Da Matta claims Surfers Paradise victory Wins race at record speed Cristiano da Matta parlayed his third-place starting spot into victory in the Honda Indy 300, bringing the ...
Da Matta claims Surfers Paradise victory
Wins race at record speed
Cristiano da Matta parlayed his third-place starting spot into victory in the Honda Indy 300, bringing the #6 Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Lola/Toyota to the checkered flags 5.786 seconds in front of Michael Andretti. His was the fastest race run ever run on the 2.795-mile circuit, completed at an average speed of 97.511mph in a time of one hour, 51 minutes and 47.260 seconds. It was the diminutive Brazilian's second victory of the 2001 season, after taking the opener at Monterrey, Mexico in March.
"I think my performance is related to the number of people at the races," he joked. "There were a lot of people in Mexico and there was a record crowd today." In fact, the 286,610 race fans who crowded the circuit cheered da Matta to the flags. "Our team needed this win and the momentum it brings as we head to the finale next weekend." With his victory, da Matta took a firm hold on fifth place in the title chase, as the championship went to Gil de Ferran with his fourth place finish.
Kenny Brack stalked de Ferran to the checkered flags, taking fifth place in the contest and locking down the runner-up slot for the year. "We needed to finish in front of Gil and we didn't do that today," Brack explained after exiting his #8 Shell Lola/Ford. "We just have to settle for second, but we'll go to Fontana and go flat out to win the final race of the year." The Swede has four wins to his credit. He started this contest in 13th and improved to take fifth.
Michel Jourdain Jr.'s seventh place came in his 100th CART start, and the Mexican driver of the #16 Herdez Lola/Ford was pleased by the accomplishment, coming from 16th on the 26-car grid. "Our car was very good and the strategy we had was excellent, even though the race didn't go as usual." There were only two short caution periods over the 65 laps on a hot, sunny Gold Coast day.
The Champ Cars pack up now and return to the U.S. for the season finale next weekend at California Speedway in Fontana. While the first two slots are set in the final standings, many more of the top 10 season-long positions are up for grabs, and Lola drivers are near the head of that class, including da Matta and Max Papis (#7 Miller Lite Lola/Ford), who finished 9th today and is currently eighth, just a handful of points out of sixth.