Champ Car World Series: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Topics: Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
April 8, 2006
LONG BEACH, CALIFORNIA
ERIC MAUK: All right, Ladies and Gentlemen, we will go ahead and get started with our Bridgestone pole position press conference. The final grid has been set for the season opening to the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season. The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Round 1, will take place tomorrow. We take the flag here tomorrow at 1 p.m Pacific, 4 p.m. Eastern. We are joined by our top three qualifiers for tomorrow's race.
Before we get started, I would like to introduce Joe Barbieri, manager of motorsports for Bridgestone, to present today's Bridgestone Pole Position Award to Mr. Sebastien Bourdais.
JOE BARBIERI: Once again, Sebastien, great way to start the season off. Congratulations from Bridgestone. Along with this trophy here, we will present you with a $5,000 check and a $2,500 donation will go to the Hole in the Wall camps charity. Once again, congratulations.
ERIC MAUK: A lot of rubber on the track today. These guys were smoking on it, especially on the alternate, option Potenzas. Tell us about the performance of those.
JOE BARBIERI: Correct. Seems like those tires can be anywhere from 8/10ths to a second quicker to the standard tires we brought here this weekend. Obviously, we look for that excitement during the race, the strategy that the teams use, when not to use those tires.
A little different from last year. We plan on bringing alternates to all of the street and road courses this year in the Champ Car series. It will be all races except for Milwaukee. We hope that adds a lot of excitement and strategy for these teams.
Once again, congratulations. Look forward to a great race tomorrow. Thank you.
ERIC MAUK: We'll start today with our third place qualifier, driver of the #2 Hole in the Wall Camps Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Bruno Junqueira. Bruno's best lap today, 67.225 seconds, 105.389 miles per hour. Bruno, got it on the last lap of the day, jumped ahead of AJ. Tell us about that last lap.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: It was a good lap. I was even faster when the red came on.
This morning my car was really good, but I don't know. For sure the Bridgestone tires gave me a lot of grip, but the car changed a little bit the balance from the regular tire, especially in the first outing. Second outing, I think I could improve a little bit. The red came on. I don't think I had anything for Sebastien today. Yesterday I was pretty close of him, but today I was a couple of 10ths slower. So the car did not handle as good.
But still I'm quite happy to start my first race back. It's very important to start up front here in Long Beach, a street course, as everybody knows. I'm feeling pretty good for the race. All the Newman/Haas cars are pretty consistent, up front, at the top every session. Anyway, even my car didn't handle perfect, the car is really good. I think when you put the race setup, the car will be quite competitive.
ERIC MAUK: You've been waiting for a race weekend for about 10 or 11 months now. Have you thought about what you're going to feel like heading into turn one tomorrow?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I just going to try to race. You know, I'm not trying to think something. I did it so many times and I did it well, there's no reason why I cannot do it again. Just be patient. For sure I don't know what to expect. I mean, to push hard the whole race is going to be hard. But I try to do a lot of long runs lately on the testing season. So I think I'm ready to do the race, to be racing hard from the first lap until the end.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: Thank you.
ERIC MAUK: Starting on the outside of the front row, driver of the #9 CDW Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for RuSPORT, Justin Wilson. He puts up a fast time of 67.208 seconds, 105.416 miles per hour. Second consecutive front row start for Justin going back to when he started on pole last year in the season finale in Mexico City.
Justin, tell us a little bit about your day.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, it's been a very tough weekend so far. I'd like to thank my crew. They've worked very hard to turn the car around and make it stronger and faster. Quite pleased for them that we've managed to sneak onto the front row. From here, hopefully we can have a good race.
It's exactly, like I said, we want to make sure we get on the podium on the first event and start the season off well. That's a great way to kick off this season, especially now that we've got CDW on board. We're pretty pumped up for this first one. I think we can have a good result.
ERIC MAUK: From your standpoint, tell us a little bit about how the Bridgestone Potenzas held up today.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, holding up very well. The extra grip on the option red wall tires was very nice to feel. The track is pretty (indiscernible). Coming down into turn nine, you can throw the car in there and it's hanging on quite well. I really enjoyed it today. At the same time I think we got a little bit lucky to sneak a time in there. But sometimes it goes against you and sometimes it works for you. So, you know, I feel a little bit disappointed for AJ. He was definitely doing a great job all weekend. I'm sure he's going to be up there for the race.
ERIC MAUK: Congratulations. Good luck tomorrow.
JUSTIN WILSON: Thank you.
ERIC MAUK: The winner of the Bridgestone pole position for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, driver of the #1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing, Sebastien Bourdais. He sets a new track record with a time of 66.886 seconds, 105.924 miles per hour. His first Long Beach pole, the 19th pole of his Champ Car career, moving him into a tie for 10th on the all-time list with Rex Mays and with Danny Sullivan. Also Sebastien joins his teammate Bruno Junqueira as the latest two Champ Car drivers to win poles in each of their first four seasons in Champ Car competition.
Sebastien, you talked about it yesterday, you thought it might be possible to get in the 66. You hung a couple of those up today. How do you feel about the way it went?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Oh, I think the whole McDonald's team make the big effort and it (indiscernible) on the performance. The car was great, not really much to complain about. This morning we had a good amount of running. You know, as I said yesterday, we had failure on both of the front end. We had to stop running after only one attempt. It was getting into qualifying a little with some unknowns. Today we definitely put our stuff together and it worked out great.
I think the Bridgestone tires answered exactly the way we wanted them to be. You know, we had great grip, (indiscernible) came up very quickly. It's like when we pit after the first run, it was, boy, we've got 5/10ths on the field. It's a tough call. You want to look good for the race, so you always tempted to try to save tires. In the meantime, you are a hero if it works and you are a dumb-ass if it doesn't. It's a little difficult.
It was a little intense for five minutes in the pits, but it all worked out great.
ERIC MAUK: Does it give you any sense of security? Does it affect your mindset at all turning into the first turn tomorrow your teammate is heading into that turn right behind you?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think all the favorites are up front. I think the only one who made the small mistake today was PT. But I guess he kind of paid yesterday's mistake and made another one. He's going to be there for the race. I mean, there's no doubt about that. I don't know. You never quite know what to expect with PT, so we'll see what's going on.
You know, Justin and AJ are really strong. Bruno is back where he left off. I expect a very tough season. We're going to be on and hopefully tomorrow's strategy doesn't play against us.
ERIC MAUK: This is Newman/Haas Racing's ninth Long Beach Grand Prix pole in their long and storied history. Also the final red flag that ended the session a bit prematurely, both Will Power and Charles Zwolsman were penalized their fastest lap time for bringing out that red flag, both the 5 and 34 were penalized.
We'll open it up to questions.
Q. (No microphone.)
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: No, I mean, I think today I didn't get a good lap as I did yesterday. I mean, yesterday I was a few hundredths behind Sebastien. Today I'm 3/10ths behind him. I was expecting to be in the middle. I needed to be closer to him today.
My car wasn't handling that right. For sure the red flag took out my chances to improve a little bit. But even without the red flag, I don't think I had anything for Sebastien today. So I'm not surprised that Justin is here because he's been strong on the winter testing. I know that he's going to be often giving us, me and Sebastien, the Newman/Haas team, a challenger.
Q. Justin, there was one moment there we saw on the TV screen where it looked like you almost went three-wide into a turn. Looks like you had to make a little move through traffic. Tell us about that.
JUSTIN WILSON: Yeah, I think there was a couple of cars coming out of the pits. They were busy sorting themselves out on cold tires while I was trying to come through on a good lap. I think it was in between the fountain and turn four, we went three-wide. At that point I had been held up, so I didn't really care, I was going through anyway (laughter).
Q. Justin, it looks like this might be a dogfight all year between your team and the Newman/Haas team. How do you feel about that?
JUSTIN WILSON: It's obviously been our goal to try to catch up to the Newman/Haas team. They've obviously done a great job. They're still working pretty hard on improving their situation.
You know, we feel as if we've made progress. Both myself and AJ are closer. Over the course of this year, we're going to keep working and trying to get closer, and if not, ahead.
I think I've got the best opportunity to challenge Sebastien and Bruno with RuSPORT. Like I said earlier, I'm just -- I can't wait to get started and see what we've got.
Q. Sebastien, the new configuration going into turn one, does that give more advantage to being on the pole (indiscernible)?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think it's more likely to see at least at the front between the top guys some passing there because you see the braking zone is so short and the corner is so fast.
Actually, I'm a little more worried about pit-out now because you're going so fast at speed in turn one, so slow coming out the pits, might be a little bit of an issue.
Realistically right now, you know, unless we have mechanical or I make a mistake, the only thing that can stop us pretty much is strategy. You always try and save fuel and go as far as you can. But sometimes you just get (indiscernible) at your own game. We'll see how it goes.
For sure the turn one thing, I think it's a little worrisome for the race.
Q. (No microphone.)
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, it's 5 or 6/10ths quicker only in turn one. It's significant. I mean, inside the car, it feels like it's going quite a bit quicker.
JUSTIN WILSON: It makes turn two a lot tighter.
Q. Today was significantly warmer than yesterday. Does that change the track or your setup at all?
JUSTIN WILSON: I don't think so. We've been working away on our setup. The track's getting quicker and quicker every session, just with the amount of rubber going down on the surface.
We're just chasing the circuit as usual and trying to keep up with it and not fall behind on our setup changes. You know, for me, the temperature is really not an issue.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You've got to remember, I'm sure everybody's aware of it, the wind -- the air is still pretty cold. The sun is hitting the track, but the air is not really hot. It doesn't affect the engine or anything like that.
Q. Justin, you've added some engineering staff from Newman/Haas. How much has that impacted your preparation over the off-season?
JUSTIN WILSON: I think it's helped it a lot, not because he's necessarily from Newman/Haas, but because he's very good. It's brought a different way of thinking into the team. That added with the engineers we already have, it's brought us up to another level. Each time it seems like we employ another engineer, it's just more information and it makes our life a little bit easier, and easier to understand. He's viewing this from a different perspective.
We're generally pretty happy with what's happening in the team. We're picking up the pace. The personnel are very good. All the mechanics are excellent. The truck drivers, every single person on the team is making a difference.
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I just wanted to add something about that actually. I kind of read some bad comments about what I said yesterday. I'm not saying he went over there with all the setups. It's not what I said. I just said he's a smart guy and he's obviously going to bring a whole lot of experience. He's not a threat. I'm just saying he went over there and he's going to be a loss on our side and a plus on their side.
JUSTIN WILSON: Also it's not like he turned up with Sebastien and Bruno's setups. We don't know what Sebastien's running. He has a train of thought, which is what the -- the process is what helps us, not necessarily the end result.
ERIC MAUK: All right. That will wrap it up. We go racing tomorrow, take the green flag for 76 laps at 4 p.m. Eastern. Thank you.
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