CHAMPCAR/CART: Mercedes Cleveland Provisional Qualifying

Blundell Paces Three-pointed Star in Cleveland Mercedes-Benz Racers Quick on Three Continents PacWest Racing drivers Mark Blundell and Mauricio Gugelmin showed early signs of a return to their winning form of last season, posting top-10...

Blundell Paces Three-pointed Star in Cleveland Mercedes-Benz Racers Quick on Three Continents

PacWest Racing drivers Mark Blundell and Mauricio Gugelmin showed early signs of a return to their winning form of last season, posting top-10 times during today’s provisional qualifying for the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland. Blundell was fifth fastest in his Motorola Reynard/Mercedes, just .615 seconds off the pace of provisional pole winner Jimmy Vasser. Gugelmin was eighth in the Hollywood-sponsored car.

While the five-team, eight-driver Mercedes-Benz CART contingent began preparations for Sunday’s 10th round of the FedEx Championship Series, the three-pointed star was also in action in Silverstone, England, and in Dijon, France. West McLaren Mercedes Formula One drivers David Coulthard and Mika Hakkinen were first and second fastest, respectively, after the first day of practice for the British Grand Prix, and Team AMG Mercedes pilots Ricardo Zonta and Bernd Schneider were atop the time sheets at the French FIA GT Championship event.

Blundell and the rest of the Mercedes-Benz CART drivers will return to the 2.106-mile temporary circuit at Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport for morning practice tomorrow. Final qualifying is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.

Sunday’s 100-lap, 210.6-mile race will start at 12:30 p.m. and will be televised live by ABC.

Mercedes Quotes

Mark Blundell, No. 18 Motorola Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Fifth - 57.039 sec.

"The car is feeling pretty good, so I’m happy. We had a problem and ran out of fuel. That meant we had to get towed in and serve an eight-minute penalty for causing a red flag. While we were sitting we made a pretty radical change to the car that we thought was going to be an improvement. It turned out not to be, and it kind of caught me out. We went off course and broke the front wing and end plate. But I’m confident for tomorrow. There’s more (speed) left in the car. This is one of the better starts we have to a weekend this season, so there’re smiling faces all around."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17 Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Eighth - 57.334 sec.

"We had a pretty productive morning, but this place is tough on tires. We never had a chance to try for a (quick) time. The car’s still too loose, but if we can fix that we’ll improve a lot. It’s been getting better and better (during testing) since Portland (Budweiser/G.I. Joe’s 200, June 21). We’re gonna be all right."

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 11th - 57.707 sec.

"We improved the car a lot from this morning. We made a fairly dramatic change to the car, but then we broke a cooling system line, so we had to stop early. It’s too bad, because I really felt like there was more in the car. But we made a big improvement in the car, which is encouraging for tomorrow."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 13th - 57.738 sec.

"The car was much better than this morning. The team made a huge improvement, and the car was much faster. I like this track. It’s a lot of fun, fast and wide open. My last run, somebody knocked the cones (which mark the course on Burke Lakefront Airport’s runways) all over the track. That messed up that lap, because once you start a quick lap you’re committed to it--the tires won’t be any good if you quit in the middle and try to go around again. The car still has a bit of push (understeer), but I think we’ll be able to improve it for tomorrow."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mika Hakkinen , Ricardo Zonta , Jimmy Vasser , Patrick Carpentier , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Bernd Schneider , Greg Moore