IndyCar's Servia feels like a Canadian
Oriol Servia has come so close so many times to winning the Honda Indy Toronto one might conclude he is snake bitten when it comes to the Exhibition Place temporary street course.
Servia doesn’t think so.
The 36-year-old Spaniard thinks just the opposite. He said on Wednesday that Toronto is one of the tracks on the IZOD IndyCar schedule where he is, in fact, very good.
The record reflects Servia’s confidence that he can do well at the Honda Indy.
He has four top 10 finishes in seven races in Toronto, including a second place finish in 2005 behind winner Justin Wilson.
“A place like Toronto where I have been close many, many times makes me feel like I am good at it,” Servia said. “I was just looking at the stats. I have led lots and lots of laps the last three times I raced here.”
Servia led for 60 of the 85 laps during the ‘05 race but couldn’t finish the job, something he did do that season winning the Indy race in Montreal.
“In 2005 I led like 60 laps in Toronto,” he said. “But I never led the last lap. In Montreal I think I only led four laps but I led the one that counted, which is the last one.”
Servia said the Exhibition Place layout is one of the hardest to win at in all of the IndyCar circuits. He said with the change in track surface from asphalt to concrete and back to asphalt on several of the tracks’ 11 corners makes it a difficult place to get around, let alone make passes.
“Toronto is just a tough place,” he said. “In 2006 I was leading but unfortunately Nelson Phillippe spun in front of me in Turn 3 and took me out.
“In ’07 again I was leading and it started raining when I got into Turn 3 and when I hit the concrete I was on slick tires and I crashed.”
Servia won’t use the jinx word, but he did note that seconds before he got to Turn 3 that day the sun was out and it came back out seconds after he crashed.
“I mean it stated raining out of the blue,” he said.
“In each of those races I had put myself in a position to win and then things happened,” he continued. “It is very difficult to win races at the best of times as competitive as our series is right now.”
Servia is back this year with Newman-Haas Racing in the No. 2 Telemundo Dallara Honda and that alone, he thinks, will give him a leg up on the competition come Sunday.
And he should feel that way. Newman-Haas has more victories — six alone with Michael Andretti behind the wheel — than any other Indy Car team.
“I am coming here comfortable that I know the place; that I know that if do things the right way I should be running up with the leaders,” he said.
Servia joked that if he considers his previous seven starts in Toronto as practice for finally winning he and the team should be counted as a favorite.
“As they say ‘practice makes perfect’ and it takes a lot of practice at leading to end up winning and then it takes a lot of practice at winning to become good at winning,” he said. “And we are getting there.
“We have shown that yes, we do have a car and team to be leading the race to the checkered flag but in no way is it a given.”
Servia said he will still need everything to go absolutely right for him to bring the No. 2 car home in first place even with his experience at the track.
“It will take a perfect weekend for us to be contenders but it is in our hands and nobody else’s to achieve it,” he said. “Basically unless you are having an almost perfect weekend you can forget about (thinking about) being up front. All we have to do is focus on doing our job 100%.”
And by the way, Servia, also thinks he should be lumped in with teammate James Hinchcliffe, Paul Tracy and Alex Tagliani as a Canadian, at least an honorary one for this race.
“My first time in Toronto was in 1998,” he said, “Right away I fell in love with the atmosphere and people. It is one of those races that you don’t mind coming to early or staying longer after the race. Actually it happened like that in 2004. I stayed for a few extra days and ended up buying a condo downtown that I still own.” Toronto Sun