<pre> Sunday, April 30, 2000 Rio 200 Race Report Circuit: Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway (1.8-mile oval) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 1999 Winner: Juan Montoya (Honda) 125.120 mph race average Weather: Clear,...
<pre> Sunday, April 30, 2000 Rio 200
Race Report Circuit: Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway (1.8-mile oval) Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 1999 Winner: Juan Montoya (Honda) 125.120 mph race average Weather: Clear, hot, 92-degrees F
Race Results: Fin. St. Driver Manufacturer Laps Average Speed/Notes 1. 16. Adrian Fernandez Ford Cosworth 108 124.256 mph 2. 6. Jimmy Vasser Toyota 108 -0.931 seconds 3. 3. Paul Tracy Honda 108 -1.338 seconds 4. 17. Cristiano da Matta Toyota 108 -1.581 seconds 5. 5. Christian Fittipaldi Ford Cosworth 108 -2.356 seconds 6. 12. Roberto Moreno Ford Cosworth 108 -3.687 seconds 7. 23. Mark Blundell Mercedes-Benz 108 -5.079 seconds 8. 11. Memo Gidley Ford Cosworth 108 -6.504 seconds 9. 15. Michael Andretti Ford Cosworth 107 Running 10. 4. Kenny Brack Ford Cosworth 107 Running 11. 8. Dario Franchitti Honda 107 Running 12. 25. Luiz Garcia Jr. Mercedes-Benz 104 Running 17. 13. Gil de Ferran Honda 79 Exhaust 20. 20. Bryan Herta Honda 54 Gearbox 24. 7. Helio Castro-Neves Honda 22 Gearbox
</pre> Tracy Third in Rio, Continues to Lead Championship
Paul Tracy coupled a strong drive with just a touch of luck to finish third for Honda today at the Rio 200. It was the Team KOOL Green driver's third consecutive podium (top three) finish in as many races this season, giving him an early six-point lead in the fight for the CART FedEx Championship Series title.
Tracy started third, his best qualifying effort of the season, and had his pit crew trim out (reduce the wing angle) at each of his two scheduled pit stops to increase his top speed along the Rio circuit's nearly mile-long front straight. The Canadian the n dodged a bullet near the end of the 108-lap contest when rookie race leader Alex Tagliani spun in turn one. Tracy hit the stationary car, damaging his front wing, but was able to hang on to third when Tagliani spun a second time on the restart, ensuring that the race ended under caution.
Teammate Dario Franchitti was not so lucky, spinning and stalling in avoidance of the original incident, dropping him off the lead lap to an 11th place finish.
Mechanical problems halted the three other Honda-powered drivers today. Transmission failures ended the runs for Walker Racing's Bryan Herta and Helio Castro-Neves' Marlboro Team Penske machine. And hot gasses from an exhaust leak burned through the shif t cable of Gil de Ferran, in the second Penske Honda, while running solidly in the top ten.
From here, the CART FedEx Championship continues it's Spring "World Tour", heading to Honda's Twin Ring Motegi Circuit north of Tokyo, Japan, for the second of four consecutive oval track races.
PAUL TRACY (#26 Team KOOL Green Honda) Started 3rd, Finished 3rd, his third podium finish in as many races this season, continues to lead the driver's points standings: "We started the race with too much downforce, so Juan (Montoya) and Alex (Tagliani) ki nda took off from me. But we trimmed the car out at the first stop, and took more wing off at the second. That helped a lot and I caught back up with Jimmy (Vasser) and Adrian (Fernandez). We got lucky on that thing with Tagliani. I hit him after he sp un (in turn one) and damaged my left front wing pretty severely. But the car was running good all day long. Honda gave us good, consistent power all day long. The Firestone tires held up really well and the guys gave me a couple of great stops. It was another great day for the whole team."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (#27 Team KOOL Green Honda) Started 8th, Finished 11th: "I guess the last incident was kind of typical of how our day went. I wasn't going that fast, but when I but on the brakes and started looking for a way through to avoid Tagliani the car just swapped ends and the engine stalled. During the race, the car wasn't all that great. We had a little bit of everything, both understeer and oversteer, and I couldn't fight for the positions we needed. I had to brake so early, and didn't have m uch corner exit speed either. But the guys did a great job in the pits, they never gave up. That's one of our strengths. We were running sixth near the end, but that stall hurt us. We still ended up in the points, but they were not equal to the effort. "
GIL de FERRAN (#2 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Started 13th, Finished 17th: "I stayed out of trouble at the start, but about halfway through the first stint started to lose speed on the straights. Then the gear lever stuck, so I came into the pits and the team found that the exhaust collector bolt strap tore out of the header. That caused the exhaust to burn through the shift cable and part of the body work. It's my first DNF and its unfortunate because the Marlboro car was really good today."
BRYAN HERTA (#5 Avex Group/Walker Racing Honda) Started 20th, Finished 20th: "The gearbox went away all at once. We had a similar problem testing at Firebird last month. It's a shame. We weren't very fast on full tanks, but the car got better as the ru n went on, and was pretty quick at the end. I thought we were looking at scoring some points today."
HELIO CASTRO-NEVES (#3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) Started 7th, Finished 24th (not running - gearbox): "First, I lost fourth gear, then fifth. I tried to continue by just using third and sixth (gears), but then I couldn't downshift in any gear. It's a s hame because the car was good all weekend and we were looking forward to building on the momentum from Long Beach."