KV Racing Q&A from Indy

Sebastien Bourdais
Sebastien Bourdais

Drivers/Team Members
Sebastien Bourdais
Jimmy Vasser
Brett Murray
Matt Brabham
Stefan Wilson

Friday, May 20, 2016

Team owner Jimmy Vasser, and drivers Sebastien Bourdais, No. 11 Team Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet, Matthew Brabham, No. 61 PIRTEK Team Murray KVRT Racing Chevrolet and Stefan Wilson, No. 25 Driven2savelives – KVRT Chevrolet met with members of the media at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Full Transcript:

MODERATOR: KV Racing Technology joins us. Jimmy Vasser, of course, Brett Murray, and we've got a couple of very talented young drivers in Matt Brabham and Stefan Wilson and Sebastien Bourdais, one of the most talented open-wheel drivers of our time, have joined us here.

Jimmy, exciting time and you've got an exciting group of drivers. You've got some youngsters and a wily veteran. You're shaking your head.

JIMMY VASSER: The lineage that we have with the lineup with Matt and Stefan and obviously Sebastien, four-time champion, it's pretty deep, probably the deepest we've ever had in our team. It's exciting, exciting to see the young guys get out there and experience what they've been licking their chops to do for all these years.

We've still got some work to do, just like everybody else. It's not easy, and we'll see how it goes today.

MODERATOR: Mr. Murray, talk to us about the guy right there to your left and how your work has been.

BRETT MURRAY: It's been a great experience. We had a choice of where we wanted to go and it was always — top of the list was KV because of our relationship with Jimmy and Kevin. We had a long-term personal relationship. Everything they provided to us has been first class, lap after lap, and they've not saying anything — we knew we'd go there and get the right equipment and right the deal. They've done everything, more so, than has been asked of them. So first, that's been great. The cooperation from IndyCar and the Speedway, some of the things they've done have been terrific. That's helped us make matters comfortable as we possibly can.

I've personally had a long-term relationship with the Brabham family and our goal was to always get Matt here and to run those two races. The second one here, and that's the question is where we go from here.

We're just concentrating on next weekend and next week and they've been out, made a sponsor come out — a great job, formulated the CK crew with the Chris Kyle Frog Foundation. Those guys arrived in town today. They're in a training session as we speak. They got two every day for the takeaway competition next Friday, it's all pretty good as part of our program. That's off track.

We're just here trying to keep Matt focused on what he's doing. He's got more time in the car than most I've seen. He's doing a terrific job; we couldn't ask more from him. So far, so good. It's been a wonderful experience. And if this kid on the left keeps doing his job, we'll be happy.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]MODERATOR: Matt, I'm curious, what was your first trip to the Speedway ever? This is what we do to you, see? We try to get you all —

MATT BRABHAM: I think my first experience was in 2012 when I first came over here and raced in USA2000. I was completely blown away. My grandfather and my dad told me stories, but it's one of those things that you can't physically describe to someone and make them truly understand what it's like, the month of May, until you live it and breathe it yourself. So that was the first time, and ever since then, I'm doing everything I can to be around it and be a part of it and be in the race one day.

MODERATOR: Interesting roots with Indianapolis, Sir Jack actually ran midgets at one point in his career. We also have experience in both the Brickyard 400 and the Indianapolis 500 in your family. That's really something.

BRABHAM: Yeah, it's pretty cool to be a part of that. It's kind of an honor, I think. Just thinking back, the real first memory was in 2012, but I just remembered that I actually came to the inaugural Brickyard 400 with my dad when he raced in it, and I was in baby clothes and I think I was six months old. I had a little race car onesie, and that was kind of my first experience, but I did not have any memory or recollection because I was so young.

MODERATOR: We also get people on that trivia question, by the way.

Stefan, I'm very curious about your reception and how people received you. You come here with a great anticipation, a lot of interest in how you do. How has it been for you?

STEFAN WILSON: It's been great. All the fans have been really supportive. It's great to be working with such a great team, KV Racing Technology, all of my career. I've been working so hard all month to get the car ready. It only came out of the paint shop a week ago Thursday. So — two weeks agoon Thursday. They really had to work really hard to get it ready for on track for Monday.

Also to be working with Matt and to be working with Sebastien here as well; they're two great teammates here to have. Just trying to learn as much as possible and make the right decisions.

MODERATOR: Sebastien, you've come up the ranks. You have to empathize with these young guys. They've worked very hard to get to this level; Jimmy as well. Then you blink your eye and people start talking about you as a veteran. What's that like? And what's it like working with young and eager guys?

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS: You know, the 500 is always a very special venue for everybody, and it's a tough place. So I've been here now, it's the sixth time. I try and provide as much help as I can and settle things down when need be. But there's only so much you can do, obviously, and just answer questions and try and point them in the right direction.

But they got it figured out pretty quickly. They went through ROP, no problem, and from there it was kind of smooth sailing. It's just a matter of getting the car where we want it to be. As a group the good thing is that all three cars have been pretty much been fighting the same problem. So hopefully once we put a finger on the solution, it will be a definite fix for everyone.

MODERATOR: We often hear from the people who are here the first time — I'm interested in hearing from the younger guys — is that the wind is the thing that constantly throws them off, dealing with the changing wind patterns. Has that been your experience here in the early going?

WILSON: Definitely. Every time coming down the straight you look for the windsock or flags to get an idea if the wind has changed or not. It definitely affects the balance. I think Monday morning the car was feeling pretty good. We came back out, went to the pad, made some changes, came back out and the wind totally switched direction. That affects the handling and at the same time you've made a setup change. So you're trying to evaluate what is the wind and what is the setup change.

MODERATOR: You had that experience as well, Matt?

BRABHAM: I think everyone has. It's the same track for everyone, so when it changes, everyone has to keep up with it. It definitely helps having the experience on team with Seb. I grew up on the Gold Coast watching him win all those races there in the Champ Car days, and that was pretty cool, and now I'm sitting next to him as a teammate, it's special.

He's doing a good job, as he said before, pointing us in the right direction, and having that experience and having the three cars to judge with those conditions helps. Working as a team together, I think we're doing a great job. As long as we can keep working forward and judging the conditions and learning the track, then we'll be all right in the future.

MODERATOR: We'll open it up to questions.

Q: Matt, describe the pressure on you having a father and grandfather that performed here. Do you feel any pressure to perform well?

BRABHAM: There's no pressure whatsoever. I get asked that question a lot. At the end of the day, I'm just my own person. Sure, I'm part of a great family and they've accomplished some great things, but that doesn't add any pressure on me at all. I'm trying to part my own way, and if I'm successful, I'm successful. If I'm not, I'm not. It's not a big deal. I'm just enjoying what I'm doing and happy to be a race car driver.

Yes, I want to win and I want to add some more accolades to the family, but no pressure. If not, it's probably better because they understand racing and they're not the typical racing — sporting family, you know, soccer kind of dads or football dads where they put extra pressure on their kids to do well. Dad is very supportive and understands how much pressure all of us drivers put on ourselves anyways. So there's no pressure.

Q: Question for you, Matt. Your father raced here, it was a different time, different era, different cars. Nevertheless, the first time you stepped into IndyCar cockpit, did you get some advice from him?

BRABHAM: Absolutely. Dad has been with me every step of the way. My dad has been kind of my main base of support and advice and coaching and learning all through go-karting all the way up to today. He's been here ten times and very experienced as well. So I'm leaning on him a lot. He's been great in that sense.

My grandfather, his three words of advice are always "Get after them." So I got the simplified version. And also, Dad is going to help me every step of the way.

MODERATOR: Questions for the group?

Q: Sebastien, a question for you with the two young drivers. What have you told them to expect about here at the Indianapolis 500 qualifying and race? Overall what advice have you given them so far?

BOURDAIS: So far we only focused on the race trim and getting the car comfortable and good in traffic. I think we made a pretty big step forward yesterday, so hopefully they can enjoy that on Monday.

But as far as qualifying, you just got to go with your own feelings, and there is really nothing you can say to anyone. Patience and the trim list is key, you just don't want to go rolling out there with no downforce and, you know, take chances. That's the last thing they need to do and even we.

It's just all you can do is make a big mistake and pay the full price for it, because, you know, we're not Penske or Ganassi. We can't roll out another car and just expect that it's going to be as fast. There's been a lot of work and hours to put these things together, so we'll try to keep them unscratched. I think that's the keyword of the day, patience, and take your time running through the day and, you know, always think twice before you get into Turn 1 and keep your foot down. Make sure you get a good read on the balance and go from there.

Obviously the conditions are ideal, the wind is fairly low, and it's overcast compared to yesterday when it got really hot track temp in the 120s. It should be quite a bit easier. But still you have to respect this place so much. It can bite you very, very quickly.

Q: Sebastien, question for you as well. Here you have two teammates, very young, but nevertheless two teammates. Is it easier to compare information compared to a single-car team?

BOURDAIS: It's not easy. It's not easy for anyone really because we've gone from one-car team to a three-car team. There's a lot of revolving pieces and personal around the organization. We've tried to focus on our things and tried to feed obviously what we think we found to the two other guys. And they've tried things on their own. Obviously Stefan had a couple of good things, and Matt as well. So it's always a two-way discussion. But the big thing is it's so easy to get lost already on your own, that you don't necessarily want to, you know, think too much about what's going on around you.

I think it's very important that through the day you kind of keep an open ear to just try and get the feedback, but in the meantime not try and get yourself too lost. It's very easy when you don't have a — setup is always a hole and you cannot — it's very difficult as soon as somebody goes a certain direction and then you make another change and you think that change is doing that, but it's not the same setup.

So it's very — I think it's also why this place is so difficult because it's all about details, and you need to be very cautious with what you think you understand from the changes.

Q: Can I ask you, Sebastien, how useful —

Obviously you're being a bit of a guide to Stefan and Matt, but how useful is their feedback to you yet at the moment? And also, is it easier to go three different directions or for you to all go in the same direction and then compare who wants what from the car?

BOURDAIS: Well, I think the engineers have been really good so far kind of being on the same map and starting with the same setups every day and trying different things, which tend to make it a little easier to compare our notes at the end of the day instead of if you have everybody on a different zip code.

But it's still them, you know, still obviously getting up to grips with the place and the traffic and the timing and the this and the that. I think we've really been fighting a lot of understeering in race trim in heavy traffic at least, and, you know, I think they've experienced probably the worst we've had it at the beginning. We kind of went back and forth. By the end of the day, I was the most comfortable I had been in quite some time. So like I said, hopefully they can benefit from that from what we think we've learned. Because you always need to be a little careful with what you think you know because the next day might not be true.

But I think we definitely made a step. I wouldn't say it's been super useful for the moment to be a three-car team because it's been so new and nobody really knows each other. But you can still compare notes and look at data and at least you've got a different read on things.

But you also need to make sure that all, you know, the setups were exactly the same and that the pad was the same and that the zeroes were made at the same time in the data. That's why I'm saying you need to be careful with what you think you understand. It's easy to think what you know and it's not really happening. So we've really been focusing on our own thing, but I did catch a couple of things.

At the Grand Prix Matt tried something which ended up what needed to be done with the car and Stefan did something yesterday which we benefited from as well. Every now and then you'll hit the lucky little change and it works.

Q: Stefan, talk about the speeds that you now have to adjust to going 225, up beyond that, how you adapt to it, how quickly.

WILSON: Who was that for? For me?

MODERATOR: Yeah.

WILSON: Yeah. So, the first day it was a bit of an eye-opener. Going down the front stretch, reached 220. The first laps it was definitely like, wow, amazing how quickly you cover a certain amount of distance compared to an Indy Lights car around here. The first day was a big eye-opener. We get out of the car, take a moment and get back in and the second run kind of slows down.

I expect today the first few laps with the extra boost, it's going to be, again, a bit of an eye-opener, but then we will gradually get used to it and we'll be trimming out downforce as the day goes on as well. So for sure there's definitely going to be adjusting your entry into the corners because you're just going to be arriving a little bit quicker. And that's going to adjust — that's going to affect the handling as well.

Listening to Seb and his engineer on how that can affect the handling has been good advice. I think that's allowed me to sort of think about it in my head before I go out there and know what to kind of expect.

So, yeah, it's definitely going to affect it a little bit.

Q: Matthew, when you think of the hundredth running of this race, your grandfather probably left the biggest legacy that continues today with the rear-engine car. When you think of that, how do you try to keep all of that in perspective? Because before the Cooper-Climax, everything was front engine.

BRABHAM: Yeah, it's definitely one of the things, the more I've been around it and been a part of the 500, the more appreciation has grown that I've had for certainly the things that have happened here. Especially my dad, here ten times, and then obviously the stuff with the rear-engine cars. I think it's one of those things it's really cool to be part of, and I'm just honored.

I'm trying to block most of those things out for the race and concentrate on just what I'm doing. But every now and again I kind of step back and look back at it all and think this is all pretty cool, the 100th running — all the stars aligned, my rookie year, the 100th running, the history that goes behind that. And the generations that go into the race and the families that have been in it, it's all really, really cool.

We're obviously looking at the 100th but also we're looking at the future moving forward.

Q: How often have you gone over and looked at the 61 car, the Cooper-Climax?

BRABHAM: We're going to have that car come out and do a photo shoot on Tuesday. We're going to have my Dad's car, my grandfather's car, and my car out for a photo opportunity, so that should be pretty cool to have all the three different cars, and we've got some cool retro things along with that. I've driven a couple of Brabhams over the years and Cooper-Climaxes, but not the Indy one yet.

MURRAY: The original 61 is coming from California, and hopefully we'll have a chance for him to have a steer of it over the weekend sometime with the veteran guys or the vintage cars.

MODERATOR: One of the things that's going to be unique is that the race is sold out. Scott Goodyear once told me the piece of advice he was given as a rookie is when you come out on Race Day, don't look up. His wife grabs his hand, he looks up, and he sees a crowd and he can't believe what he sees. That's an issue.

The other issue is the race track looks different. Your visual points that you see are all going to be different when the stands are full of people. Has that been discussed? Have you already discussed how differently this is going to look when you get out there in race situations?

BOURDAIS: I think so far we've taken it one step at a time. We haven't done qualifying yet, so we're going to keep the challenges in check and trying to tackle them one by one (Laughter).

MODERATOR: I apologize.

BOURDAIS: I think Jimmy will have a good speech for that day. It was definitely an experience my first time. The perspective, the the way you arrive in Turn 1 and what it looks like when those stands are filled is definitely a very different grasp from the whole racetrack where you've been practicing, especially now that maybe we don't get as big a crowd as we used to during the lead up to the race. That really changes very much the perception.

Q: Stefan, how much do you remember Max in the karting paddock? He was never in the same class as you, but he was coming up through the karting paddock, and he remembers you. But he said you were a couple of categories up.

WILSON: Chilton, yeah? Many years in karting in the UK and he was — yeah, probably a year or two younger than me. We never actually raced against each other in go-karts. I think when we moved into single-seaters, we did a year in Formula Three and we were both in the same year in Formula Three, so.

Q: What do you recall about him?

WILSON: Yeah, he's a great driver. He's got a lot of accolades in his career. He managed to make it all the way to Formula One, so that's pretty impressive. I really admire what he did by coming over to the States and not just going straight to IndyCar, but actually coming down to Indy Lights, taking a year in Indy Lights, and then progressing up to IndyCar. I think that was a really smart move for him and I think it's showing the experience he's been able to get in Indy Lights on the ovals, compared to other years where drivers from Europe just come straight into IndyCar. It's allowed him to progress really well as a driver on the ovals.

MODERATOR: Thank you very much for coming in. Appreciate it. Good luck.

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