CHAMPCAR/CART: Carpentier unscathed after Laguna Seca incident

Monterey, California, September 8, 2000 Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani clocked the 14th- and 18th-fastest times in today's first qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Monterey, the 16th race on the Fed EX CART ...

Monterey, California, September 8, 2000 Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani clocked the 14th- and 18th-fastest times in today's first qualifying session for the Grand Prix of Monterey, the 16th race on the Fed EX CART Championship schedule.

Near the end of the qualifying session for the first group, Carpentier's car slid off course and vaulted both the tire barrier and the fence and came to rest upside down. Carpentier emerged from the car under his own power but was placed on a stretcher and taken to the CART medical centre by ambulance. Doctors discovered no injuries and gave Carpentier clearance to drive.

"I feel a little sore in the neck, and when I landed it stretched my back, but other than that I'm fine," said Carpentier, whose incident occurred shortly after he had put in a fast lap of 1 minute, 9.212 seconds (115.849 mph), which boosted him into third place in his group.

Describing the incident, Carpentier stated: "I was coming down into corner four looking for a good line, and I saw Kenny Brack on the inside. I went on the outside of the straight, but I guess I must have put two wheels off. Then the car went backwards. After that, the first thing I remember is when it landed. It was quite a shock, but at that point I didn't know I was over the fence. I managed to partially pull myself from underneath the car and the safety crew did the rest."

The qualifying session for the second group was delayed for almost an hour while a meeting was conducted to discuss safety conditions. When qualifying resumed, Brazilian Helio Castroneves earned the provisional pole, covering the 2.238-mile course in a time of 1:07.722 (118.969 mph), while his teammate Gil de Ferran was second fastest in 1:07.823.

"I don't think this track is unsafe," declared Carpentier. "All the safety requirements are met, but there is a problem with the gravel pits. They don't seem to be graded properly. Anyway, I'm pleased that the doctor told me I could drive tomorrow. I'm ready for it."

Tagliani, who had climbed into fifth place among his group, with a fast lap of 1:09.994 at the time of his teammate's incident, said "this was a freak accident for Pat. When I saw the replay, I couldn't believe his head hadn't touched the top of the fence. It was that close."

Tagliani said that looseness in his car put him on the edge at each corner, making it difficult to handle. "Team Player's has a bit of work to make the car better, but we'll be there tomorrow," he vowed. "We have to balance the car so that we're able to put in two good laps on a set of tires."

Racing fans can track the progress of Team Player's all weekend by logging on to the team's web site at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the 83-lap Grand Prix of Monterey live on The Sports Network at 3:00 p.m. on Sunday.

<pre> Local time Eastern time Saturday, Sept. 9 CART practice 10:00 a.m. 11:15 a.m. 1:00 p.m. 2:15 p.m. CART qualifying 1:45 p.m. 2:15 p.m. 4:45 p.m. 5:15 p.m. CART qualifying 2:30 p.m. 3:00 p.m. 5:30 p.m. 6:00 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 10 CART warm-up 9:00 a.m. 9:30 a.m. noon. 12:30 p.m. CART race noon 3:00 p.m.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Alex Tagliani , Kenny Brack