Havoline driver da Matta retired from the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland with mechanical failure while leading; Lilly Driver Fittipaldi stopped on course while third. Winner: Patrick Carpentier 12th: Christian Fittipaldi (third when ...
Havoline driver da Matta retired from the Marconi Grand Prix of Cleveland with mechanical failure while leading; Lilly Driver Fittipaldi stopped on course while third.
Winner: Patrick Carpentier
12th: Christian Fittipaldi (third when stopped on course)
16th: Cristiano da Matta (led until pitted with mechanical problem)
CRISTIANO DA MATTA, #6 Havoline Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone:
"The car starting losing power so I came in and the team changed some electronics and I went back out but heard the same noise so we had to come back in and retire. It's a shame any time you have to stop racing for any reason. Of course I wish I could have finished the race but our car has been strong everywhere so we will come back at the next race and try to continue running strong. We won't know what the problem was until TRD (Toyota Race Development) looks at it in California but we believe it was a mechanical problem. We thought it was something electrical but we changed some electronics and it didn't help. It's a huge shame. I haven't made any mistakes, the Havoline team hasn't made any mistakes, the Toyota engine has been very reliable. What happened today was just one of those things that happens in racing. It's amazing how reliable the Toyota engine is. Luckily we had built a small lead so that if we ran into a problem like we did today, it wouldn't hurt us as much. It would have been much nicer to build on our points today though. The balance of the car was good and we were just running our own pace and concentrating on building a lead on second place. I'm not disappointed about not setting a new CART record with five straight wins. The streak doesn't mean anything to me - the Championship is my goal. I'm disappointed that we didn't score any points today and get closer to our goal."
· NOTES: Da Matta has won seven of past 11 CART events dating back to his first three-peat (Australia and Fontana in 2001 and Mexico in 2002) where he became the first driver to accomplish the feat since Juan Montoya (1999). After leading 30 laps and building a strong lead in Long Beach, a pit accident derailed his bid for a CART record-tying fourth consecutive win. Wins in Laguna Seca, Portland, Chicago and Toronto enabled him to tie two others (Unser, Jr., and Zanardi) with a CART record fourth consecutive win. A win in Cleveland WOULD HAVE been his eighth in the past 11 races as well as a new CART record. Was his fourth CHAMP car race here. Scored his first CART podium of 3rd place here in 2000 after dropping to the back of the field after a Lap 1, Turn 1 incident. Finished 20th in 1999 due to suspension damage. Finished 7th in 2001 after looking likely to win his (then) first CART pole due to running the fastest time on Friday but rain in the "fast group" of qualifying on Saturday dropped his starting position to 19th. He is currently leading the standings with a total of 120 points.
CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone:
"We gave away a third place finish today which really hurts because it would have put us second in the Championship. The disappointment from this one will take a while to get over."
CRAIG HAMPSON, Race Engineer for the #11 Lilly Toyota-Lola-Bridgestone:
"We're not 100 percent sure but by all appearances we ran the car out of fuel. All of our calculations said we had enough fuel."
NOTES: Was his eighth race in Cleveland. Today was his highest start. His highest previous start was fifth place in 1997 where he also scored his highest finish of sixth place although a win was possible (see below). Finished 11th in 2001; ran in 3rd in 2000 before his engine blew near the end of the race; had a strong car in 1999 before he spun in the pits during a torrential downpour while trying to get rain tires; was leading in 1998 when a caution period came out but a radio malfunction forced him to miss his pit stop; was leading in 1997 when his airjack broke and caused slow pit stops. Led a total of 23 laps. A third place finish WOULD HAVE put him SECOND in the Championship standings to his teammate da Matta but he dropped from fifth to seventh place in the point standings, only 62 points back from leader and teammate Cristiano da Matta.