CHAMPCAR/CART: Gold Coast Friday Track Notes

Honda Indy FedEx Championship Series Track Notes - Surfers Paradise, AUS, Friday(October 15, 1998) - Good morning and welcome to the opening day of practice and qualifying for Sunday's Round 18 of the FedEx Championship Series, the Honda...

Honda Indy FedEx Championship Series Track Notes -

Surfers Paradise, AUS, Friday(October 15, 1998) -

Good morning and welcome to the opening day of practice and qualifying for Sunday's Round 18 of the FedEx Championship Series, the Honda Indy. Today's CART on-track activities begin with a 90-minute practice session beginning at 10:30 a.m. The afternoon provisional qualifying session will take to the track at 2:30 p.m. and will be split into two groups with Group One comprised of the fastest drivers from the previous road course qualifying results. The Group Two session will take the Green Flag at 3:15 p.m. Each group session will last 30 minutes. The FedEx Championship Series drivers will be chasing the track qualifying record of 106.053 mph (1:34.877) set in 1994 by now-retired NIGEL MANSELL MANSELL also holds the race record with an average speed of 97.284 mph from the 1993 contest here at Surfers Paradise.

Today's weather has started out as unseasonably cool, with partly cloudy skies escorting a cool breeze off the Pacific Ocean just beyond the backstretch catch fence. Of course, the drivers will have no time to enjoy the scenery with speeds of over 170 mph in this section of the course! But no rain is in the forecast for today and all of the teams are enjoying the break in the usual heat and humidity of Surfers Paradise, Australia.

J. Kirk Russell, CART Vice President of Competition and Wally Dallenbach, CART Chief Steward, have announced that the official track length is 2.795 miles; as measured by Omega Timing, the official timers of the FedEx Championship Series. The race distance for Sunday's Honda Indy will be 65 laps or 181.675 miles.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:30 a.m. to start the first practice session of the weekend. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 118 degrees F. (48 C.) and an ambient temperature of 78 degrees F. (25 C.) at the start of the session. #27 FRANCHITTI is the first driver to log a lap in the weekend with a speed of 101.082 mph (1:39.543).

At 10:35 a.m., #20 PRUETT makes light contact with the wall at Turn 2 but continues on course without damage to the car.

RED FLAG waves at 10:37 a.m. after #20 PRUETT again makes contact with the tire wall at Turn 12. The contact dislodges some of the tires in the barrier which then spill into the racing line on the track. PRUETT pits the car with brake problems being reported by the crew to CART Race Control.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:39 a.m. to resume the practice session.

At 10:40 a.m., ten minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 101.107 mph (1:39.518), followed by #99 MOORE (96.974 mph; 1:43.760) and #7 RAHAL (91.649 mph; 1:49.788).

At 10:41 a.m., the BLACK FLAG is shown to #2 UNSER JR. as smoke appears at the rear of the car as UNSER JR. enters the backstretch portion of the track. UNSER JR. immediately pits his car with oil appearing at the bottom of the engine compartment.

RED FLAG waves at 10:43 a.m. for a track inspection after several drivers report oil in the racing line about the course.

At 10:50 a.m., 20 minutes into the session and under a full-course Red Flag, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 10:40 a.m. report.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:56 a.m. to resume the practice session.

At 11 a.m., 30 minutes into the practice session, the fastest driver is now #99 MOORE with a lap of 101.595 mph (1:39.040), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (101.107 mph; 1:39.518) and #12 VASSER (100.790 mph; 1:39.831).

RED FLAG waves at 11:04 a.m. after #26 TRACY makes contact with the tire barrier at Turn 10. TRACY is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains some damage to the right side. TRACY's crew readies the secondary car as CART safety workers tow the primary car back to the garage area.

At 11:10 a.m., 40 minutes into the session and under a full-course Red Flag, the fastest driver is now #1X ZANARDI with a lap of 104.109 mph (1:36.649), followed by #99 MOORE (103.834 mph; 1:36.905) and #6X ANDRETTI (102.939 mph; 1:37.747).

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:12 am. to resume the practice session.

RED FLAG waves at 11:17 a.m. after #40 FERNANDEZ makes contact with the tire barrier at Turn 11. FERNANDEZ is uninjured in the incident and CART safety workers get the car back to the garage area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:20 a.m. to resume the practice session. The fastest driver at this point of the session is #12 VASSER with a lap of 104.233 mph (1:36.534), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (104.207 mph; 1:36.558) and #1X ZANARDI (104.109 mph; 1:36.649).

RED FLAG waves at 11:23 a.m. after #3 RIBEIRO slides into the run-off at Turn 3 and stalls. RIBEIRO is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains right-side suspension damage. CART safety workers get the car into a safe location and RIBEIRO's crew prepares the secondary car for use in the rest of the practice session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:29 a.m. to resume the practice session.

At 11:30 a.m., one hour into the practices session, the fastest driver is still #12 VASSER with his earlier lap of 104.233 mph (1:36.534), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (104.207 mph; 1:36.558) and #1X ZANARDI (104.109 mph; 1:36.649).

At 11:35 a.m., #20 PRUETT bushes the wall with the right side of his car at Turn 4 but continues on-course without apparent damage to the car.

At 11:40 a.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #1 ZANARDI with a lap of 105.468 mph (1:35.403), followed by #40 FERNANDEZ (104.928 mph; 1:35.894) and #26X TRACY (104.712 mph; 1:36.092).

At 11:50 a.m., #1 ZANARDI is still the fastest driver with his earlier lap of 105.468 mph (1:35.403), followed by #5 DE FERRAN (105.214 mph; 1:35.634) and #40 FERNANDEZ (104.928 mph; 1:35.894).

At 11:58 a.m., #1X ZANARDI sets an unofficial track record of 106.227 mph (1:34.722), followed by #20 PRUETT (106.149 mph; 1:34.791). Official track records can only be set in qualifying attempts.

At 11:59 a.m., #33 CARPENTIER enters the run-off at Turn 3 and continues on-course without apparent damage to the car.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 12 p.m. with #1X ZANARDI logging an even faster lap of 106.320 mph (1:34.639), followed by #20 PRUETT (106.149 mph; 1:34.791) and #99 MOORE (105.687 mph; 1:35.206). There are 18 drivers with cars within two seconds of the fastest lap of the session and 10 cars within one second of ZANARDI's unofficial record-run. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 34 different cars to the track in this morning's practice session with secondary cars utilized by #1X ZANARDI, #26X TRACY, #6X ANDRETTI, #3X RIBEIRO, #9X LEHTO, and #36X BARRON. FedEx Championship Series drivers logged a total of 298 laps during this morning session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:30 p.m. to start the Group One qualifying session. #1X ZANARDI and #25 PAPIS are the first two cars to take to the track. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 123 degrees F (51 C.) and an ambient temperature of 87 degrees F (31 C.) at the start of the Group One session.

At 2:35 p.m., five minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #26X TRACY with a lap of 105.977 mph (1:34.945), followed by #99 MOORE (105.619 mph; 1:35.267) and #12 VASSER (104.874 mph; 1:35.944).

At 2:40 p.m., the fastest driver is now #1X ZANARDI with a lap of 107.949 mph (1:33.211), a new track record for the Surfers Paradise course, followed by #5 DE FERRAN (107.413 mph; 1:33.676) and #8 HERTA (107.392 mph; 1:33.694). The top ten drivers out of the 14 Group One drivers have broken NIGEL MANSELL's track record at this point of the qualifying session.

RED FLAG waves at 2:41 p.m. after #40 FERNANDEZ makes hard contact between Turns 7 and 8 with the right side of the car. FERNANDEZ is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains major damage to the right front suspension. FERNANDEZ's crew readies the secondary car to use for the rest of the session, but FERNANDEZ will receive the standard eight-minute penalty for delaying the qualifying session. CART safety workers tow the car back to the garage area.

At 2:45 p.m., 15 minutes into the Group One qualifying session and under a full-course Red Flag, the fastest drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 2:40 p.m. report.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:49 p.m. to resume the Group One qualifying session.

At 2:50 p.m., the top Group One drivers and speeds are unchanged from the 2:45 p.m. report.

At 2:55 p.m., the fastest driver is still #1X ZANARDI with his earlier lap of 107.949 mph (1:33.211), followed by #25 PAPIS (107.759 mph; 1:33.375) and #5 DE FERRAN (107.705 mph; 1:33.422).

At 2:58 p.m., #99 MOORE slide off course and takes a hard ride across the chicane at Turn 5 before coming back on-track. MOORE continues on-course at a slower speed.

At 2:59 p.m., #1X ZANARDI ups his track-record speed to 108.895 mph (1:32.401).

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3 p.m. with #1X ZANARDI setting another track-record speed of 109.002 mph (1:32.310), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (108.449 mph; 1:32.781) and #5 DE FERRAN (108.367 mph; 1:32.851). Thirteen of the fourteen Group One drivers bettered the existing track record 106.053 mph (1:34.877) set in 1994 by NIGEL MANSELL.

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:15 p.m. to start the Group Two qualifying session. #33 CARPENTIER is the first Group Two driver to take to the track.

At 3:19 p.m., #19X JOURDAIN JR. spins at Turn 12 but continues on-course with no apparent damage to the car.

BLACK FLAG is shown to #77 MEIER at 3:19 p.m. after course observers report fluid spraying from the car. MEIER immediately pits the car.

At 3:20 p.m., five minutes into the Group Two qualifying session, the fastest driver is #20 PRUETT with a lap of 107.014 mph (1:34.025; 14th-fastest overall), followed by #16 CASTRO-NEVES ( 105.699 mph; 1:35.195; 15th-fastest overall), and #33 CARPENTIER (106.996 mph; 1:34.041; 16th-fastest overall.)

RED FLAG waves at 3:22 p.m. after #20 PRUETT slides nose-first into the tire barrier at Turn 11. CART safety workers get the car restarted and PRUETT continues to his pit area. PRUETT receives the standard eight-minute penalty for delay of the qualifying session.

At 3:25 p.m. and under a full-course Red Flag, the fastest Group Two driver is #16 CASTRO-NEVES with a lap of 107.029 mph (1:34.012; 14th-fastest overall), followed by #20 PRUETT (107.014 mph; 1:34.025; 15th-fastest overall) and #33 CARPENTIER (106.996 mph; 1:34.041; 16th-fastest overall).

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:26 p.m. to resume the Group Two qualifying session.

At 3:29 p.m., #17 GUGELMIN spins at Turn 3 but continues on-course without damage to the car.

At 3:30 p.m., 15 minutes into the Group Two qualifying session, the fastest driver is #18 BLUNDELL with a lap of 107.248 mph (1:33.820; 11th-fastest overall), followed by #16 CASTRO-NEVES (107.029 mph; 1:34.012; 15th-fastest overall) and #20 PRUETT (107.014 mph; 1:34.025; 16th-fastest overall).

At 3:35 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group Two qualifying session, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 3:30 p.m. report.

At 3:40 p.m., 25 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest driver is #20 PRUETT with a lap of 107.851 mph (1:33.295; sixth-fastest overall), followed by #18 BLUNDELL (107.248 mph; 1:33.820; 12th-fastest overall) and #16 CASTRO-NEVES (107.029 mph; 1:34.012; 16th-fastest overall).

At 3:41 p.m., #19X JOURDAIN JR. runs off course at Turn 7 and takes a hard ride before coming back on-track. JOURDAIN JR. continues on course with no apparent damage to the car.

RED FLAG waves at 3:43 p.m. after #2 UNSER JR. spins at Turn 8 and makes contact with the wall, damaging the right front wheel. UNSER JR.'s car stalls in the racing lane. UNSER JR. is uninjured in the incident.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 3:43 p.m. as well since there will not be enough time to retrieve the UNSER JR. car from the track in the remaining two minutes of the session. #20 PRUETT is the fastest Group Two driver with a lap of 107.920 mph (1:33.236; sixth-fastest overall), followed by #18 BLUNDELL (107.248 mph; 1:33.820; 12th-fastest overall) and #16 CASTRO-NEVES (107.029 mph; 1:34.012; 16th-fastest overall).

ALEX ZANARDI sits on the provisional pole for Sunday's Honda Indy with his lap of 109.002 mph (1:32.310), shattering the existing track record. ZANARDI, the defending pole-sitter here at Surfers Paradise is chasing his 11th career pole. ZANARDI has not sat on the pole since VANCOUVER in 1997.

DARIO FRANCHITTI sits second on the provisional grid with his lap of 108.449 mph (1:32.781). FRANCHITTI is attempting to make his fourth consecutive front-row start. FRANCHITTI sat on the pole at Vancouver and started second at both Laguna Seca and Houston. If he stays on the front row after tomorrow's final round of qualifying, it will represent FRANCHITTI's ninth front-row start in the 18 races of the 1998 FEDeX Championship Series season.

GIL de FERRAN is third on the provisional grid by virtue of his 108.367 mph (1:32.851) speed. DE FERRAN is attempting to match or better his season-best start as he started third at Japan.

FedEx Championship Series introduced 28 different cars to the track in today's provisional qualifying sessions with secondary cars utilized by #1X ZANARDI, #26X TRACY, #19X JOURDAIN JR., and #3X RIBEIRO. CART drivers logged a total of 184 laps during the provisional qualifying today. Twenty of the 28 qualifiers today broke the existing track record.

Track officials report an attendance at today's provisional CART qualifying of 48,812.

Quotes from today's top three provisional qualifiers follow.

ALEX ZANARDI, Target Reynard Honda: "It was a very good day. It feels very good to between these two guys [in the position occupied by the provisional pole-sitter at the post qualifying press conference]. I haven't had this feeling after qualifying in quite awhile, although fortunately, I've had it a number of times on Sunday afternoon. I really want a pole very badly. I haven't had one this year and I'll be doing my best tomorrow to keep the position I've had today. I'm very happy with the car, nevertheless, I think we can improve the car for tomorrow. Maybe we'll get some real good Australian sun and it will get so hot that the course will not be as fast. I felt pretty hooked up this morning in practice, then this afternoon, we improved more than two seconds - an incredible amount - so I think the pole [time] will be in the low 1:31s, or maybe the high 1:30s. It remains to be seen.

DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Reynard Honda: "This morning, it was time to get down to work after all the fun on the Gold Coast. Normally, the car has been fantastic out of the box on street courses. This morning, we tried a number of things that didn't work. But we made some changes between [practice and qualifying] sessions and got the car more to my liking. I know Alex will be pushing hard for the pole because it's his last road course event in the Champ Car series. I think the [pole-winning] time is in the car. I'm going to try and go quicker, and I know Gil's going to try and go quicker and there are another 10 guys behind us who are going to try to get up there, too."

GIL de FERRAN, Valvoline/Cummins Special Reynard Honda: "It was a pretty good day for us. We started struggling with a lack of traction this morning, but we made a few changes and the car worked quite well. The car is handling quite well , and I hope we can stay in the top three for tomorrow. I think that would be great."

This concludes the Pit Notes for today's CART provisional qualifying. We'll see you tomorrow morning for a practice session at 9 a.m. followed by the final round of qualifying at 12:45 p.m. Have a good evening and g'day mates!

Source: CART Online

------------------------ Internet Access Australia------------------------ --- IAA is MNI's ISP of choice at the '98 Gold Coast Indy --- ---- Melbourne -- Tel. 03 9686 6677 -- Fax 03 9686 6644 ----- ------------------ http://www.iaccess.com.au ---------------------

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