As the 2003 Champ Car World Series heads into a final stretch of four races in six weeks, Team Rahal's Michel Jourdain Jr finds himself facing the 'Gigante' task of catching the championship frontrunners Paul Tracy and Bruno Junqueira.

The Mexican enters this week's Grand Prix Americas trailing Tracy by 39 points and Junqueira by 21 and, with four races and a maximum of 91 points left, knows that wins and podium results are crucial to a fading championship bid.

"We are at the point of the year where we can't afford not to be on the podium this week if we are to have a hope of winning the championship," Jourdain confirmed, "There are only four races to go and we have to score as many points as possible at every race.

"However, even if we win this week, we still need trouble to find Paul and Bruno. I can't control what happens to them, though, so I can only focus on the Gigante team and what we have to do to guarantee our own success. I said earlier in the year that the points we missed out on a Long Beach and Portland would hurt us, and now we are seeing the effect of those missed opportunities."

Jourdain has amassed what would, in most seasons, be a championship-calibre campaign, posting a career best 165 points through the first 15 races and winning a pair of events heading into this weekend's Miami round. He remains on course to post 200 points this season - a figure that, in four of the past ten seasons, would have been good enough to take the title. This season, however, Tracy, Junqueira and Jourdain are all on pace to surpass the 200 point plateau.

Last season, Jourdain ran a strong race at Miami, finishing sixth, a handful of places behind 2002 team-mate Jimmy Vasser.

"The Miami track is a short narrow course, so qualifying well will be critical to being successful," the Mexican revealed, "We had a really good car at Miami last year and Jimmy ended up on the podium, so I know we have a good set-up going into the weekend. We just have to take advantage of what we already know and improve the car.

"To be honest, I am really looking forward to this weekend after a few weekends off. It will be good to get back into the car. The atmosphere around the Grand Prix Americas last year was fantastic, and I am sure with an entire year of planning it will be even better."

 

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