CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Player's Gold Coast race report

Surfers Paradise, Australia, October 28, 2001 Alex Tagliani of Team Player's earned his second podium of the FedEx CART Championship season on Sunday with a third-place finish in the Honda Indy 300 on the 4.49-kilometre course through the streets...

Surfers Paradise, Australia, October 28, 2001 Alex Tagliani of Team Player's earned his second podium of the FedEx CART Championship season on Sunday with a third-place finish in the Honda Indy 300 on the 4.49-kilometre course through the streets of Surfers Paradise. In garnering Team Player's sixth podium of the season, Tagliani drove to his second best finish this year, next to his second-place effort at Molson Indy Toronto.

Team Player's driver Patrick Carpentier also made it into the points, staging a brilliant comeback from the back of the grid, where he had been placed after being assessed a pit-violation penalty while pitting on lap 24, to finish in 11th place.

Brazil's Cristiano da Matta, who took over the lead for good with 13 laps to go in the 65-lap event, won his second race of the season, crossing the finish line ahead of Michael Andretti of the United States. Brazilian Gil de Ferran was just behind Tagliani in fourth place, a position that enabled de Ferran to clinch his second straight drivers' crown. In doing so, he became the fourth driver in CART history to win consecutive titles.

Tagliani, who started from seventh position on the grid, got ahead of Andretti on the opening lap, just before the race's first caution flag. Tagliani was among the front-runners throughout the race, which included two flawless pit stops by Team Player's. He yielded fourth place to de Ferran on lap 53 but regained it on the next lap and then took third on the same lap, when Moreno was forced to retire with gearbox problems.

"The podium finish is extremely satisfying," said Tagliani, who collected 14 points for his efforts and has 65 for the season, surpassing the 51 points he amassed in his rookie season last year. "I worked real hard for this one, and my crew did its usual outstanding job. Over the last eight qualifying sessions, I've been able to be in the fast group and that has enabled me to start closer to the front. Plus, we've had a very competitive car for practically every race. If we start next season the way we're ending this year, we should be in for a great season."

Carpentier, who was running third when he pitted, was relegated to the back of the field 22nd place because it was ruled that he had gone into the pits before they were opened during a caution on lap 24. Carpentier expressed surprise that the pits were off-limits "because usually they don't close the pits on a road course. I guess we got caught off guard. But I'm not upset about it because I really didn't have any choice. I was out of fuel and I had to come in. It was either that or being stuck out on the track. I'm happy that I was able to go from last to 11th. It shows that I had desire and determination."

The final race of the 2001 CART season is on tap next Sunday, November 4, a 500-mile event on the super-speedway in Fontana, California. In a 500-mile race on the Michigan super oval earlier this season, Carpentier produced his first career win in the CART series.

-Player's-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Michael Andretti , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Cristiano da Matta