CHAMPCAR/CART: Mercedes Rio Thursday Practice Report - Rain!

FedEx Championship Series Report Race: GP Telemar Rio 200, Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Date/Session: Thursday, May 13, 1999 Practice Rio 200 Practice Cancelled Due to Rain Today's practice for the...

FedEx Championship Series Report

Race: GP Telemar Rio 200, Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Date/Session: Thursday, May 13, 1999 Practice

Rio 200 Practice Cancelled Due to Rain

Today's practice for the GP Telemar Rio 200 CART FedEx Championship Series race was cancelled due to rain. Drivers will practice Friday morning and qualifying in the afternoon. The green flag for the GP Telemar Rio 200 will wave Saturday, May 15, at 1 p.m., local time. The race will be seen on ABC from 4-6 p.m. (Eastern).

Mercedes-Benz Features Five Brazilians for Rio 200 · Due to a variety of circumstances, the Mercedes-Benz CART driving team, which usually includes three Brazilians, has expanded to five for the GP Telemar Rio 200. Regular Mercedes drivers Mauricio Gugelmin (PacWest/Hollywood) and Helio Castro-Neves (Hogan), are both natives of Brazil. But for this race there are three additional native Brazilians racing for the three-pointed star: Tarso Marques joins Marlboro Team Penske; Roberto Moreno substitutes for the injured Englishman Mark Blundell at PacWest/Motorola; and Gualter Salles sits in for Shigeaki Hattori at Epson/Bettenhausen. Mercedes-Benz's international squad of drivers also includes Greg Moore, defending champion of this race, and his Player's Forsythe teammate Patrick Carpentier, who are both from Canada, and Marlboro Team Penske driver Al Unser Jr., who is from the United States.

· Mauricio Gugelmin, who grew up in Curitiba - 500 miles from Rio de Janeiro - scored a pole position here in 1997 with his PacWest Racing Hollywood Mercedes. "Racing in Brazil is pretty special," said Gugelmin, who owns the closed-course world speed record with a 240.942 mph-lap at California Speedway in 1997. "The fans like to see the passing and the hard racing that Champ Cars have to offer."

· Hogan Racing's Helio Castro-Neves has been impressive this season, setting the fastest race laps in Motegi, Japan, and Nazareth, Pa., in his Mercedes-powered Champ Car. Castro-Neves, who celebrated his 24th birthday this week, grew up in Sao Paulo, approximately 200 miles from Rio.

· Champ Car rookie Tarso Marques rejoins Al Unser Jr., and Marlboro Team Penske this weekend, after subbing for the injured Unser in Japan and Long Beach, Calif. Like Gugelmin, Marques grew up in Curitiba. He was voted "Best Brazilian Driver" by Auto Esport Magazine here in 1992.

· Roberto Moreno joins the PacWest Racing team this weekend as a replacement driver for Motorola Mercedes pilot Mark Blundell, who was injured last week during testing at Gateway International Raceway near St. Louis. Moreno, who spent his childhood in Rio before moving to the national capital of Brasilia when he was 10, started on the front row in this race (next to Gugelmin) in 1997.

· Gualter Salles is substituting for Epson/Bettenhausen Motorsports rookie Shigeaki Hattori who crashed in practice in Nazareth. Salles, a 28-year-old native of Rio, will make his 25th Champ Car appearance in his third year in the series. Hattori is slated to return to the cockpit after he completes more testing.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Gualter Salles , Al Unser Jr. , Shigeaki Hattori , Tarso Marques , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Emerson Fittipaldi , Greg Moore
Teams Team Penske