CHAMPCAR/CART: Motegi Mercedes Qualifying

FedEx Championship Series Report Race: Firestone Firehawk 500, Twin Ring Motegi (Japan) Date/Session: Friday, April 9, 1999 Qualifying Gugelmin, Mercedes-Benz Score Front Row At Motegi PacWest Veteran Qualifies Second-Fastest at...

FedEx Championship Series Report

Race:           Firestone Firehawk 500, Twin Ring Motegi (Japan)
Date/Session:   Friday, April 9, 1999   Qualifying

Gugelmin, Mercedes-Benz Score Front Row At Motegi PacWest Veteran Qualifies Second-Fastest at Twin Ring Oval Mercedes-Benz powered Mauricio Gugelmin to the front row of the starting grid for the Firestone Firehawk 500, the second round of the CART FedEx Championship Series. Gugelmin, driving the PacWest Hollywood Mercedes, posted the second-quickest lap time of 25.530 seconds (218.425 mph) over the 1.549-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval. Gil de Ferran is on pole with a lap of 25.463 seconds (219.000 mph).

Player's/Forsythe driver Greg Moore, who won the pole and the race at the season-opening Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami in March, will start sixth with a qualifying lap time of 25.593 seconds (217.888 mph). Moore, who has seven podium finishes in his last nine oval starts, leads the PPG Cup standings with 22 points.

Moore's Player's/Forsythe teammate, Patrick Carpentier, will start 13th after a qualifying lap of 25.689 seconds (217.073 mph). PacWest Motorola Mercedes driver Mark Blundell turned in a 25.912-second lap (215.205 mph) for 16th place.

Helio Castro-Neves struggled with mechanical problems during Thursday's windy practice sessions, but improved today with a lap time of 25.954 seconds (214.857 mph) to earn the 18th position on the grid in his Hogan Racing Mercedes.

Tarso Marques, driving the Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes for Al Unser Jr., who was injured on the first lap of the season-opening race in Miami, will start his first Champ car race from the 22nd spot on the grid with a qualifying time of 26.241 seconds (212.507 mph).

Bettenhausen Motorsports Mercedes Rookie Shigeaki Hattori will make his first race start from 24th place, turning in a lap time of 26.698 seconds (208.870 mph). Hattori did not race in Miami due to a concussion suffered in a crash during practice.

The green flag on the Firestone Firehawk 500 is Saturday, April 10, at 1:05 p.m. in Japan. It will be televised live on ESPN in the United States beginning at midnight (EDT) Friday, April 9.

Mercedes Quotes

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (starting second/25.530 seconds) "There is room here for us to really race, so this won't be boring at all. It will be really tight. I had a push early in the (turn three) corner and so my second lap was not a clean lap. I have a great race car and feel like I can do both ends flat. I will be shifting (in turns three and four) because the horsepower is better. I have a tendency to ride the throttle, and the shifting helps a lot. I really feel good."

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (starting sixth/25. 593 seconds) "Our race set up is good. It's a 300-mile race, so where you start on the grid is not a big deal. I'm not worried. Tomorrow is what's important. The car ran well and we're in good shape."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (starting 13th/25.689 seconds) "We were struggling here yesterday. The temperature of the tires was a problem for us. But today was good. The car ran well, and the balance is much better today. We are very tight and competitive."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (starting 16th/25.912 seconds) "Our corner speeds are fine, as good as the top guys. But so far we can't get the drag out on the straights. We scratch our heads and keep working on it. I'm confident that we have a good balance for the race."

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 9, Hogan Racing Mercedes/Firestone (starting 18th/25.954 seconds) "We had problems in yesterday's sessions, and this morning was the only time to put everything together. It is looking better each time. Our goal tomorrow is to finish in the points. I am optimistic that we'll be competitive."

Tarso Marques, No. 2, Marlboro Team Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear (starting 22nd/26.241 seconds) "Qualifying today was another new experience for me. I had a little understeer, which limited my speed, but I was able to pick up some speed on my second lap. We achieved our first goal this weekend by getting into the field. Tomorrow we will concentrate on having a good clean race. The Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes is well balanced and consistent which should help in the race."

Shigeaki Hattori, No. 16 , Bettenhausen Motorsports/Mercedes/Firestone (starting 24th/26.698 seconds) "The car is still pushing, but we are running consistent times and I am very happy."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Shigeaki Hattori , Gil de Ferran , Tarso Marques , Patrick Carpentier , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Greg Moore
Teams Team Penske