Christiano da Matta drove to his first Champ Car victory in the PPI Motorsports Toyota Reynard at the Chicago Speedway this weekend. Da Matta's victory is the eighth for Reynard this season, after 12 rounds of this year's Championship. Gil de Ferran, driver of the Marlboro Team Penske Honda Reynard also recorded a podium finish, with third place behind Series leader, Michael Andretti. In the Japanese Formula Nippon Championship, Taronusake Takagi took his fifth win of the year in the Reynard 2KL at the Sugo Circuit, the sixth round of the Championship. Reynard has won all six events and with four rounds remaining, has an unassailable lead over G Force, the only other constructor contesting the Series.
Cristiano da Matta, Pioneer/MCI WorldCom Toyota Reynard said after the Champ Car race, "It wasn't an easy race for me. The last restart was the part where I was most relaxed in the car. I was able to get a big lead and I just concentrated on trying to control it. The run before my first pit stop, the car was really loose; I wasn't really expecting that. After I pitted, I had a very clear track ahead of me and I was able to go at almost qualifying pace, while those guys [the other contenders] were in traffic. That was the key to the race for me. It's been almost two years since my last win and it's good to refresh in your mind what it is to win a race. I was never really worried about getting my first win. I knew we were always running in the top five and my experience is that if you can run consistently in the top five, one day the door will open. Everything fell my way today."
Gil de Ferran, Penske Honda Reynard added, "It was a great day. The weekend started a bit slowly, but last night, we sat down for a couple of hours and had a long, deep think about what we wanted to do, and this morning, the car was very, very good. We just held our own, and the day turned out to be very, very good. My finger was all right; the only thing I had to be careful of was not to bang it on anything in the cockpit."
<pre> Chicago Round 12 of FedEx Championship Series
1 Cristiano da Matta Toyota Reynard Firestone 2 Michael Andretti Ford Lola Firestone 3 Gil de Ferran Honda Reynard Firestone 4 Kenny Brack (R) Ford Reynard Firestone 5 Adrian Fernandez Ford Reynard Firestone 6 Roberto Moreno Ford Reynard Firestone 7 Mauricio Gugelmin Mercedes Reynard Firestone 8 Jimmy Vasser Toyota Lola Firestone 9 Alexandre Tagliani (R) Ford Reynard Firestone 10 Memo Gidley Toyota Reynard Firestone 11 Michel Jourdain Jr. Mercedes Lola Firestone 12 Juan Montoya Toyota Lola Firestone
Drivers Championship Standings
1 Michael Andretti 120 2 Roberto Moreno 98 3 Gil de Ferran 89 4 Cristiano da Matta 82 5 Paul Tracy 80 6 Adrian Fernandez 79 7 Kenny Brack 78 8 Juan Montoya 77 9 Jimmy Vasser 68 10 Patrick Carpentier 65 11 Dario Franchitti 58 12 Helio Castroneves 56 Constructors Championship Reynard 235 Lola 191 Swift 5