuel. That's pretty much what says who's got what. And after that, usually after the first stint, it kind of gets going. But this time it wasn't because there was another target to try and hang out and stay with him and good further.
It's tough. It's really tough. But I don't think there is much we can do about that unless we get tire warmers and everybody goes as fast going out of the pits as the guys who are at the end of their stint. It's not going to be possible to let it all out.
GRAHAM RAHAL: I think they said it all. I mean, but, I think, you know, something for me at least, once you -- fuel saving for me is something different than what I've ever done before. And I think that I find at times, once you get into a fuel-saving rhythm, for me I think -- for some people they would say it's easier to make mistakes, but for me, you know, the pace at which you're at, it's nowhere near as difficult as if you're pushing all out.
Now, I think, for instance, if there was no fuel saving, and you were just pushing as hard as you could at all times, more mistakes would happen, because certainly at the end, as Sebastien was saying, I mean, I was pushing as hard as I could, and Justin and I are both sliding around. It's miraculous that neither of us made a mistake.
But that's how it works. But at the end of the day, I think if every stint was like that, there would be more issues.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, you know, I didn't make the best of starts. As we got going, I got a little bit of wheel spin. Saw Graham come up on the left, and said okay. I think Neel Jani came up on the right. The gap started to close. At that point I was just hoping that Graham realized that we were three-wide and I had nowhere to go. It was to the point where I couldn't even back off because we were that close. If I backed off, it would have got messy as well.
Fortunately Graham did the right thing and showed a lot of maturity and we had to let Neel go by on the inside.

Q. (No microphone.)
JUSTIN WILSON: I was pretty busy with my own situation. I didn't see Sebastien's move (laughter).
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I didn't see. All I heard was Will just spinning the wheels like crazy, and then that was that. Just went by. Yeah, that sound felt really good, I have to say (laughter).

Q. (No microphone.)
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I don't know. I mean, I think there were some concerns about the paint obviously. I don't know if it's the whole story or just plain tried too hard and got too much wheel spin as a consequence. Whether it's the paint or something else, I don't know.
JUSTIN WILSON: I think from where I was, I was behind Will, and we both got a little bit too much wheel spin. Right at the point where we're trying to sort that out and manage the wheel spin, we hit the paint. The paint on this track is very slippy. It's not like on a normal race circuit, they use a special paint that you don't slide on. But every time we went over the paint as we were going around a lap, the car slides. It definitely started spinning the wheels again in a big fashion.

Q. (No microphone.)
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I mean, basically Craig went on the radio and told me with had it by half a second. I was kind of cruising around for about, I don't know, eight, ten laps. And then I saw Justin kind of coming back a bit. So I was like, well, you know, if he pulls a flyer at the end, it would be too bad to lose it. So I did another couple of laps pushing, used the 'push to pass' on one, and did a little extra effort.
But I didn't want to push it too hard either because it's towards the end of the race, the car was getting a little hard to drive with the rubber, and the track is, you know, very tough to read because it's very grippy, but as soon as you put one wheel off the line, you just start sliding all over. My hands were (indiscernible) a bit, so I didn't want to lose the steering wheel and make a big mistake. It's one of these compromises where you want to get the point but you don't want to risk it all and lose the win.

Q. Sebastien, did you practice driving around the outside thinking that would be the way to get by him?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No, no. It's always a possibility. It's pretty wide out there for turn one. I guess you don't want to have someone, you know, trying to pull a move on you from the inside. It's still the preferred line, you know, if you have to make a move. But the truth is, when you have someone getting a better start and jumping you, there's not much you can do. The guy who carries more momentum, you can't really -- if you risk it, all you're going to do is you're going to run into him.
No, I think it was pretty clear for me that I would have picked left on the start. I mean, we definitely look at that every race now because of the Cleveland situation. But I think it's also up to Race Control to kind of pay a little closer attention to where they draw the grid because obviously, you know, it's affecting the outcome of the start, so that's a little bit of a shame.
I'm not saying they should penalize the guy on second place, but it would be good to try and have equal chances for everybody on the racetrack.
THE MODERATOR: We thank you all for your coverage.



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