Late charge eases some early problems as Team Player's drivers Tagliani and Carpentier are 7th and 11th in CART qualifying in Long Beach. Long Beach, California, April 12, 2002 Gradually getting back into the groove after a one-month break ...
Late charge eases some early problems as Team Player's drivers Tagliani and Carpentier are 7th and 11th in CART qualifying in Long Beach.
Long Beach, California, April 12, 2002 Gradually getting back into the groove after a one-month break between races, Team Player's drivers Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier were 7th- and 11th-fastest respectively Friday in provisional qualifying for Sunday's CART event on the 1.968-mile temporary Long Beach street circuit.
Tagliani, whose running time in morning practice was significantly reduced while he waited for the gearbox to be changed, clocked a fast lap of 1 minute, 9.611 seconds in the afternoon session, about one and two-tenths of a second quicker than his best effort in practice. Carpentier, who struggled to find the proper balance in the car, trimmed almost one and a half seconds off his top practice clocking by turning in a lap of 1:09.883 in the closing minutes of provisional qualifying.
Brazil's Cristiano da Matta took the provisional pole ahead of teammate and fellow countryman Christian Fittipaldi. Da Matta, who completed his quickest lap in 1:09.092, is guaranteed a front-row spot on Sunday's grid as a result of his provisional pole.
"It was tough to run laps after the one-month layoff, and the problems with the gearbox in the morning didn't help," admitted Tagliani. "But things got better as the day went on, and in the end Team Player's made quite a comeback from this morning."
On his final flying lap, Tagliani was running three-tenths of a second quicker than his fastest time, a pace that might have propelled him into third place. But as he pushed the car in the last corner before the hairpin, it went loose and brushed against the retaining wall. He managed to drive the car back into the pits to preserve his seventh position.
"There was some oversteer in the car on the way into the hairpin and the back end just went loose," explained Tagliani. "It was a case of being a bit too aggressive on my part but I was really going all out to produce a fast lap that could have got us into at least third. We have a car that's definitely top 5 but that little mistake cost us a higher spot today."
Carpentier was well down the leader board prior to the qualifying session's only red flag following a Max Papis incident in the 35th minute of the one-hour time allotment. But the Team Player's driver did an outstanding job of coaxing a quick lap out of a rough handling car and came within a fraction of working his way into the top 10.
"It was a lot of work getting to that 1:09.8," remarked Carpentier. "This morning the suspension was too soft and although Team Player's hardened it this afternoon, there were still handling problems. We still have to find the proper balance but we're going in the right direction. If we don't come up with the proper balance in practice Saturday morning, we're going to go with Alex's set-up."
Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the 90-lap Grand Prix of Long Beach throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race on The Sports Network on tape delay at 5:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.