May 10, 2003
ERIC MAUK: Thank you for joining us for the final qualifying press conference for the German 500, Round 5 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford. We are joined by the top three qualifiers for tomorrow's event and we will start with Michel Jourdain. Michel is the third-best qualifier for the German 500 driving the #9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Team Rahal. Michel takes the third spot in qualifying with a lap of 37.274 seconds (195.386 mph). This marks the highest that Michel has qualified on an oval since starting third at Nazareth in 2001. Michel, take us through your lap.
MICHEL JOURDAIN: I am happy although it is such a long race tomorrow that qualifying doesn't matter so much, but it is better to be in the front than in the back. We knew we had a good car even this morning and I know that Team Rahal always has a great car on superspeedways so I went out and just got a feel for the car early and within a few laps we were flat out.
ERIC MAUK: You mentioned that Team Rahal has usually had a good car on these types of tracks. Does that help your confidence when you roll off the truck?
MICHEL JOURDAIN: I know that we always have good cars on the superspeedways but it's a very long race with a lot of pit stops and we need to make sure that we are there at the end to put ourselves in position to win. I am confident that this team knows how to do that and I will do my best.
ERIC MAUK: Our second-place qualifier is Bruno Junqueira, driver of the #1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone for Newman/Haas Racing who will start on the outside of the front row after posting a time of 37.211 seconds (195.716mph). This is Bruno's highest starting position of the season and the best for him since he won the pole at Mexico City to close out the 2002 campaign. Bruno, congratulations and tell us about your day.
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: My run was OK, the car was pretty neutral, pretty good. I ran the short line all the way around and tried to get a good time.
ERIC MAUK: You've had good qualifying runs in the last couple of races now, are you starting to feel like you are hitting your qualifying groove?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I don't know, last year I should be on the pole, especially on the ovals. It's frustrating, although I am second and that's not a bad position but I am two-tenths off the pole that's a lot of difference for an oval.
ERIC MAUK: Leading a sweep for Newman/Haas Racing and taking the pole for tomorrow's German 500 is Sebastien Bourdais, driver of the #2 Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone, who takes the pole with a time of 37.000 seconds (196.832mph). The pole is the third of the year for Sebastien and is the first oval-track pole for Newman/Haas since Christian Fittipaldi won the pole at Rio in 1999. This makes him the first driver since Juan Pablo Montoya in 1999 to win as many as three poles in his rookie season and gives him another championship point, giving him 28 on the year and tying him for fifth in the series. Sebastien, congratulations. You led practice today, did you think you had a reasonable chance for pole today?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You know, I think we had a very strong car since the beginning of this event. It was a big surprise, especially in qualifying, because we were so quick in Brands so we thought we didn't trim enough of the car because you all know that we had to keep the same configuration for this event about the choices on the downforce you know. We set the best lap times this morning and we knew that it was possible to do it for qualifying. It was because of my job because as Michel said, it was flat all the way around and it's going to be a very interesting race because in traffic, the car is difficult to drive. We just have to wait until to tomorrow to see if we did a good enough job to prepare for the race.
ERIC MAUK: The first two poles you won this year, the first two times out, you still said that you were a little surprised at how well things had gone. Now you've gotten three poles, you have a race win under your belt, are you starting to come to the track knowing that you have a shot to win every weekend?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: Yeah, I think we definitely have a chance to be on the pace pretty much everywhere. We did it basically in the first two events, it was a little more difficult in Long Beach but we did it again in Brands with a win at the end of the weekend. So we just expect that this time is going to be different and the winner is going to be the one that starts from the pole.
Q: What is the key to your success so far this year?
SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: I think that we had a good winter test, we learned a lot and especially me from the team. I think that time gave us a lot of confidence. Basically the Champ Car is just a big F3000 car with twice as much horsepower and twice as much downforce, it's a bit heavier. It's no big deal, you just need to improve yourself and get more and more precise and hopefully it will be like this all season.
Q: To what do you attribute the fact that you were two tenths of a second slower?
BRUNO JUNQUEIRA: I have no idea. Two-tenths here is like a lifetime. Our setups were really close and I was flat. I don't know. For sure I carry a camera that may cause a little bit of drag, maybe half a tenth maximum, but the rest I don't know. Maybe the engine, we'll have to look and see what it was.
Q: To Michel, when you look now to the Champ Car series. You have drivers that have been competing very well in Europe, do you think that maybe the long term will see more guys coming from Mexico.
MICHEL JOURDAIN: I think its not only the last couple of years. Emerson Fittipaldi came from Formula 1 and it's been quite big ever since CART started. Max, Juan Pablo and many guys came. I think its great. The level of driving is very impressive and you have a lot of guys that were champions from F3000 or whatever and they are usually winning wherever they came from so it raises the level of competition and makes everyone better.
ERIC MAUK: This brings to an end our press conference, thank you all for coming. Tomorrow's 154-lap event begins at 2 p.m. and will be preceded by Alex Zanardi running 13 laps in his #66 Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone Champ Car.
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