CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterrey Carpentier qualifies on row three

Monterrey, Mexico, March 10, 2001 Matching his career-best qualifying performance on a road course in the CART series, Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier clocked the sixth-fastest lap of today's session, putting him on the outside of Row 3...

Monterrey, Mexico, March 10, 2001 Matching his career-best qualifying performance on a road course in the CART series, Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier clocked the sixth-fastest lap of today's session, putting him on the outside of Row 3 for Sunday's Grand Prix of Monterrey. The race is the curtain-raiser for the 21-race FedEx CART Championship.

"Team Player's worked hard all winter long and sixth place on the grid is a good way to start the season," remarked Carpentier, who masterfully manoeuvred his way around the twisty 2-mile Fundidora Park layout in 1 minute, 16.353 seconds. "We've been able to consistently improve our time throughout the weekend, and we've stayed right up there with the top group. That's very encouraging."

Carpentier's teammate Alex Tagliani was the second quickest in the first group, turning in a fast lap of 1:16.716 that put him on the inside of Row 7 on the starting grid. The pole-sitter is Sweden's Kenny Brack, while Brazilian compatriots Cristiano da Matta and Gil de Ferran are perched second and third respectively.

Carpentier said he expects that grip will be a factor early in the race. The Fundidora Park track gets dirty very quickly, causing it to be quite slippery until more rubber is laid down by the cars. "It's like going from a wet to a dry race," explained Carpentier, adding that the dirt on the track will likely make passing difficult.


Alexandre Tagliani. Photo: Paul Strak/Team player's.

"Team Player's will probably go with a stiffer suspension at the start of the race," added Carpentier. "That might affect us early but it will improve as more rubber is laid down. But with the track conditions early in the race, the car needs more rigidity."

The groupings for today's qualifying session were set based on the final drivers' standings in last year's CART series. That left Tagliani in the first group of qualifiers, who had to cope with a slicker surface because little rubber had been put down. Tagliani, however, performed well in the face of this adversity.

"The car has been fast all weekend," he said. "It's too bad we didn't have the chance to be in the fast group because the track improves so quickly here. Last season, we struggled on road courses, but I think the performance today is an indication that we look better on road courses this year. That's a tribute to the entire Team Player's crew."


Patrick Carpentier. Photo: Paul Strak/Team player's.

Tagliani acknowledged that he has a tough chore ahead on a track that has limited passing opportunities, but he expects strategy will play a key role in the outcome. "Obviously, the fewer mistakes we make, the better our chances are," he stated. "We're going to do everything we can to move up as much and as quickly as possible. We have a good opportunity to pit if there's an early yellow, and go off sequence and maybe start working our way through the field that way."

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix of Monterrey throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on The Sports Network at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.

- Team Player's

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Kenny Brack , Cristiano da Matta