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Q&A: Justin Wilson – EXCLUSIVE

11 July 2005

While British motor sport fans were watching on to see if Jenson Button could fight for victory in the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, another British star was charging to victory on the other side of the pond.

Justin Wilson, formally of Minardi and Jaguar, clinched the first win for both himself and the RuSPORT team in the Champ Car World Series with victory in the Molson Indy Toronto and Crash.net took the chance to congratulate the Sheffield-born man on his maiden victory...

Crash.net:
Justin, that's your first win in the Champ Car World Series - how does it feel to have got onto the top step of the podium?

Justin Wilson:
It feels great to have finally made the podium full-stop! I've been trying and getting so close for the last year and a half so it feels great to have finally achieved that.

Crash.net:
Just talk us through the race, how did it unfold from your point of view?

Justin Wilson:
From my perspective the start was pretty good. Everyone got away clean and I was settling in behind Sebastien [Bourdais] and Paul [Tracy] and it was going ok, I was comfortable there until about lap 20 when I started to burn off my rear tyres and I struggling to hold on to it so we dropped back a bit towards the end of that stint and the following stint. Paul and Sebastien then had their coming together and brought out the yellow flags and that's when the race started to get interesting. I was on light fuel for the last stint and was able to make a few passes and get into the lead.

Crash.net:
One of those passes was on Alex Tagliani just before the yellow flags came out - can you talk us through that move...

Justin Wilson:
Yeah there was some debate as to when the yellow flag came out. Alex is saying he saw one going into the hairpin and that's how I got past, but I didn't see that. I saw him leave the door open so I dived down the inside. It was about three or four corners later, when I got to turn six, when I was told there was a yellow flag and I'd already seen at that stage that AJ [Allmendinger] had followed me through so I was a bit shocked when he drove back past me on the pit straight to take second place back!

Crash.net:
Then it was a case of trying to chase down Oriol Servia for the win. Turn three is one of those where you know you can pass but there has been incidents in the past, so how 'heart-in-mouth' was that move for the lead?

Justin Wilson:
It was closer than I was expecting because I'd been watching Oriol for quite a few laps and he had been going down the middle of the road and he;d start to brake and miss the bumps and go to the outside so I was pretty confident that the door was wide. We're not allowed to defend in Champ Car so if I could get close enough I knew I could make the move work.

I'd used push to pass on the previous two laps to work out where I needed to be and on the last lap I went for it and found myself a lot closer to the wall than I expected to be but there was still room at the apex and he moved back and I could get through. After that it was much easier, my car was great and I got a good few laps in and was able to pull away before the race went yellow.

Crash.net:
Does the team keep you up to date with how your rivals are using their push to pass?

Justin Wilson:
Yeah I knew that Alex had used all his and I'd used mine on that move but I believe Oriol had six seconds left so I was praying that there wouldn't be a restart because it would have given him an advantage. I knew we were good in turn one and turn three so I could at least get a good run through one and a good run onto the back straight but even so I didn't want to be put in that predicament.

Crash.net:
How did it feel to be out front in those closing laps?

Justin Wilson:
A bit strange, especially when you get the white flag and you know that as long as you don't do anything silly and you don't break down youre going to win so it was great to come across the line and take the chequered flag - its good to get it out of the way.

Crash.net:
How much does it mean to you to take not only your own maiden Champ Car win but also the first win for the RuSPORT team?

Justin Wilson:
Obviously it's great. RuSPORT has been working hard, and this is only the teams second season in Champ Car. I feel very proud to have got their first victory and hopefully it will be the first of many.

Crash.net:
We have a good relationship with your team-mate AJ who has his column here on Crash.net. What was his reaction to the win? Was he a little jealous that you got there before him?

Justin Wilson:
Obviously we both want to win, but AJ is a good guy and he was trying as hard as he could to be right there with me but unfortunately he wasn't able to make the podium. Everyone is just happy that he is ok and not injured. He went back to the hotel and I was doing media stuff until late last night so he sent me a text to say well done and then we met up for the team dinner and he was back to his usual playful self getting up to mischief as he does!

He's obviously disappointed but at the same time he is happy that he was competitive in the race and could have been right there.

Crash.net:
This win has done your title chances no harm - do you now see yourself as a serious contender for the Champ Car World Series title?

Justin Wilson:
Yeah I think we can challenge for the championship. We don't quite have the knowledge and the data to rely on that Newman Haas and Forsythe have so we are going to be the outsiders but I think we can keep working quietly away at it and if Paul and Sebastien get friendlier still then who knows what might happen.

Crash.net:
Both you and AJ have run up near the front on a number of occasions so you must feel like RuSPORT will be near the front for the rest of the season.

Justin Wilson:
I think we can be. We showed that in Portland and it's a shame we got a DNF there because we were running at the front and who knows how many points we could have scored from that. We just have to move on and try and make the most of every opportunity which is what we did this weekend. We weren't the quickest car in the first half of the race but we kept hanging in and pushing and the race gets turned around and things happen in your favour.

Crash.net:
You've taken this win while most of the focus of British motor sport fans has been on the Grand Prix at Silverstone.

Is Formula One somewhere you want to be, do you still hanker after a return to F1?

Justin Wilson:
At the minute no, I'm very happy here in Champ Cars. I really enjoy the racing and the environment, I like being part of RuSPORT and in the short term I don't see my career changing. Formula One is what it is, but this is where I want to go racing.

Crash.net:
And you must now feel like this justifies the decision you made to go to the States.

Justin Wilson:
Yeah I didn't have the funds to try and find a ride in F1 so I had to look elsewhere. I'd nearly taken this route the year before and when the Formula One door closed I opted to jump across here. I'd been watching Champ Car, or CART since Nigel [Mansell] came across here and I always loved the fact that you can actually these cars.

Crash.net:
Justin, congratulations again and may this win be the first of many.

Justin Wilson:
Thanks very much, I hope to speak to you again soon.


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