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Champ Car World Series: West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton

Champ Car World Series: West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton

Sebastien Bourdais
Oriol Servia
Paul Tracy
July 17, 2005


EDMONTON, ALBERTA

ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we'll go ahead and get started with our post race press conference for the inaugural West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton, round seven of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We will be joined by our top three finishers on the day today. Our third place finisher, driver of the #3 Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Forsythe Championship Racing, Paul Tracy. He led 30 laps on the day. Has now led 3999 laps in his Champ Car career.

PAUL TRACY: One more is all I needed.

ERIC MAUK: Earns his fifth podium of the year, the 67th of his career. Paul, pretty wild day for you today. Tell us a little bit about how you feel about it.

PAUL TRACY: Well, it's kind of a mixed day today. We started off the race really well. My goal was to get ahead of Justin at the start. We went side by side through turn one. I got ahead of him through the chicane. Then we got to the tight corner, a right-hander. He stuffed it down the inside of me over the curb. I didn't see him until the last second. I turned in. We locked up wheels. I almost slid into the tire barrier. I got out across in front of him to the next corner. Really set after AJ. Saving fuel. I was surprised. I thought that, you know, he would be quicker than that. My car seemed to be handling well. For whatever reason, Justin was long gone. We kind of dropped him. We came up on the first real round of back markers, and he went to dive inside somebody and locked the brake up and made a small mistake and ran wide at the long hairpin. I was able to drive down the inside and get around him. Really, was about to pull away, just start to edge away from him, and then the yellow came out. We did our pit stops. Second stint, went on to blacks. The car was good for the first few laps. I just -- I locked the brake really badly and flat-spotted the tire. It just compounded itself. I kept continually locking it. Locked an outside front, flat-spotted that one. The rear tires started to go away, and I really started to struggle. You know, both AJ and Justin got by me. They just left me. I thought, "Okay, well." They were quick all weekend, so we'll try to hang on to third. My tires went away so bad, we had to pit early. When I came out, I got behind -- came out of the pits behind Marcus Marshall. He was going three seconds a lap slower than what I was doing earlier. He wouldn't let me by for six, seven laps. He didn't want to let me go. Ultimately I tried to pass him and spun when I was trying to pass him. That pretty much relegated us to where we were at. We got lucky in the end with AJ and Justin spinning out. Ended up back on the podium.

ERIC MAUK: Talk a little bit about the tremendous support from the Edmonton people and the people of Alberta in this inaugural event. Huge crowd out here today.

PAUL TRACY: People were saying over the winter this wasn't a place to have a race; it should have been another venue or in Vancouver. This is the biggest-attended race that I think Canada has ever had. It's an unbelievable event. Greg has done a great job, the promoter, did all the promotion. The guy's a hard worker. He's done a great job up here. I have to applaud the whole City of Edmonton for everything they've done for our sport, for Champ Car.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations on the result today. Our race runner-up, driver of the #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Oriol Servia. Oriol led a pair of laps on the day, scores his fourth podium finish in the last five races, the ninth podium of his career. Perhaps even more importantly he moved up another spot in the points, now fourth in the points. Oriol, another strong run for you. How do you feel?

ORIOL SERVIA: I'm actually quite happy. In Toronto, you saw I wasn't that happy with my second place because for a while I thought I was going to win it. This one, I mean, all weekend we were almost up there, but definitely the RuSPORT guys were faster. I mean, during the race I knew was going to be a little bit of a survival game. Mistake-free was definitely probably going to bring me a podium, me starting fourth. This is what happened. At the end, me and Sebastien were very close. Obviously, I wasn't going to try anything stupid. He did a mistake-free all those laps in front of me so I had nothing to do. I'm just very happy to finish second. Strong result for the PacifiCare car.

ERIC MAUK: You were in second those last few laps. Like you said, you didn't want to do anything stupid, but still you were on the 'push to pass'.

ORIOL SERVIA: Well, looks like I always get to the end with too much 'push to pass', you know. I wanted to put some pressure on Sebastien. Again, as I said, if he was going to make a mistake, I was going to take advantage of it, but not trying anything stupid. But he didn't. He did a very clean laps at the end, very fast. It was a good result.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. The winner of the inaugural West Edmonton Mall Grand Prix of Edmonton, our series points leader, the defending Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford champion, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. Sebastien led 12 laps on the day, earning his 12th career win. That ties him for 18th all time, ties him with Cristiano da Matta. His second win of the year, 20th podium of his career. As well, he has reached 12 Champ Car wins in just 39 starts, making him the fastest driver in terms of starts ever to win 12 Champ Car races. Alex Zanardi won 12 in 41 starts back in the late '90s. Sebastien, not the way you're comfortable winning them, but a win is a win. How do you feel?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Feels great. Just feels great. If there's one point and one moment to be up there in the media center, it's at the end of the race. I can't be any happier than that. As Paul said, it's been a first-class event. Just pure joy to be winning this first race here. I really couldn't believe it when I saw under yellow Justin spinning in front of me and then AJ making a really small mistake. (Indiscernible) as it has been for me on Friday in qualifying, just brushed the wall. It clipped I guess the valve or something, put him a flat tire, he couldn't make the next corner. I know how it feels to chase your first win and not achieve that. It happened to me the first two starts in 2003. I'm sure he's devastated. He probably deserved this one, he was fast all weekend long. You know, we just pretty much collected ourselves today and just made a mistake-free race, just took the benefits of everybody's mistakes. That was just unbelievable.

ORIOL SERVIA: Wasn't easy not to do mistakes. Don't get us wrong. It was so easy. So easy. Even in qualifying -- sorry to interrupt. To put three laps together, it was really hard. It was really, really hard not to make one today, really difficult. It's really challenging track. I think the most challenging place I ever been.

ERIC MAUK: This is Newman/Haas 12th Champ Car win here in Canada. They have 85 in their illustrious career, which includes five Champ Car titles. Sebastien, take us through a little on your strategy today. You started 10th, you were up to 6th by the end of lap six, but then you kind of settled in and waited for something to happen.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it didn't exactly happen like that. Obviously, I tried really hard at the beginning. I just did a pretty good job to warm my tires during the (indiscernible) laps. It seemed to work really well. My car was behaving very, very well. I was very happy with it during the first few laps. People seemed to be struggling and I was able to go by fairly easily in turn one after having a good exit off the fast chicane. I was using the 'push to pass', passing people, getting further and further. Looked pretty good for a while. But doing that, apparently I heat my tires quite hot. Then after that, I had to settle down a little and just take better care of my tires, try to save fuel when I couldn't go by anybody else. Then I settled there behind Oriol. It looked like it was going to be a pretty good result for us because we were able to save quite a bit of fuel. Was really looking for a pretty late stop. Well, we had to make it under yellow. Got passed by Alex, which was obviously a huge step back. But in order to do that, they had to put very little fuel in the car because he run out of fuel, I'm pretty sure. I saw him not making pitting at full speed. You know, that just killed us really because then on alternate tires he was going fast but not enough to keep up with the front-runners. I didn't have enough speed to try anything on him. He was going through the fast chicane pretty well. My major spot to pass people was no longer available in turn one, then I really had to wait. That's what I've been doing after that in the second half of the race. I just waited and tried to save fuel when I had to, tried to go fast when I had the clean track and clear track in front of me. That paid off. It feels really good to bring a first 1 and 2 in this 2005 season with Oriol. We obviously miss Bruno quite a bit. But Oriol and myself are doing a very good job and we just still going to try and bring the thing home to Newman/Haas Racing.

ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Before we get started with questions from the media, unofficial points standings after seven events, Sebastien Bourdais is your points leader with 182 points, Paul Tracy is second with 161, Justin Wilson is third with 152, Oriol Servia moves up to fourth with 135, AJ Allmendinger is fifth with 122. Questions from the media.

Q. (No microphone.)

ORIOL SERVIA: I mean, honestly I was a little frustrated because I run into Nelson Philippe those two or three laps that I knew it was going to be crucial. I actually didn't know exactly it was going to be Sebastien. But I knew we were pitting on different laps, me, Sebastien, Paul, all those different guys. I knew those middle laps were crucial. I was on cold tires. Nelson was not. I was trying to get past him, but he was a lap down. I just couldn't. Just when he let me, I saw him going out. You know, it's very easy to make a mistake. You know, I obviously tried, but he was ahead, so there's not much I could do. I tried later in that lap.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I really thought I was not going to be able to hold him off. I braked late for turn 10.

ORIOL SERVIA: We both lock wheels. At that point I thought, "Okay."

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I didn't think I was going to have a chance to stay in front of Oriol, especially since I ran into some back markers also in my fast lap when I really needed to go fast. I thought, "Well, this is it." You see I turn probably a 1:03, something like that, two laps before pitting. I thought that was not going to happen, but still made it.

Q. (No microphone.)

PAUL TRACY: I wouldn't say there's no passing places. I think there was more passing for the lead in this race than we've had in a long time. But it's demanding. It requires you to be very, very committed to the corner. If you make a small mistake, you pay for it big - not only in terms of your lap time, but it's so easy to hit the wall on the exit. You're going so fast that you want to push to the limit. But if you make a small mistake, it really bites you hard.

ORIOL SERVIA: I have a suggestion. It was a great event. If you want to have the greatest ever, let's use the full airport next year (laughter).

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: The real thing, I think what people don't see, it's really bumpy. I mean, when you look at the downforce velocity, it's the highest velocity ever we've seen. It's not extreme high berms, but it's small undulations and small bumps here and there. It just kills you. I mean, it grabs the steering wheel out of your hands. As you know, we don't have power steering or anything like that. It just makes your life terribly difficult at the end of the race.

Q. (No microphone.)

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, it was obviously a pretty unexpected win today. I really thought I was going to score a top five. But, you know, win the race, just... I knew we had the speed because this morning we were the fastest car in warm-up. The first practice, we were the fastest. So when we had an opportunity to show what kind of speed we had, we were right there. But it doesn't really matter. Everybody is pretty fast in the field. It's not easy to go by people. I think we've seen that. So I wasn't expecting it. You know, I take it for sure.

Q. (No microphone.)

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, to see such a commitment from the city and to have such a crowd, the setup was great. I mean, there definitely are a few holes that could probably be avoided and could open some room for mistakes. But it also obviously bites you hard. As Paul said, if you make a mistake, you're going to pay full price for it. That definitely makes it even harder for everybody.

Q. (No microphone.)

PAUL TRACY: Well, my car was good. In the beginning, obviously I was on reds. I felt good the first half of the race. I'm looking at the times now. You know, AJ was a 59.9. The three of us were 1:01.3, 1:01.5, 1:01.5. Obviously, they had the handle of everybody today. They were almost a second and a half quicker, both him and Justin. So, obviously, their cars were phenomenal today, but obviously didn't make it to the end. The last stint for me, I mean, I just for whatever reason, from when the track started in the beginning of the race, when the track was lower grip, my car was really good. As the track gained grip, my car started to become a little bit ill-handling, the steering became very heavy. I was having locking problems. That was really my issue.

Q. (No microphone.)

PAUL TRACY: Yeah, for sure it was faster. But I think, you know, for us we just had too much caster in the car. The steering became too heavy at the end of the race.

Q. When Justin spun, how close was he to taking you out?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Well, I was quite surprised, but I was ready to stop my car. He was quite sideways in the middle of the track. But he backed it up. I saw he was going to try and restart quite fast.

PAUL TRACY: He almost hit me. When he had spun, the tires were spinning, and he was coming basically right at me to turn it around. So he was in a hurry to get turned around.

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, definitely he was probably not very proud of himself, that's for sure.

Q. (No microphone.)

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: It happens to the best ones, and he's a very good one. It shows how difficult these cars are on restarts and under yellows. When the tires are hot, you grab anything on the racetrack. Obviously, there was a one-line deal here. Every time you would put one wheel off, you would be struggling for a full lap. It was so easy to lose it on restarts. It happened to Justin under yellow. It happened to AJ two laps in after the race start. For five laps, the car was really, really tough to drive.

Q. (No microphone.)

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah. Well, I think, as everybody said, we knew it was a real physical challenge because, you know, clearly my car was better than 1:01.3. Past 50 laps, I couldn't get the best out of it. The steering wheel got so heavy, I just couldn't use the best out of it. It's too bad, but that's the way it is. We knew as a consequence people were going to make mistakes. When you get tired, lose your concentration and vigilance, then what happens is you make mistakes. Yeah, some people are going to spin it. Some people are going to stuff it in a wall, because there were quite a few opportunities to do that here. We just decided to maybe go slightly slower when we felt that -- both Oriol and I think when we saw we couldn't play any harder than that, you just have to play with what you've got. That's what we did. We had a pretty trouble-free race and that paid off big time.

ERIC MAUK: All right. Thank you all very much. Our next event takes place July 31st, the inaugural Taylor Woodrow Grand Prix of San Jose. Thank you very much.

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