Mercedes Teams Struggle in Warm Toronto Qualifying Session Marlboro Team Penskeâ€™s Ribeiro Fastest in 11th Several Mercedes-Benz drivers improved upon their provisional qualifying times during this afternoonâ€™s final qualifying...
Mercedes Teams Struggle in Warm Toronto Qualifying Session Marlboro Team Penske’s Ribeiro Fastest in 11th
Several Mercedes-Benz drivers improved upon their provisional qualifying times during this afternoon’s final qualifying session for the Molson Indy Toronto, but all five teams were stymied by a lack of grip as temperatures climbed and the circuit became slick.
Andre Ribeiro moved his Marlboro Penske/Mercedes up to 11th on the starting grid, having shaved nearly a full second off of his lap time from yesterday, but the Brazilian was more than .7 seconds off the pole-winning pace of Dario Franchitti.
Player’s/Forsythe Racing driver Greg Moore picked up .355 seconds, but that was only enough to maintain his 12th place starting position. Al Unser Jr. slipped back five positions to 14th on the final starting grid.
Mark Blundell climbed two spots and will start the Motorola Reynard/Mercedes 15th. Patrick Carpentier is qualified 18th with PacWest Racing’s Mauricio Gugelmin 19th. Rookies Helio Castro-Neves and JJ Lehto continued to struggle and will start 21st and 26th, respectively.
Tomorrow’s 11th round of the 1998 FedEx Championship will start at 2:00 p.m. EDT and will be televised by ABC starting at 3:00 p.m.
Andre Ribeiro, No. 3 Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear: 11th - 59.416 sec.
"The car’s definitely better, but we’re still having trouble with understeer on the concrete and putting the power down at the rear. I’m not sure whether the it was getting warmer and the track had less grip or if our first set of tires was just better than the second set."
Greg Moore, No. 99, Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 12th - 59.480 sec.
"It’s not where I want to be starting, but the car’s very, very good. We can run fast laps consistently, all day long. Towards the end of my run on the first set of tires, I just brushed the wall. I was trying really hard to find a little more speed and came through turn 11 a little faster than I had before. I brushed the wall, but it was no big deal. We came in, changed tires, fixed the little piece that was broken and went right back out. Unfortunately, we got caught up in traffic on the second set."
Al Unser Jr., No. 2 Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear: 14th - 59.534 sec.
"The car wasn’t really any better than this morning. I think we only just got back to our time from yesterday. But it was a lot warmer this afternoon, and the track was more slippery. We’ll just have to do what we can with it overnight and keep working on it."
Mark Blundell, No. 18 Motorola Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 15th - 59.668 sec.
"It’s pretty simple really. We got blocked in traffic on our first set of tires, and on the second set, we missed the chassis setup. The track must have been okay, because some guys managed to improve their times. We just didn’t get a setup to work with the track and conditions today, so it’s down to us."
Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 18th - 59.834 sec.
"It was better this afternoon. The car was definitely faster, but obviously not fast enough. The track was getting slippery as it got warmer, but overall, it’s been getting better as the weekend goes on. We still need more grip in the corners, more at the front of the car to carry more speed in and exit faster."
Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17 Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 19th - 60.049 sec.
"We were just lacking grip. As it got warmer the track felt like it got slipperier, but I was just terrible from the beginning. We couldn’t do anything with it. We didn’t make a lot of changes from this morning, but the car just wasn’t working. We’ll have to go back and put on our thinking caps."
Helio Castro-Neves, No. 16 Alumax Reynard/Mercedes/Goodyear: 21st - 60.195 sec. "We’re trying as hard as we can. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t find a good setup for this track. For some reason, the tires seemed better the older they were. But, of course, you need the new tires to find the extra speed for qualifying. The main thing is to never give up."
JJ Lehto, No. 9 Hogan Racing Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 26th - 60.957 sec.
"We just don’t have any grip. The first lap, when we first go out on new tires, it’s better, but after that, the car just slides around. It’s just massive. We don’t understand it. We’ve changed just about everything. We’re trying a lot of things, and we can find three-tenths (of a second) but not a second and a half."
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