Champ Car World Series: Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose
Topics: Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose
ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post race press conference from the inaugural Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose. A couple of quick notes before we get started. Today's attendance, 62,371, giving us a three-day total of 153,767. That total puts Champ Car's total attendance this season over the one million mark after just eight events. Right now I'm joined by our second place finisher, driver of the #3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Paul Tracy. He earns the 68th podium of his Champ Car career, his sixth of the season. Paul, interesting day out there. Tell us a little about how it went.
PAUL TRACY: Well, I mean, the start was a little bit strung out. My goal was to try to get by Oriol at the start. It was pretty much a single-file start. Really just had to sit in behind Oriol and try to save more fuel than him. Sebastien got away a little bit from Oriol. He was a little bit quicker than he was. Obviously, the first yellow came, which was actually surprising. It took quite a long time before we went yellow. Came in and my guys did a great stop, got me out ahead of Oriol. From there, we just kind of went to work on Sebastien, keeping the pressure on, trying to save more fuel than him. But we just kind of ran nose-to-tail there a long time and pulled away from Oriol. Second round of pit stops came. Our stops were identical. We came in and out the same. Really from there out, it was just -- there was really no way to get around him on the track. He made a very, very small mistake at the hairpin and locked up. There was really no way to get by. Really I just had to hope for a mistake or come home in second.
ERIC MAUK: Slight wall brush about halfway through in turn four. Did that cause you any problems at all?
PAUL TRACY: No. I just touched the wall a little bit. I was pretty lucky there. That's a place where it's very easy to hit the wall. It was very slippery off line. I just missed the entrance a little bit, turned in a little bit too early. I had to like jog out to miss hitting the inside wall. When I did that, I got off the line. The car just slid and touched the wall. It hit pretty flat on the wheel. Didn't catch it at an angle. Didn't tear at the wheel.
ERIC MAUK: Probably one of the trickiest tracks we run on from a grip standpoint. Tell us how the Bridgestones held up.
PAUL TRACY: They held up great. Really no problem. The runs were long and consistent. The tire wear was good. But, you know, it's a tricky track for sure. There's no room for error. It's narrow. Obviously, it's very slippery. You really had to concentrate on just being smooth. It really wasn't about how fast you could go; it was about just keeping it in between the wall.
ERIC MAUK: Your impressions of the inaugural event here?
PAUL TRACY: I think it was great. I think it was a great success for the city. The buzz in the city was great. Having it right here in the downtown is fantastic. I mean, most of the street courses that we've been to, whether it be Vancouver or Toronto, they were centered kind of around a park or roads that aren't used that often, not really in the downtown sector, in the business sector, in the entertainment district so to speak. The crowds that were here after everything was done, all you had to do was walk right outside the track, you could have something to eat. That's where everybody was staying basically, right on the premises. It was a great event, a great festival event. Obviously the track needs to make improvements. But the city is behind the event 110%. Those improvements will come.
ERIC MAUK: We are joined by our third-place finisher, earning his fourth consecutive podium finish, driver of the #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Oriol Servia. This is the 10th podium finish of his career. Oriol, thanks for joining us. Tell us a little bit about how it went for you today.
ORIOL SERVIA: It went well. Obviously, as close as we were yesterday to the pole, I had real hopes to get P1 in the race, especially after the performance in warm-up where the car felt so great. In a way I knew it was going to be a race of was going to win whoever made no mistakes. That was my approach. The first part of the race I think the three of us were just trying to save as much fuel as possible. But with the yellow coming, I don't think it made much difference. I think Paul short fueled more than we did, that's how he got me in the pits. The way the yellows came, he didn't need the fuel extra I put. So he finished second, I finished third. I think we had a very similar speed. Only the last five laps when I was really, really scared because something went loose in the rear of my car. I thought for sure was going to break. Each time I was going over the rails, I was praying it was just going to stay together because every lap was getting worse. Under braking, I would have to turn the wheel towards one side. I really thought Wilson was going to get me or just the car was going to break down. I don't really know what happened, but I'm just glad it stayed together enough to finish. Again, another podium feels great for the PacifiCare car to be up there. Looking really strong for the next race in Denver.
ERIC MAUK: Four consecutive podiums. You closed a little more on Justin Wilson in third in the point standings today. Tell us how you've been affected by the last three or four races.
ORIOL SERVIA: Yeah, I mean, I think we've been running very consistent. Since I am at the team, it's been five podiums in six races, so it's really good. Unfortunately, looks like all the championship contenders are on the podium every time. Today, as you said, we made a little bit of ground on Justin. But these two guys on my right are definitely going to be up there every single race, so we need to step it up a little, just a little bit more.
ERIC MAUK: The winner of the inaugural Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Sebastien earns his third victory of the season, the 13th of his career. Ties with him Tom Sneva for 17th on the all-time Champ Car list. He led 63 laps today, moving him into the top 25 on the all-time Champ Car list for laps led in a career. Sebastien, long day today. You were up front for most of it. Tell us how it felt.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it felt very good. I think I was in the preferred position; I just tried to stay there. Although a few guys out of sync definitely didn't make it easy because it was so difficult. I mean, we were saving fuel. Obviously, the guys who were out of sync were not. It was really difficult because if you were trying to pass the guy, you definitely had to pass him, and it felt really difficult. I also had PT behind me waiting to get the best advantage of the smallest mistakes I was going to make. So I just elected to try and be safe, keep saving fuel, and wait for my turn to take the lead back, and more importantly, not to make any mistakes. I think it was the key of the race, the key of the day. Very happy for the McDonald's crew. I think they did an awesome job. It was an extremely demanding course for the mechanical system. Just everything stayed together. That's just by itself a pretty big achievement. A lot of credit to these guys that they worked even later than the RuSPORT guys, which is always something apparently. My engineer was quite impressed yesterday night. It feels very good, and I'm just delighted that we seem to be able to get back on a pace closer to what we had last year.
ERIC MAUK: Talk about the last restart. You talk about saving fuel, but on that last restart, the last seven or eight green-flag laps, you reset the race's fastest lap twice in that span. Looked like you were getting on in the end.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, pretty much we stopped saving fuel the last 20 laps. Although I had Wirdheim in front of me until lap 71, it was a good thing for me to be able to put the fastest lap of the race. I knew the car was able to do it, and I felt pretty good. I said, you know what, just going to try and see how it goes. The team didn't tell me anything if I had it or not so I kept pushing and pushing and pushing. I guess I must have five or six best laps of the race. But it doesn't matter, I guess, as long as you don't make a mistake and stuff it somewhere.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Sebastien earned an extra championship point for posting the fastest lap of the event, and after eight events, the unofficial Champ Car point standings have Sebastien in the lead with 216, Paul Tracy is second with 188, Justin Wilson third with 175, Oriol Servia fourth with 160, AJ Allmendinger fifth with 126. Also Timo Glock is leading the rookie points in the chase for the Roshfrans Rookie-of-the-Year title, he has 109 points. Second in that race is Ronnie Bremer, 11 points behind despite the fact he did not start in Toronto. We'll go ahead and open it up to questions for the media.
Q. Paul, when Sebastien cut loose at the end, really went for it, could you see where on the track he was making up the time? Obviously .7 seconds is a hell of a gap.
PAUL TRACY: I pretty much resigned myself to the fact, unless something really happened, if he brushed the wall or something, there was really no way to get by. I pretty much was just chasing. We weren't at the same level in terms of time as they were all weekend. We were close. At the end of the race, I wasn't running the curbs like crazy and jumping over everything. I just wanted to get through the race to the end. Obviously, with all the attrition there was, there were a lot of cars that had problems. The last thing we want is to try to go for it at the end, sitting in second, have a mechanical failure. Really the opportunity, the small opportunity was when Sebastien made a small braking error. Really there was no way to get by.
Q. Oriol, what happened at the start? Was that a planned situation where you guys wound up coming through the first turn in the chicane single file?
ORIOL SERVIA: No, yesterday and today after the warm-up when we got together in the front row with the stewards, we decided we were going to go single file from eight to nine. They wanted to make sure we were not going to get the full pack of cars in the first chicane. They asked us to try to go quickly under power, so we tried to stretch out the field. That's what we did.
Q. Sebastien, what was the extent of the repairs to your car overnight? How much was done?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: They pretty much deassembled the car and rebuilt it, just the whole thing, the suspension, the engineer thought to change engine. Just pretty much everything. It was quite impressive, actually.
Q. Everything was okay in warm-up?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: No. We broke a piece of the suspension in the warm-up. But that wasn't a damaged piece that was on the car. It was a small problem we had. Couldn't really identify it. We fixed it between the warm-up and the race.
Q. Another road course here in California. How much does this track compare to Long Beach earlier in the year? I understand this is a lot bumpier. How do you feel right now? Got a lot of aches and pains?
ORIOL SERVIA: First thing I want to say, thumbs up for the fans here in San Jose. I mean, Long Beach, it's great, but they have 30 or 40 years of history, so it's easy. But here, for an inaugural race, it was very, very impressive. So for me that's the biggest difference. I have to say I was very impressed. Not only there was a lot of people, but was people knowing about racing. They would tell me, "Two races ago, what happened in Toronto or Edmonton." I was really impressed. I just had a great time. From the racetrack, for an inaugural race, it was good. I mean, we obviously hope that the mayor was very excited. As I said yesterday, it's going to give us a little more city blocks for next year and we're going to have an awesome racetrack.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You always tend to underestimate at first what these cars need. When you look at the street, it really doesn't look that bumpy. But when you're doing 175 miles an hour down the straightaway, all of a sudden it becomes a different affair. You know, I guess it would be really convenient if we didn't have to cross these rails. But, you know, it was a premiere. I think we still made it work. Obviously, if next year we could avoid that, it would be pretty good because we left quite a bit of cars on the road. We only have nine cars at the end. I think it was still quite a race. I hope the fans loved it. That's all I can say. Was a great venue. Very impressive for a first one.
PAUL TRACY: Yeah, just the same as what these guys say. I mean, there's a few journalists here in this room, us sitting up here, none of us were here, a couple of these guys weren't born the first Long Beach. But from what I understand, there are a few journalists that were there that are in the room right now and it was nothing to write home about by any means. It takes time to get these events up and organized and get it running smoothly. They've hired the right people to do it. They've hired people that have done this before. But you're dealing with a city that's never done it before and you're dealing with workers who prepared the track and put the walls up and put the fences up, cut the timelines that have never done this stuff before. As a first event, we got through it. We had to make some changes. They had to work all night every night to do this event. It will be better next year.
Q. Paul, even so, there was only one pass for position among the leaders the whole race, and you did it in the pits. What can they do improve the track so there will be more passing opportunities?
PAUL TRACY: Obviously, they've got to look at the city blocks, what the mayor is willing to make available for next year, then redesign the track. Some parts of the track are quite fun to drive. If they just add a little bit more to the track, maybe another half a mile to it, quarter mile, give us another straightaway with a braking zone, then there will be opportunity.
Q. I know when we first went to Denver, it wasn't the best racetrack, but then they widened sections of it. Seems to be a pretty good track now. Is that what the city could possibly do here to enhance passing, do you need a wider street?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I guess the main concern is obviously for the reliability of the car. The rail system, it's obviously not really appropriate for the cars. You know what? The thing is, if we have to come back and do it again, I think they can probably work with the management of this tramway and try and close it for a few days so we can fill it and have a nice asphalt over there. That would fix itself. As Oriol said, I think the mayor was all pumped up about the event. He didn't expect this to even be that big. He said, "Anything you want next year." I guess it's going to be a lot of fun.
Q. For all three, somebody said it looked like a supercross event. A brief description of what it felt like in the cockpit going through there.
ORIOL SERVIA: I have to say I've been driving motorcycles since I am two and a half, and I've never screamed like I was screaming on Friday. I can promise you that (laughter). But they've worked on it. Again, I didn't scream once today in the race, apart from when Paul got me in the pits, which had nothing to do with the rails.
PAUL TRACY: Yeah, for sure it was bumpy. In terms of from the physical side of the track, it wasn't that physically demanding to drive. It was just rough. We put some pads in the car, put some rubber on the sides of the cockpit to stop me from banging my elbows and things like that on the sides of the tub.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: That's what you did, you put the cusion under your ass (laughter)?
PAUL TRACY: You know, sure it's bumpy, but wasn't too bad.
ERIC MAUK: Thank you very much.
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