CHAMPCAR/CART: Newman/Haas Gold Coast qualifying report

Da Matta Held Fastest Qualifying Lap Until He Dropped To A Third Place Start For The Honda Indy 300; Fittipaldi Third Fast In First Qualifying Session But Dropped To A 15th Place Start POLE: Roberto Moreno 1:32.095 109.257 mph 3rd Cristiano da...

Da Matta Held Fastest Qualifying Lap Until He Dropped To A Third Place Start For The Honda Indy 300; Fittipaldi Third Fast In First Qualifying Session But Dropped To A 15th Place Start


POLE: Roberto Moreno 1:32.095 109.257 mph
3rd Cristiano da Matta 1:32.406 108.889 mph
15th Christian Fittipaldi 1:33.947 107.103 mph

NOTE: The red flag came out many times during the first 30-minute qualifying session due to many cars making contact with the wall. Once the 20 minutes of guaranteed time elapsed, the series cleared the track of cars and began the second qualifying session. Based on a conversation with CART, the team interpreted the "20 minutes of green time" instruction to mean that once 20 minutes of green had elapsed, the session would end rather than continue to a maximum of 30 minutes.

Unlike the first session, qualifying did not get red flagged until 20 minutes had passed. Immediately before that, Cristiano da Matta had held the fastest lap time until Gil de Ferran bettered his time at the 20-minute mark. The session resumed with approx. two minutes to go after a car was cleared from the track but da Matta had already used both of his sets of tires that are allowed for qualifying and the "edge" no longer was present.

CRISTIANO da MATTA, #6 Texaco/Havoline/Kmart Toyota-Lola: "After watching the first session I was worried about the red flags. I knew I had a good car in my hands since this morning but we made a small, silly mistake and it ruined our chance to fight for the pole. The lap on my second set of tires was good but not as good as it would have been at the end of the session but we had already used the second set of tires because we thought we only had 20 minutes of guaranteed green time instead of the usual 30 minutes. Once the session was restarted, we went out but the edge was gone from the tires because we had already warmed them up then the red came out after 20 minutes. They aren't as good when you get them back up to temperature so even though my lap was very good, the lap time didn't show it because the tires didn't have their edge. We didn't have the edge from the new tires and instead had to fight for the pole with tires that had two or three laps on them. This weekend we are looking better than we have all of the other weekends so we are hoping that everything goes well in the race. We just need to avoid the accidents and save our tires. The Toyota engine has been running great so that will help us. We had a shot at the pole but didn't get it but I am confident for the race. Newman/Haas always gives me a good race car to fight with."

* NOTE: Will be his third event here. Finished fourth in '00 and retired in 13th place with transmission failure in '99. Set to score his first CART pole but dropped to a third place start.

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI, #11 Kmart Toyota-Lola: "The session was frustrating because of all of the red flags. In the first 16 seconds of my fast lap I was already three-tenths of a second quicker than my best lap but the red flag came out and ruined the lap. I think we would have been able to get a 33.0 and be much farther forward. Unfortunately we were in the first session and couldn't make the most of an improving track with a good car. It was definitely a top-six car but that's the way it goes though. We have typically run well here but it will be more difficult starting in 15th place. These races have come down to pit strategy and this one will probably be no different."

* NOTE: Will be his sixth event here (CART does not acknowledge the 1997 event where he was hit on the 2nd race lap by Gil de Ferran and missed seven races with a broken right leg and left foot - see press kit). Highest finish is third place in 1998 in his return to Australia since the 1997 accident. His highest start is sixth in 1996. In the five events, he finished two (3rd, 5th) but mechanical failures and contact forced him to retire in three (2000 - contact; 1999 - fire, L3: 1995 - transmission).

ESPN's taped delay race broadcast of the Honda Indy 300, round 20 of 21, begins at 1 p.m. ET on Sunday, October 28. Twenty of 21 FedEx Championship Series events are being televised live on ABC-TV or ESPN and 18 are being televised live on Eurosport, a European network that reaches 250 million viewers in 54 countries. Sunday's race will also air on the CART Radio Network - which will provide audio to nearly one million American servicemen and women worldwide through the American Forces Radio Network - and on CART's official website, which will also carry the race, at www.cart.com.

-NHR-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Roberto Moreno , Christian Fittipaldi , Cristiano da Matta