We talk to Roberto Gonzalez about Montreal

 by Jose Arrambide
August 31, 2004

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JJust like after the Montreal race, we had a little chat with Roberto Gonzalez, driver for the PKV Racing Team. The idea was to have an inside view from one driver, race after race. And since Roberto agreed to do this for AutoRacing1, I was the chosen one. This was definitely the strangest interview I ever had. After the race I went to a bullfight, and just before the event, I talked with Roberto. I can say my day was full of excitement!

The first thing I wanted to know was what were Roberto's emotions after the race. He said, "I feel somewhat frustrated. We struggled with the car all weekend. On Sunday we decided to change the setup. In fact, both cars (Gonzalez and Vasser) had the same setup on Sunday. We were ready to do some great times. Both Jimmy and I had some troubles during the race. There was a moment during the race where I was battling with Michel just before the problems, and Michel ended up with a good finish. I think I could have finished next to him."

I was curious about getting his feedback on the car. After all, my goal is to get to know, along with AutoRacing1 readers, the feeling of being inside the car. "As I said before, we used the same setup. Every time we use the same setup, both cars seem to improve a lot. I felt that my car was quicker on Sunday, although I had some problems with the front traction. I was constantly losing contact with my front tires and the ground. And I had a lot of trouble with the clutch. It was nothing like the last race, but troubles nevertheless. But all in all, my car was much better on Sunday. I really think I could have done better than 10th," said Roberto.

Roberto Gonzalez

Then I asked Roberto to share the highlights of the race with us. "I started way back on the grid. Fifteenth position is not where you want to start a race, so I had to work from there. I started doing some great times; in fact I was almost par with Jimmy. If you compare his best lap with my best lap, I was very close. I started to improve my position. There were a few incidents that helped. When I was battling Michel I knew I had a very good car. Unfortunately, my pit strategy was not the best. I entered one lap before the rest of the drivers in my pack, especially Michel. On this particular track, it is very important to stay on the track as long as you can. Every lap you enter before the other drivers hurts you very much . Then I had some traffic exiting the pits. That second pit stop really hurt me. And then all the trouble began. When Tagliani locked his brakes, I also locked mine and I hit the curbs really bad. The impact was so hard that my headphones popped out, so I lost communication with my crew. I had to receive all orders and information from the pit board. You lose a lot of feedback, but that wasn't the worst part. The cable from the headphones got stuck in my HANS Device. I couldn't move my head, and I couldn't see very well in the curves," said Roberto.

So I asked Roberto if he thought 10th place was a bad position to finish. He said, "Yes and no. Yes, because I had a very good car. And there were a lot of DNFs. No, because of all the trouble I had with the car. I think I could have managed a 7th place finish, but finishing the race is very good. I think that after Tagliani, who has finished every race, I'm the driver with more laps completed. I'm not sure about that, but I'm either 2nd or 3rd."

I wanted Roberto to comment about his performance against the other rookies. I told him that he is generally doing better times than Philippe and Mazzacane. Roberto said, "I'm not a fan of comparisons. Everyone has different circumstances, but to be honest I don't think I'm in the group with Philippe and Mazzacane. I like to think I'm with Justin and A.J., the difference being that both have different situations than me. For example, A.J. is with a team that really knows him. He has worked with the same crew for almost two years. He knows a lot of the tracks and it shows. Justin has a lot of experience and is with a team that has more than one year operating a 2-car team. But what I can assure you is that next year PKV Racing will be there. We will have gained the experience and cohesion other teams already have. We are a great team and we will get the results. We started the season very well. We have lost momentum, but we will get it back."

Then I asked Roberto to tell me about the next race at Laguna Seca. "Indeed this race is over and we have to look at the next race. I'm very confident. We did a lot of testing there and we had great times, especially Jimmy. So I'm sure we won't struggle that much with the setup. We need to start qualifying in the top ten places, and I believe we can do that in the next race. It's all about having the correct setup. With the information we have gathered on this track, we can get a very good setup," said Roberto.

I finished the interview asking Roberto if he had anything he would like to add. "I just want to say that I will improve in the next races, and I have my sights set on the Mexico City race. It's my country and I want to have a great race. I want to thank PKV Racing and especially Nextel for their support this year. Please send my regards to all the AutoRacing1 readers," said Roberto.

So I went back to my seat and enjoyed the bullfight. But my afternoon was already a good one. There's nothing like talking racing with someone who knows all about it.

The author can be contacted at feedback@autoracing1.com

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