Monterrey, Mexico, March 7, 2001 In a FedEx CART Championship that figures to be as intensely competitive as ever, Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani are poised to power their way to contending status in the 2001 season a...
Monterrey, Mexico, March 7, 2001 In a FedEx CART Championship that figures to be as intensely competitive as ever, Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani are poised to power their way to contending status in the 2001 season a 21-race campaign that starts Sunday with the first-ever Grand Prix of Monterrey.
"Our off-season testing program went really well, and we're well prepared for the start of the season," said Carpentier, who just missed cracking the top 10 in the drivers' standings last season, when he compiled a career-best 101 points despite missing three races because of a broken wrist. "We added some key technical people during the off-season and we've managed to develop a good chemistry. I'm expecting some big things this year. This is my fourth year with the team, and my time is now."
While Team Player's enters the new season with its driver lineup intact, its key additions from a technical standpoint include Bruce Ashmore, the former Reynard executive who was hired as the Team Player's technical director, and Tony Cicale, the highly regarded racing engineer who has been brought in as a special advisor. Cicale, who has been a part of 23 Champ Car wins in his illustrious career including five by Team Player's driver Jacques Villeneuve in 1994-95 will be working predominantly with Tagliani and his engineering crew.
"Tony and I spent a lot of time this winter talking over every aspect of racing," said Tagliani, who displayed outstanding promise in his rookie season of 2000. "He's already helped me a lot and I'm sure he will be a major asset for the entire team this season."
Since completing its off-season testing program last week, Team Player's has spent much of its time drawing on the data it compiled. This information has helped in devising the car set-ups that will be used on race weekend on the 2-mile Fundidora Park road course, a 12-turn track whose chicanes and S-curve will present a formidable challenge to the drivers.
"From what I've been told, it's a very technical track that puts your driving skills and your whole technical package to a test," said Carpentier. "It's a fast track with some decent passing zones, especially in turns 3 and 4 after you come out of the chicane."
Team Player's has an impressive record in season-opening races. Since entering the CART series in 1994, Team Player's drivers have earned points in nine of 10 tries, including race victories by Greg Moore in 1999 and Jacques Villeneuve in 1995.
In the season-opener a year ago on the Homestead oval in Florida Tagliani twice had the race lead, but a rookie mistake resulted in a penalty that set him back, and he had to settle for a ninth-place finish. Tagliani said he is determined to use such incidents as a learning experience to constantly improve as a driver in his sophomore season.
"I know you can't be first every weekend but when you're running up front and you have the speed and a strong-performing car, you need to be able to take advantage of that," declared Tagliani. "I know that with the talent there is in the CART series, this season is going to be quite a battle. But I've always been a battler and I'm going to be giving everything I have in every race."
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 NEWS BUREAU SERVICES PROVIDED FOR THE GRAND PRIX OF MONTERREY
The Team Player's News Bureau will send out results of the drivers, along with comments by Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani, on a daily basis. CNW photos will be sent during the weekend on the Canadian Press wire.