Team Player's Tagliani fifth in first qualifying session in Miami at Grand Prix Americas.
Miami, Florida, October 4, 2002-- Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani may not have had much luck with the horseshoes, but his luck held around the water fountain as he drove to a fifth place position in the first qualifying session on the street circuit at Miami Bayfront Park.
Racing on the new, tight and narrow 2.2 km temporary street course, Tagliani clocked his fastest time on lap eight out of thirteen, with a time of 1 minute 2.304 seconds (128.977 km/h). His teammate Patrick Carpentier turned out his fastest time, 1 minute 4.135 seconds (125.284 km/h) on his eleventh and final lap of session, earning a provisional spot on the ninth row of the starting grid.
Brazil's Tony Kanaan captured the provisional pole in qualifying, with a fast lap time of 1 minute 1.264 seconds (131.166 km/h) on his eighth lap. Scott Dixon was second with 1 minute 1.444 seconds (130.782 km/h), and third place went to Japan's Tora Takagi who recorded a fast time of 1 minute 2.039 seconds (129.527 km/h).
"I'm really happy with our times today. The car set-up has been improved a lot since the last street circuit race in Denver," Tagliani said. "Team Player's modified the suspension geometry, and it made a big difference. We were quick around the fountain, one of the fastest cars, but we are about six-tenths of a second from Tony (Kanaan) in the horseshoe. We need to find a balance now in the setup, where we can pick up time in the slower sections without losing time where we are fast. Qualifying is ninety percent of our race in Miami. If you get a good qualifying spot then you have a better chance of winning. That's because it's really difficult to pass on this course, it's narrow much of the way, and in other spots it's bumpy."
His teammate Carpentier agreed. "It is going be tough to pass here. If you go off the racing line, the track is like a mirror. It's like driving on a sheet of ice, it's that slippery." Carpentier hopes to improve his luck and move further up the starting grid in Saturday's qualifying. "I was faster in morning practice than I was in qualifying," he said. "I was in the wrong sequence throughout this session. I never had a chance to do two quick laps in row. I was either in traffic, trying to pass a slow car, or there was a red flag (3 long stoppages during the qualifying session.) We worked on the car after morning practice but I was never able to test properly, I just couldn't catch a break."
Miami hasn't seen a CART race in its streets since then-Player's driver Jacques Villeneuve took the chequered flag in 1995. Tagliani and Carpentier hope to carry-on the Team Player's success in Miami this weekend, on this as yet untested new race course.
Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix Americas throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race on tape delay on The Sports Network starting at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.