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 qualifying press conference. We'll have the top three qualifiers for tomorrow's inaugural Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose, Round 8 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. Right now we are joined by two of our top three qualifiers, but before we get starred, I'd like to have the presentation of this week's Bridgestone Pole Award, which goes to the driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. (Presentation made.) Joe, while I've got you here, tell us about what you have had to go through this weekend? A very tricky course for Bridgestone, I'd have to imagine.
JOE BARBIERI: Absolutely. Without being able to test here, the engineers had to go back on their data that they've obtained over the 11 years we've been now active in open-wheel racing. I think they made a pretty good choice. Anxious to hear from the drivers. The softer compound we came up with seemed to be holding up well even here. We look forward to a real good race tomorrow.
ERIC MAUK: Thank you. We'll now talk to our third place qualifier on of the day. He puts up a lap of 54.570 seconds, 95.525 miles per hour, driver of the #3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Paul Tracy. Paul Tracy has started in the top five in each of the season's eight races. Paul, tell us a little bit about how it went for you.
PAUL TRACY: I mean, it was just very difficult. Obviously, trying to get a clear lap is everything. I didn't get any help out there from Oriol. I got held up four times by him, so that was pretty frustrating. We had good laps on every one, and from there it was just -- you know, the best laps I had were the ones I was held up, so it's frustrating.
ERIC MAUK: You've been around this course now for a couple of days, put a good number of laps in. What do you feel is the most important part of this racetrack?
PAUL TRACY: Well, obviously probably qualifying is the most important thing, qualifying here. It's going to be so difficult to pass because it's so narrow and so tight. The only passing possibility you had was at the hairpin, and they've taken that away now. So really it put qualifying at a premium. We're just going to have to play the game tomorrow and hopefully have better pit stops.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow. Our second place starter, he'll start on the outside of the front row, his best Champ Car starting spot since he started on the outside of the front row in Denver in 2003, driver of the #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Oriol Servia. Oriol puts up a lap of 54.305 seconds, 95.991 miles per hour, as part of a 1, 2, Newman/Haas Racing qualifying sweep today. Oriol, tell us about your run.
ORIOL SERVIA: Actually, I'm quite happy for the team. Obviously, 1, 2, like last weekend, it's showing how strong the team is. It's a great race for me because it's a very important market for PacifiCare. So having the car up there, it's a good start. You know, qualifying, it's 1.4 miles, all those cars out there. It's just hard to get a good lap. I'm sorry for Paul, but I had also -- it's easy to look at the data. I had three, four laps I was 3/10ths under and you find traffic. I was never doing it on purpose and I had cars in front. I always thought I didn't -- I was close enough to you. But obviously it's the way it's goes in 1.4 miles. I always try to be fair. I got screwed, too. It's just the nature of the game. You know, again, 6/100ths behind my teammate, it's very close, it's getting closer every weekend, which makes me happy. But also, you know, he's always just a little bit faster, just enough. Congratulations to him. I'm sure tomorrow will be a great race. I think although there's not many overtaking opportunities out there, I think the cars move around so much that there's going to be a lot of people doing mistakes easy because it's just so easy, so easy to do a little mistake that will cost you a lot. I'm sure there's going to be enough action for us and for the fans to have a good time and see a good show.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow. The polesitter for 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. He puts up what will now stand as the track record at San Jose, 54.243 seconds, 96.101 miles per hour. His third pole of the season, his 16th pole of his Champ Car career. That ties him with Gil de Ferran for 13th on the all-time Champ Car list. Sebastien, congratulations. Tell us a little about how it went.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it's not been an easy session for us. A damper failure in 15 minutes so we couldn't go right away. Then we went out and we had a red. Went out again, another red. It's not been very smooth. Kind of I got a bit too excited and made one mistake, collected myself and made it happen, but barely. There aren't so many corners. It's obviously quite tight out there, so it's very difficult to make a difference. But very happy for the McDonald's car. Just a pretty good job from the whole team. Put it on the front row, it means a lot. It means the team is working really hard. And we're both benefitting the hard work. So hopefully we keep up like that, have a long day tomorrow and a great show for the fans.
ERIC MAUK: Sebastien earns a championship point for leading today's qualifying, widening his series lead to 22 points over Paul Tracy. Sebastien, give us a little look ahead. How do you envision the start going down tomorrow?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I don't know. Well, first, I really hope that we're not going to start where we're supposed to because I think it's just going to be a distraction. You know, hopefully we'll have a discussion about it and we can move it somewhere else because obviously it was going to be bad with the hairpin, but now with the chicane, it's going to be a remake of Surfers. We know how it goes over there. I think there are a few opportunities to start the race somewhere else, and hopefully common sense is going to prevail. But everybody's going to go for it. They know that positions might be settled after the start. I'm kind of a bit worried about that. In the meantime, there's no better place to start from than the pole position. I guess I should be the guy who feels the best about it.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Best of luck tomorrow. We'll take questions from the media now.
Q. (Do you see this as a physical race than maybe Toronto?)
PAUL TRACY: It's more fatiguing to the body. It's not so physically demanding. But the bumps and everything, it's really demanding on your shoulders. It's like being in a paint shaker, you know. It's very fatiguing, not from a physical standpoint like Edmonton where it's hard to turn the steering wheel, the loads are high. But it's so bumpy, it's just shaking you and banging you around all the time.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, it hurts. It really hurts. Might be difficult tomorrow.
Q. Looking at the chicane that they put in and I guess widening turn four and some of the patch es that they did, did that improve things or make it worse?
PAUL TRACY: I think it improved. You know, for sure they made improvements. Obviously from the first session this morning till this afternoon, they made a huge improvement on the railroad tracks, which be would the first chicane. The cars were getting six inches off the ground. Now they're a lot more stable. They're doing everything they can do. The track is built now, so there's very limited things you can do once the track is put up. But they've made little improvements everywhere.
Q. Talk about that turn one and two deal there with the street car tracks. It looks very spectacular going through there, sounds very spectacular with the cars on the rev limiters. What kind of speed are you getting through there?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think it's 155 or something like that.
ORIOL SERVIA: It doesn't feel good.
PAUL TRACY: Today is a lot easier than yesterday. Obviously, yesterday was, you know, much narrower and tighter. You know, there was only a handful of cars able to do it flat yesterday, which really made a big difference in lap time. But if anything had gone wrong or you made a mistake on the entry, the consequences were huge. Everybody said, "Let's just open it up, make it easy for everybody. If something does go wrong, you've got some room to play with." But nobody anticipated how big the bump was going to be coming into the corner at a different angle. They've addressed that, ground the track, laid some concrete down and they've made it better. They're going to work on it again tonight and try to make it even better for tomorrow.
Q. With what happened at the US Grand Prix, do you guys feel like the Champ Car guys listen to you? You met with the guys about the hairpin, then the chicane. Do you feel like they tried to do everything they could to make it safer?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: The difference is they made it possible, they made it raceable, and we're going to make sure we have a show. I think that was a real shame about it in F1. They didn't make what was necessary to make it happen. Whoever is responsible, it doesn't matter. You have the duty to the fans. We had 50,000 people today, and we're going to have probably even more tomorrow. We just have to put on a show. Obviously, you know, if you have to put a chicane to make it safer, well, you know, they've done that in Formula One after Senna's accident in '95. '94, they kept adding chicanes everywhere and they raced all season like that. If now and then you have to use that, do it. I think we didn't have the runoff we needed to in the hairpin to make it somewhat safe. Now they have the small chicane that at least gives you some time to think about it if you have a brake failure.
Q. Looking at the season so far, halfway through the season, last year you had seven wins by the time it was over. I think you were a little bit more consistent. How do you compare this year to last year so far?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, last year was pretty much a trouble-free season, apart of Laguna Seca and Montreal. This year we already had our share of incidents. Kind of no bad luck, but no real success in qualifying. We had a car equally as good as last year and couldn't get the best out of it. I think it's always the same. PT can tell you. When you have a winning season, the next year is always harder because you have these memories where you say, "Oh, we won there, so we should win again." It's just making your life a bit harder because you are kind of sometimes overdemanding of yourself. But, no, I think realistically the most important thing is even if we had our share of incidents, we're still leading the championship. You know, it looked like the world turned around in Edmonton, so hopefully we can keep this momentum going on.
Q. Any thoughts about where a better place to start the race would be? From my standpoint, it looked like the straightaway coming onto the -- the last straightaway before the pits is at least relatively straightforward. I don't know if that would be a better place or not. Your thoughts?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I don't know. Before four, before eight, before nine, but certainly not before a chicane. We have two worries: the fast chicane side-by-side or the railroads are going to be a real challenge. We might see cars turning around. Then after it's a one-line deal in the small chicane. It's a lot tighter than Surfers. You know you can't make it. It's not going to be possible, I don't think so.
Q. Since you are coming back here, it is expected they will make some changes for next year, working with the city. If you could tell them what you'd like to see next year, what would it be?
ORIOL SERVIA: Well, I hope it's going to be such a great event for the city that they're going to let us use three, four more streets, you know, and have a bigger track, then would be awesome, honestly. It's great. The energy, the people, everybody really -- I think we all feel really welcome. It's going to be a great event. But, you know, if we could make the racing a little bit better just with the bigger track, I think the best street race we go to is Surfers, not only because of the energy there, but because of the racetrack itself. If we can have this one a little bit longer, definitely be a big, big thing.
PAUL TRACY: I think, you know, the track, they've done what they can do here. But I think, you know, one of the things that they need to look at next year is maybe not going over these railroad tracks because from what I understand, they have to open the railroad tracks at night. The city doesn't control the rail system. It's a different committee. They refused to shut the railroad system down. They wanted it open again at night. So that creates a problem with the barriers have to be moved. We couldn't change the first chicane and make it slower because we couldn't build curbs on top of that railway system or put a lot of blocks around there because they had to be moved right after practice was done today so the rail system could operate again. I think in the future, for the future of this race, unless they're prepared to shut the railway system down for three or four days, then we need to have the venue not run or go over that section on two parts of the track.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think they did the best they could. They had to compromise. It's not easy, especially for a first-time venue like that. I remember the comments after Denver the first year. It was quite interesting. Now it's one of the best venues we have in the championship. Just takes a bit of time, a few adjustments, they eventually get it there. But the truth is, it's already a success. It's trying again just to be positive and see that the thing is a success, we'll put on a good show tomorrow and have a good race. As always, sometime between now and next year, there's time to make improvements.
ERIC MAUK: To further illustrate Oriol's point about the crowd and the show this weekend, today's attendance figures have come in. We had 50,962 here today after having 40,000 yesterday. Our two-day total to this point for the inaugural Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose is over 91,000.
Q. Sorry to go back on this. Paul, you've seen Surfers change over the years. They changed the chicanes over there when that became an issue. Is it just a matter of time? Is there potential here?
PAUL TRACY: I wasn't around when they had the first Long Beach race. I few of the guys were there. I guess that was a disaster the first year. It was up and down those real steep hills. The cars were catching air. It's very, very difficult. The first event is always the hardest. I mean, logistically, it's hard to get everything organized. It's the first time the workers that are working on the track that are here have ever done this. Walkover bridges by sight. Everything is a first time. First time go around is always the hardest. They'll figure out, "Okay, here is where we made our mistakes," refine everything for next year, and next year everything will come together smoother. As the process goes, you get the same people working on the job site after a couple years, it starts to become seamless, like any street race. When you come to Toronto, when we used to race at Vancouver, Long Beach, the track just kind of after time gets put together because they use the same group of people to do it.
ERIC MAUK: That will bring an end to our press conference. Thank you very much. We go racing tomorrow at 2:00 local time.
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