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Michael Jourdain Jr., Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing - Q&A

20 May 2013

Inevitably 34 drivers into 33 grid spots simply don't go, so from the moment that Katherine Legge was confirmed in a third Schmidt-Peterson car on Saturday is was just a matter of who the unlucky driver missing out on the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 was going to be. (See separate story.)

After 36-year-old Michel Jourdain Jr. from Mexico City drew the short straw, he joined the press in the media centre at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for an understandably downbeat review of what had gone wrong for Jourdain and the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team this weekend ...


Q:
Well, Michel, doggone. It's a tough day, obviously, and it looks like a lot of different things you were trying to find some speed and just couldn't get it.

Michel Jourdain Jr.:
Yeah. It was going to be very hard. All week we struggled. Right away, I didn't feel the car very well, you know, but when you're only driving once a year, it's just so hard to know.

It's just a feel thing, and some days it feels really well and getting a little better every day and it was just a low point, and, you know, we just - try this morning, James' setup. He was the fastest of the three cars, and coming out of Turn 4 first lap I almost spun, and I felt this car isn't drivable. And I felt - we put Graham in the car with his exact same setup and everything, steering wheel is in, everything, you know.

It was impossible for him to feel a difference. Just couldn't drive it. He couldn't go - he came in, got the 204 and he said, "I'm not going any faster." He said - you try to go flat out and come in Turn 4. It's impossible.

So we went back and we changed it, changed the whole - the things we had time to change which was the floor - front ring, we tried but as soon as I came in, the car was the same.

I thought, well, we changed so many things, it was Graham's setup. The setup we had yesterday, we worked on it for a week and the car was really well. But for some reason we ended up there so the car was just, I mean couldn't go flat out - with more force and - it was, just, you know, the only thing, keep trying was do something stupid and put the car in the wall, you know. Not make the race anyway, so there's no point in that.

Q:
The things you're talking about, you're making big changes, and you start making big changes all the time, then it gets very hard to sort it out. I think people understand if you change this, that's going to make it one way, you change another thing, that affects the car, and before you know it you're pretty much searching desperately.

Michel Jourdain Jr.:
We know, for sure, there's something's wrong with the car. Something's bent, broken, bending, loose; something's wrong from in the car that we haven't seen all week.

We drove the car in Long Beach, and it was really fast, so we think the tub should be OK. We don't know. But there's something wrong. You know, I mean everything during the week, I thought I haven't drove these cars in a year, and the second day I was running in traffic. I mean, it was the first day I was having so much fun, car was so fun to drive and so easy to drive. Just impossible.

Q:
Was there any suspicion that you said the tub, but was there concern that there was damage to the tub?

Michel Jourdain Jr.:
I'm sure the tub was OK. I mean, it was fine, it was good. They checked it the beginning of the season. Go from (inaudible), and it was really fast in Long Beach, I'm sure. And didn't crash or anything out there. The car hasn't been used since then and, so, I don't know.

I mean, of course we have to go back. The only - my only mistake should have been, was not pushing hard enough that there is/was something in the car. Said many times to try to check it, the other valve, and try to get James, the car was (inaudible) and what, you know, we were sometimes making some little progress but of course running off, but you know -

Q:
Did you ever consider going to a different chassis? Was that even an option?

Michel Jourdain Jr.:
No. But the only option would have been - we were ready to be driving the car Wednesday, Thursday, of course it was un - like I said we were making a little progress sometimes, but the car started completely apart, you know. Ended up - I mean Graham went out like that.

After 2, 2:30, he went out and the backup car started completely apart. It was not an option. It was just - because, it's you know, for I mean, I'm sure it would be very hard for everybody, but if I could go two weeks to Detroit and race the next eight weeks, it would be easier.

But this is my only race of the year and, you know, everybody worked so hard and my sponsors and they trusted me with this and a very big project, lot of people coming from Mexico next week for this, so it's hard.

Q:
We hope we see you back here in a happier moment.

Michel Jourdain Jr.:
Thank you very much.

Transcript courtesy IndyCar


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