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Long Beach Driver Interviews

Long Beach, CA, April 9, 2006 ó Julie Andre scoured the Long Beach pit lane and paddock looking for drivers to answer her questions on what the rookies expect their first year, the effect of the changes in the Atlantic's series, concerns about the old tubs, and changes to the track.

JULIE: What are your hope and expectations in your first Champ Car season?

PIZZONIA: The car is totally different than I am used to driving. The race is quite different. It takes a little while to get used to everything and learn everything. But I am really hoping to score as many points and a few podiums and maybe win.

CLARKE: I want to win as much as possible. That is what I am here for. I get motivated by chasing the other cars around this track.

ZWOLSMAN: Right now we are struggling with all sorts of problems. It is difficult to say where we are. We didnít do much testing before the season. The deal came pretty late. I am going to crawl into it and try and improve every time.

JULIE: What kind of effect on the overall Champ Car series will the new revived Atlantic series have?

Sebastien Bourdais Interview Photo BOURDAIS: I donít know. I think it is a great thing to extend the base but you need to be able to provide some future for these drivers, so I am a little concerned right now. It has opened up a huge base. We are going to have tons of good drivers that are going to show up. We might have a lot of unemployed drivers at the end of the year. That happened in France, we had a good school and we formed between 5 and 10 good French drivers each year, but did not know what to do with them after that. I just wish we could find more budget. That would be great for everyone involved.

JUNQUEIRA: The Atlantic Series is very nice. I think the changes that have been made are good. Me and Sebastian went and watched the qualifying today. It will be very exciting. We are planning on watching them again.

WILSON: I think it is great! It is going to help Champ Car. I think you will see some of those teams and drivers move up in the next couple of years and that large grid will slowly translate and start to grow the series and get stronger and show people what Champ Car has been capable of doing.

PHILIPPE: I think it is a great thing. My little brother races in that series. I wish I was around in that series. That would have been a great opportunity.

ZWOLSMAN: The 2 million dollar prize fund is helping to get people interested. It is the best feeder series, I have seen. Making sure the champion steps up like I did last year.

Quote Image RANGER: This is good for the series, the Atlantic Series, and for Champ Car. It is fun to see 32 cars in Atlantics. I want to watch that race. It is great of Champ Car to help this smaller series.

JULIE: Are you concerned that the old cars, especially the tubs, will have mechanical issues as you try to stretch them out for one more year?

BOURDAIS: No I think, we have had to replace one tub. Itís not the integrity of the tub. That stayed good. We had to move some engine mountings and we had to pull some studs off and stuff. We had one chassis that was 13 or 14 thousand miles, it was way, way time to get rid of it. If you donít crash or anything you end up repairing the stuff. You keep carrying parts around. No, but Newman/Haas is good at counting miles on parts and on some teams that will be tighter on their budget. It will probably be a safety issue. I think everybody will be happy for many reasons when we see how different things run in 2007.

JUNQUEIRA: No, the Lolas are perfect, I have no concerns.

WILSON: The cars have been excellent. My sponsor, CDW, has really been involved in the team in many different ways. They have been very supportive. If we need something they are right there with us. Their technical background has been excellent which will help stretch out these cars.

PHILIPPE: No, not at all, these cars have been running for the past 5 years. I have not had any problems, and I have a great crew that will keep the cars together.

ZWOLSMAN: I think all of the teams are doing the same and next year will be exciting with the new cars. Everybody will be on a level playing ground. I am looking forward to doing that.

RANGER: I am a little concerned. I canít wait to see the 2007 Champ Car. I have never seen it, but imagine the car will be really fun to drive. I think it will be a completely different car with more horsepower. I think everybody will start in the same place. A small team and the big teams. This year everybody pushed hard to develop the car. Next year it is another year. Everybody wants to win the championship. They are doing the best they can.

JULIE: What do you think of the changes that were made to the track (Turn 1)?

BOURDAIS: I think it is going to be worse because it is not widening the track. They are moving the apex. It is making a much more open radius in the corner which means more speed in the corner. So if the braking was that long, now it is that long now. So you have to make a split decision and you wonít have time to bail out. I think there will be more crashes with people trying to pass. It is very nice when you are driving it. I like it. But for the race it is not a good addition. We got rid of one of the very few spots to pass. So it is a shame, but it doesnít mean it is not going to happen. It means it is going to be more risk for sure.

PIZZONIA: I like the track. I donít have a lot of experience on the street circuits but I really like this one. The only other one is on the streets of Monaco and Monaco is a lot tighter. But it is good, there is a lot of places to overtake people. That should make the race interesting.

JUNQUEIRA: It will be a little more difficult on the start.

Justin Wilson Interview Photo WILSON: No, its going to be difficult into turn one. You have a higher speed through the corner, so you are breaking for less time. The room for out breaking somebody is going to be harder to get down inside and make a pass work. You could quite easily have an accident if the one on the outside doesnít want to give up the inside of the corner, both cars will crash. It is going to be tricky, if you try and overtake, so I am not sure if overtaking will be a factor. Turn one, six, and eight, maybe nine if you get a good run, could be possible passing opportunities. It just depends on if you have a good run on the car in front of you. If you are good at the last corner into turn one.

CLARKE: The track is still green. It is the first day for everybody. We are doing great but we are going to have to get quicker because the track is going to get quicker.

PHILIPPE: The track is a little tough with the new changes. There might be a little more passing.

ZWOLSMAN: They made it about two meters wider. So it makes it pretty much the same as last year. I donít think there will be additional passing. It has made that corner a little quicker. You slow down a little less for the corner. It will be pretty similar in respect to last year.

RANGER: It is always been a nice track. It is the first race and I am excited to be here. The first corner is a little bit wild. It is fun we can put a little more speed in that corner. Long Beach is always fun.

Photos by

Copyright © 2006 by Julie Andre and Deep Throttle. All Rights Reserved.

 
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