CHAMPCAR/CART: Gold Coast Saturday Track Notes

Honda Indy FedEx Championship Series Track Notes - Saturday,October 16, 1998 Good Morning from Surfers Paradise, Australia for the final day of qualifying for Sunday's Honda Indy! This morning's weather has seen the return of...

Honda Indy FedEx Championship Series Track Notes - Saturday,October 16, 1998

Good Morning from Surfers Paradise, Australia for the final day of qualifying for Sunday's Honda Indy! This morning's weather has seen the return of the usual heat and humidity, with a glassy blue Pacific showing that yesterday's stiff southerlies will not be back for an encore. The FedEx Championship Series will take to the track for a 75-minute practice session at 9 a.m. with the final round of qualifying taking the Green Flag at 12:45 p.m. Today's qualifying sessions will again be the split-group format with the faster drivers from yesterday's session making up Group Two. Each group will be on-track for 30 minutes with the usual 15-minute intermission.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9 a.m. to start the morning practice session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 108 degrees F (42 C) and an ambient temperature of 76 degrees F (24 C) at the start of the session.

At 9:07 a.m., #40 FERNANDEZ dramatically slows on course between Turns 2 and 3, reporting via radio to his crew that he is having problems with the brakes. FERNANDEZ subsequently pits his car.

At 9:09 a.m., #7 RAHAL slides into the run-off at Turn 9 but continues on-course without damage to the car.

At 9:10 a.m., ten minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #11 FITTIPALDI with a lap of 105.000 (1:35.829), followed by #99 MOORE (104.893; 1:35.926) and #8 HERTA (104.630 mph; 1:36.167).

RED FLAG waves at 9:12 a.m. after #16 CASTRO-NEVES loses control entering the chicane at Turn 7 and makes hard contact with the left side of the car against the inside wall. Though the driver is uninjured in the incident, the car sustains major damage to the left side suspension and side pods. CART safety workers pull the car behind the wall to safety and the crew readies the secondary car for use in the remainder of the practice session.

At 9:20 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #8 HERTA with a lap of 106.406 mph (1:34.562), followed by #12 VASSER (105.802 mph; 1:35.102) and #11 FITTIPALDI (105.000; 1:35.829).

At 9:25 a.m., #25 PAPIS makes contact with the tire barrier at Turn 7 but continues on-course without apparent damage to the car. PAPIS subsequently pits his car.

At 9:26 a.m., #8 HERTA makes contact with the tire barrier at Turn 1 but continues on-course without damage to the car. HERTA remains on course at speed.

At 9:30 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is again #11 FITTIPALDI with a lap of 106.802 mph (1:34.212), followed by #6 ANDRETTI (106.589 mph; 1:34.400) and #5 DE FERRAN (106.577 mph; 1:34.411).

RED FLAG waves at 9:37 a.m. after #9 LEHTO makes contact with the tire barrier at Turn 3, spilling tires onto the edge of the track. LEHTO continues to his pit area and the crew reports the two front tires have deep cuts. CART safety workers move the tire barriers back into place.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9:40 a.m. to resume the practice session. The fastest driver at this point of the session is still #11 FITTIPALDI with a lap of 106.905 mph (1:34.121), followed by #6 ANDRETTI (106.589 mph; 1:34.400) and #5 DE FERRAN (106.577 mph; 1:34.411).

RED FLAG waves at 9:43 a.m. after #19 JOURDAIN JR. slides into the run-off at Turn 3 and stalls the car. CART safety workers get the car restarted and JOURDAIN JR. subsequently pits his car.

GREEN FLAG waves at 9:46 a.m. to resume the practice session.

At 9:48 a.m., #34 VITOLO slides into the run-off at Turn 8 and continues on-course without apparent damage to the car.

At 9:50 a.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #11 FITTIPALDI with his earlier lap of 106.905 mph (1:34.121), with #5 DE FERRAN moving to the second-place spot with a speed of 106.606 mph (1:34.385) and #6 ANDRETTI in third at (106.589 mph; 1:34.400).

At 9:53 a.m., #36 BARRON makes light contact with the wall at Turn 2 but continues on-course without apparent damage to the car. BARRON immediately pits his car.

RED FLAG waves at 9:57 a.m. after #8 HERTA stalls on-course just before the pit entrance. CART safety workers tow the car back to the pit area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10 a.m. to resume the practice session. The fastest driver at this point of the session is still #11 FITTIPALDI with his earlier lap of 106.905 mph (1:34.121), followed by #27 FRANCHITTI (106.812 mph; 1:34.203) and #6X ANDRETTI getting his secondary car up to third-fastest of the session with a speed 106.777 mph (1:34.234).

RED FLAG waves at 10:07 a.m. after #18 BLUNDELL spins off-course into the run-off at Turn 9. CART safety workers get the car restarted and BLUNDELL continues to his pit area with a flat, left rear tire.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:09 a.m. to resume the practice session.

At 10:10 a.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #99 MOORE with a lap of 107.212 mph (1:33.851), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (106.905 mph; 1:34.121) and #27 FRANCHITTI (106.812 mph; 1:34.203).

RED FLAG waves at 10:12 a.m. after #16X CASTRO-NEVES slides across the chicane at Turn 2 and into the inside guard rail with the left side of the car. Though CASTRO-NEVES is uninjured in the incident, the car sustains damage to the left rear suspension.

The CHECKERED FLAG is waved at 10:13 a.m. after CART Race Control determines that there will not be enough time to clean up the track from the CASTRO-NEVES incident before the scheduled end of the practice session. #99 MOORE remains the fastest of the session with his earlier lap of 107.212 mph (1:33.851), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (106.905 mph; 1:34.121) and #27 FRANCHITTI (106.812 mph; 1:34.203). There are 16 cars within one second of the fast lap set by MOORE during this morning session.

FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 31 different cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #6X ANDRETTI, #26X TRACY, #3X RIBEIRO, #1X ZANARDI, #16X CASTRO-NEVES, #19X JOURDAIN JR., #20X PRUETT, and #2X UNSER JR. CART drivers logged 251 laps during this morning's sessions.

Next up on the CART schedule is the final round of qualifying at 12:45 p.m.

At 12:45 p.m., CART Race Control announces that the start of the Group One session will be pushed back to 1 p.m. to allow some concrete patching efforts laid down by track workers to dry.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1 p.m. to start the final Group One qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 130 degrees F. ( 54 C.) and an ambient temperature of 88 degrees F. ( 31 C.) at the drop of the Green Flag.

At 1:05 p.m., five minutes into the Group One session, the fastest driver is #10 HEARN with a lap of 105.395 mph (1:35.469), followed by #33 CARPENTIER (105.229 mph; 1:35.620) and #7 RAHAL (105.144 mph; 1:35.697).

At 1:08 p.m., #10 HEARN brushes the wall with the left side of his car but continues on-course without apparent damage to the car.

At 1:10 p.m., ten minutes into the Group One session, the fastest driver is now #7 RAHAL with a lap of 107.089 mph (1:33.959), followed by #33 CARPENTIER (106.351 mph; 1:34.611) and #3X RIBEIRO (106.350 mph; 1:34.612).

At 1:11 p.m., #19 JOURDAIN JR. stalls on-course between Turns 8 and 9. CART safety workers push the car to safety and the track stays Green.

At 1:15 p.m., 15 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest driver is still #7 RAHAL with his earlier lap of 107.089 mph (1:33.959), followed by #9 LEHTO (106.543 mph; 1:34.441) and #33 CARPENTIER (106.351 mph; 1:34.611).

At 1:20 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest driver is still #7 RAHAL with his earlier lap of 107.089 mph (1:33.959), followed by #2X UNSER JR. (106.747 mph; 1:34.260) and #9 LEHTO (106.543 mph; 1:34.441).

Also at 1:20 p.m., #10 HEARN again makes contact with the wall at Turn 2 and continues on-course. HEARN car takes a rough ride across the short cut before continuing on-track.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 1:23 p.m. to #2X UNSER JR. to start an eight-minute penalty period earned by causing a delay in yesterday's provisional qualifying session. UNSER JR. subsequently pits his car ending his final qualifying session at 19th-fastest overall on the grid.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 1:24 p.m. to #77 MEIER for a pit road speed violation. MEIER subsequently pits his car.

At 1:25 p.m., 25 minutes into the Group One session, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 1:20 p.m. report.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 1:30 p.m. with #7 RAHAL the fastest Group One driver with his lap of 108.114 mph (1:33.068; 4th-fastest overall), followed by #9 LEHTO (107.421 mph; 1:33.669; 12th-fastest overall) and #33 CARPENTIER (107.249 mph; 1:33.819; 14th-fastest overall.) Eleven of 13 drivers in the Group two session improved their times from yesterday's sessions even though the track temperature is hotter in today's attempts. Please note that the overall rankings on the grid for the Group One drivers is subject to the Group Two drivers runs to start in 15 minutes. The top eight drivers of Group Two bettered their provisional speeds from yesterday's sessions with. #16 CASTRO-NEVES did not take a lap in the final round of qualifying due to separate incidents in this morning's practice sessions damaging both his primary and secondary cars.

GREEN FLAG waves at 1:45 p.m. to start the final Group Two qualifying session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 130 degrees F. (54 C.) and an ambient temperature of 90 degrees F. (32 C.) at the start of the Group Two session.

At 1:50 p.m., five minutes into the Group Two qualifying session, the fastest driver is #27 FRANCHITTI with a lap of 107.089 mph (1:33.959), followed by #99 MOORE (106.773 mph; 1:34.237) and #5 DE FERRAN (106.274 mph; 1:34.281).

At 1:55 p.m., ten minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest driver is #11 FITTIPALDI with a lap of 108.777 mph (1:32.501; second-fastest on the overall grid), followed by #8 HERTA (108.675 mph; 1:32.588; third-fastest on the overall grid) and #6 ANDRETTI (108.646 mph; 1:32.613; fourth-fastest overall on the grid).

RED FLAG waves at 1:57 p.m. after #8 HERTA stalls on-course at the entrance to Turn 7. CART safety workers push the car to safety and HERTA will receive the standard eight-minute penalty for delaying the Group Two qualifying session.

At 2 p.m., 15 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 1:57 p.m. report.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:01 p.m. to resume the Group One qualifying session.

At 2:03 p.m., #1X ZANARDI abruptly pulls down pit road from the front stretch after smoke erupts at the rear of the car. CART pit road workers report oil on the path leading into ZANARDI's pit.

At 2:05 p.m., 20 minutes into the Group Two session, the fastest drivers, speeds, and overall grid positions are unchanged from the 2 p.m. report.

At 2:09 p.m., #27 FRANCHITTI clocks the fastest lap of the weekend with a speed of 109.028 mph (1:32.288) and takes the pole away from #1 ZANARDI.

At 2:10 p.m., #27 FRANCHITTI is on the pole with a speed of 109.028 mph (1:32.288), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (108.777 mph; 1:32.501; third-fastest overall) and #8 HERTA (108.675; 1:32.588; fourth-fastest overall).

At 2:14 p.m., #21 KANAAN brushes the wall at Turn 3 and continues on-course without damage to the car.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 2:15 p.m. to end the Group Two qualifying session with #27 FRANCHITTI winning the pole for Sunday's Honda Indy with his earlier lap of 109.028 mph (1:32.288), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (108.777 mph; 1:32.509; third-fastest overall on the grid) and #26X TRACY (108.681 mph; 1:32.583; fourth-fastest overall on the grid). The final grid has 12 drivers within one second of the pole-winning speed set by FRANCHITTI. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 27 different cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #26X TRACY, #1X ZANARDI, #3X RIBEIRO, and #19X JOURDAIN JR.

DARIO FRANCHITTI wins the Marlboro Pole Award of $10,000 and earns the pole position for Sunday's Honda Indy with his lap of 109.028 mph (1:32.288). If FRANCHITTI can continue on to win tomorrow's race, he will collect an additional $30,000 from Marlboro. This is FRANCHITTI's sixth career pole and a 1998 season-series high fifth pole. FRANCHITTI has previously won poles at Brazil, Toronto, Mid-Ohio, and Vancouver this year. This is FRANCHITTI's fourth consecutive front-row start and his ninth in the 18 races this season.

ALEX ZANARDI will start second in tomorrow's Honda Indy by virtue of his Saturday run of 109.002 mph (1:32.310). This is ZANARDI's fourth front-row start of the season. ZANARDI also started on the front row at Brazil, Detroit, and Toronto. This is also ZANARDI's ninth top-five start of the season.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI will start third in tomorrow's race. This matches FITTIPALDI's career-best start. FITTIPALDI also started third at Milwaukee in 1996 and Portland in 1997. This will also be FITTIPALDI's fifth top-five start of the season.

J.J. LEHTO wins the Budweiser Accelerator Award. LEHTO posted the best increase in lap speed from practice to final qualifying and a $1000 check will be presented to CARA, the charitable arm of CART in LEHTO's name.

FRANCHITTI's pole win is the series-best seventh pole for Honda and the 17th pole of the season for Firestone.

MAX PAPIS's 13th-place qualifying effort if Toyota's best-ever on a road course and matches the manufacturer's best overall start. ROBBIE GORDON also started 13th at Nazareth. PAPIS's showing is the third straight race that Toyota has improved its best mark on a road course.

Driver quotes from today's top-three qualifiers follow.

DARIO FRANCHITTI, KOOL Reynard Honda: "During qualifying, I didn't get to do a [hot] lap on the first set of tires. I flat-spotted them, then I came back in under a red flag, and put on a new set of tires. I want back out and told myself, 'This is it.' I made one mistake, but I was able to hang on. It's a great result for myself, for Honda, for Firestone and for Team KOOL Green. We've been running at the front a lot lately, but it really took until Elkhart [Lake] to get it all sorted out. The car has been quick all year, It's just that I'm getting more comfortable in the car and the team is starting to put things together on Sunday afternoons when it counts."

ALEX ZANARDI, Target Reynard Honda: "We had a little problem with the gearbox. I can't do anything but shake Dario's hand, but I'm disappointed that we didn't have an opportunity to fight for it. Certainly, for myself I wanted to get the pole. I can't allow Dario to win the race. I've got to go out and try to win. I've got to help Jimmy somehow [Teammate Jimmy Vasser stands second in the FedEx Championship Series points race, in which Franchitti stands third]. I definitely think we have the car to win."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, Kmart Swift Ford: "Yesterday we didn't have a really super day. I managed to flat-spot all four of my sets of tires thanks to a braking problem. But we were able to get the problem corrected today. Alex had a small engine problem today when he could have had a great run for the pole, and when I saw him come in, I thought, "This could be my day." I got out on my second set of tires but I ran into some traffic and that's where I lost it. [Joking] When I went past the place where I had the accident [last year], I was lifting, because I was scared. If it hadn't been for that, I'd have been on the pole."

The attendance for today was 67,659 versus 62,229 from 1997. The race attendance from 1997 of 91,664 is expected to be easily eclipsed with tomorrow's crowd. Be sure to get here early!

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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