CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Lola Cars race report

Dominguez cops soggy Surfers Race; Weather woes and first lap crash dictate 12th Honda Indy 300. The Gold Coast of Australia has suffered from drought all winter. Respite arrived today. After two hot, sunny qualifying sessions, race day at the...

Dominguez cops soggy Surfers Race; Weather woes and first lap crash dictate 12th Honda Indy 300.

The Gold Coast of Australia has suffered from drought all winter. Respite arrived today. After two hot, sunny qualifying sessions, race day at the Surfers Paradise 2.795-mile street track where CART conducted its 12th annual Honda Indy 300 turned cool (62-69 degrees), wet and windy. The result was a race won on strategy and luck by the #55 Herdez Lola/Ford team and driver Mario Dominguez, who was caught in a 10-car melee as the green flag flew. Patrick Carpentier took second for the #32 Team Players squad, while Paul Tracy earned 3rd place in the #26 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda.

Fourteen cars were running at the close of 40 laps, all but 7 of them run under yellow. Originally set for 70 laps, the distance was shortened to 50 by the first lap accident. Once the conditions proved unsuitable and unsafe for green flag racing, CART halted the show. The second start was not until almost 3:40pm and darkness was falling along with heavy rain, necessitated early closure. Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Lola/Honda and Toranosuke Takagi (#5 Pioneer/Denso Reynard/Toyota) were released from hospital before race-end with slight injury.

"After all the bad luck we've had this year," Dominguez exulted, "I can't believe this. The team did a great job putting the car back together [during the 90 minute red]. I was driving without traction control. The Herdez team got this win -- its first -- with strategy and by fixing the car so well." He pitted four times; most of the field pitted twice. Tracy thought, "it will be pretty brutal today" before the race began. Like the balance of the front-runners, he pitted on lap 10. Tracy's second stop on lap 26 gave him third place.

Kenny Brack was 4th in the #12 Team Target Lola/Toyota after making one of the few competitive passes of the day for 3rd on lap 3, besting #10 Pioneer/WorldCom Lola/Honda driver Tony Kanaan, who came 5th. Alex Tagliani was 6th, while Dario Franchitti took 7th in the #27 Team KOOL Green Lola/Honda. After spinning on lap 33, 2002 CART champ Cristiano da Matta (#1 Caltex/Havoline Lola/Toyota) was eighth. Michael Andretti led six laps in the #39 Team Motorola Lola/Honda and came home 9th. Michel Jourdain Jr. took 10th for the #9 Gigante Lola/Ford entry (his 17th points-paying finish in 17 races, while Christian Fittipaldi recovered from early electronics problems to place 11th in the #11 Lilly Lola/Toyota. Jimmy Vasser got the final point for 12th in his #8 Shell Lola/Ford.

There's a long haul back to U.S. shores for the CART community and next Sunday's The 500 presented by Toyota at California Speedway in Fontana, CA.

-lola-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack , Mario Dominguez , Michel Jourdain , Toranosuke Takagi