CHAMPCAR/CART: Mercedes-Benz Cleveland and French GP report

FedEx Championship Series Report Brazilian Roberto Moreno got his first win in the FedEx Championship Series today at the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland on the 2.106-mile Burke Lakefront Airport temporary racing circuit. At 41, Moreno is...

FedEx Championship Series Report

Brazilian Roberto Moreno got his first win in the FedEx Championship Series today at the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland on the 2.106-mile Burke Lakefront Airport temporary racing circuit. At 41, Moreno is now the oldest CART driver to get his first win.

Moreno, who won from the pole position, was known as "super sub" until the start of this season, because much of his CART career has been spent substituting for other drivers. This is his first season of full-time racing, driving for Patrick Racing.

Mercedes-Benz's own substitute driver, Bryan Herta, piloting the Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Champ Car for the injured Brazilian Tony Kanaan, earned a top-10 finish despite having contact with another car at the very start of the race. Kanaan expects to return to his duties behind the wheel at the Michigan 500 July 23, which comes the week after the Molson Indy Toronto July 16.

Mercedes One-Two at French GP

The best news of the day for Mercedes came from France, where Formula One drivers David Coulthard, of Scotland, and Mika Hakkinen, of Finland, finished one-two for Mercedes-Benz at the French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours to close on German Michael Schumacher and the Ferrari team in the drivers' and manufacturer's championship races.

Coulthard's ninth-career win (and his third this season) has brought him within 12 points of Schumacher in the drivers' championship, and Mercedes-Benz is now only six points behind Ferrari in the manufacturer's championship battle.

Cleveland CART Woes

Herta's ninth-place finish at Cleveland was remarkable considering the American had to make a pit stop right after the start of the race when 11 Champ Cars tangled in the first turn after the green flag. Leaving his pit following replacement of the front wing, Herta committed a pit-lane speed violation and was required to go to the back of the pack for the restart.

The race, which saw only two more full-course caution periods, took a toll on Herta's stamina. "Not being in a car for five races, and then doing two very difficult races (Portland and Cleveland) back-to-back was really hard," said Herta, who finished ninth. "I've been running and working out, but nothing can take the place of seat time to get you ready for racing.

"At the start, there was a lot going on and it was hard to see. They modified the front straight just for the start of the race, and the result was that instead of everybody being spread out, we were all tight wheel-to-wheel and nose-to-tail. A couple of cars touched, and then it was a chain reaction. Everybody was going everywhere."

Brazil's Mauricio Gugelmin, driver of the PacWest Racing/Nextel/Mercedes-Benz, was able to avoid the first-turn problems thanks to his third-place starting position. In fact, he passed Michael Andretti to take second place at the start of the race. He eventually dropped back in the field, though, and on lap 86 he was hit from behind by Gil de Ferran as the pair entered turn three. De Ferran, suffering from braking problems, was unable to avoid Gugelmin, who had just passed him for position.

"That was a hard hit," said Gugelmin, who recovered to finish 10th. "It spun the car completely around, but I got it back going again. I was losing the brakes late in the race myself."

England's Mark Blundell benefited greatly from the incident at the start of the race, gaining five spots to move from 16th to 11th. But Blundell went off course while trying to pass Dario Franchitti on lap 12 and impacted the tire barrier in turn five. Though forced to stop for a new front wing as a result, Blundell was able to continue.

"We had a little bit of an issue with ride height," said Blundell, who finished 12th in the PacWest Racing/Motorola Mercedes-Benz. "I made an error and locked up the brakes. We fought back and salvaged a point, but it was a lot of work and effort for one point."

Brazil's Luiz Garcia Jr. was 20th in the Arciero Project Racing/Hollywood/ Mercedes-Benz after a break in the connection between the primary and secondary exhaust system caused a small fire on his Champ Car on lap 17 and he retired from the race.

Herdez/Bettenhausen Motorsports/Mercedes-Benz driver Michel Jourdain Jr. was one of the drivers caught up in the first-lap accident. His Champ Car suffered enough damage that the Mexican was unable to continue. Jourdain was listed in 22nd position in the final standings.

<pre> Race Results, Cleveland Grand Prix Burke Lakefront Airport, Cleveland, Ohio July 2, 2000

Pos.    Driver              Engine          Laps
1       Roberto Moreno      Ford            100
2       Kenny Brack         Ford            100
3       Cristiano da Matta  Toyota          100
4       Michael Andretti    Ford            100
5       Patrick Carpentier  Ford            100
6       Juan Montoya        Toyota          100
7       Adrian Fernandez    Ford            100
8       Jimmy Vasser        Toyota          100
9       Bryan Herta         Mercedes-Benz   100
10      Mauricio Gugelmin   Mercedes-Benz   100
12      Mark Blundell       Mercedes-Benz   98
20      Luiz Garcia Jr.     Mercedes-Benz   17
22      Michel Jourdain Jr. Mercedes-Benz   1

Driver's Championship Manufacturer's Championship

Roberto Moreno          90              Ford                96                  
Michael Andretti        68              Toyota              70  
Gil de Ferran           67              Honda               68
                                        Mercedes-Benz       19   

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About this article
Series Formula 1 , IndyCar
Drivers Michael Schumacher , David Coulthard , Mika Hakkinen , Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Bryan Herta , Kenny Brack , Mark Blundell , Cristiano da Matta , Michel Jourdain , Luiz Garcia , Mo Nunn
Teams Ferrari , Mercedes