6 July 2007
Q&A: Paul Tracy - EXCLUSIVE.
Champ Car veteran Paul Tracy has seen a lot of things in his lengthy career, but has encountered a tough start to 2007. He told Crash.net Radio's Craig Llewellyn about the highs and lows of the opening six races and openly discussed some of the season's more controversial issues....
Just looking back over the start of the season, it's been a bit of an up-and-down year for you so far?
It's been more than an up-and-down year, it's been a rollercoaster ride! It started out fine for us in Vegas, with a good result and everything going as well as we could have expected it to. We qualified on the front row, and pole on the first day. We had some issues in the race with fuel, but still ended up in a nice third position. Then, obviously, from there the season kind of unravelled. We went to Long Beach, suffered a broken vertebrae and had to miss eight weeks of racing. We came back at Portland and had a pretty disastrous weekend in terms of our car and set-up, but then went to Cleveland and had a win - and then Mont-Tremblant this last weekend was a disaster again for the team.
After you had the injury at Long Beach, how hard was it, mentally and physically, to bring yourself back from that?
It wasn't hard. Obviously, it is one of those things that happens, but one of the most frustrating things is that I only had a relatively small incident. No corners on the car were damaged, all that was damaged was the nose, but I suffered a compression fracture of one of the vertebrae. You sit there for eight weeks and wonder 'how did this happen? Was the seat right? Is this right? Was the car right?'. And then you see an accident like Robert Kubica's in Montreal and that guy walks away from an incident like that and I have a very small incident [and am sidelined]. It can be a little frustrating, but that's kinda the cards I was dealt.
Is it the sort of thing to make you consider retirement or took look somewhere else?
No. It's easy for anyone to stop when things get difficult, but all it's done is motivate me to get better. This season has been.... you know, we've gotten a win but, for most of the season, it hasn't gone well. But everybody works together as a team, and I've been fortunate enough to win a lot of races in my career. When it gets hard is when you have to buckle down and do the best you can. Like I said, I've been fortunate to win a lot of races and you're always going to lose a lot more races in your career than you're going to win, so that one win in Cleveland can make up for a hundred bad races.
Of course, an afternoon like you had in Cleveland, where you had an amount of luck on your side, can make you a whole lot more positive?
For sure it can. We need to have some good luck and we were fortunate enough to have some that day, but I think what showed on the day is that you had to have the pace to stay up front and not get passed by the quicker cars that were behind you, and, when we got to the front, we had the pace to do that. If we can get our team in order and figure out this car, I know that I can win races.
What do you make of the new Panoz and the reliability - or lack of reliability in some cases - that you've had with that and the Cosworth engine?
We haven't had any major reliability problems with the car itself. We had some fuelling problems, which everybody had, but that has been addressed and the car is now fuelling properly and quickly and effectively. We haven't really had any major problems with the car, not anything out of the norm. This past weekend we had an engine failure, which isn't really anything to do with the car itself. There are always little areas that we want to work on but, as a whole, I think the car has done a pretty good job this year.
You've been in Champ Car for quite a few years now, but there is something of a 'changing of the guard' going on, with a lot of younger drivers coming in and lot of European drivers....
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