FedEx Championship Series Report
Race: Molson Indy Toronto, Exhibition Place, Toronto, Canada Date/Session: Friday, July 16, 1999 Provisional Qualifying
Castro-Neves, Moore in Top 10 at Molson Indy Provisional Qualifying
The second half of the 1999 CART FedEx Championship Series season began today on the temporary street circuit of the Molson Indy, and Mercedes-Benz answered the call by powering drivers Helio Castro-Neves and Greg Moore to top-10 placings in provisional qualifying. Brazilian Castro-Neves and Canadian Moore were seventh- and ninth-quickest over the 1.721-mile course at Toronto's Exhibition Place. The pair, and five other drivers powered by Mercedes-Benz IC108E Phase III (E3) V8s, will have another chance to better provisional polesitter Dario Franchitti's time of 57.951 seconds (109.023 mph) during tomorrow afternoon's final qualifying sessions.
Castro-Neves' quick lap today in his No. 9 Hogan Racing Mercedes was 58.534 seconds (107.937 mph), good enough for seventh position on the grid. Moore, who is currently sixth in the tightly-bunched driver's championship points standings, posted a provisional qualifying time of 58.689 seconds (107.731 mph) for ninth place.
Roberto Moreno, continuing his "Super Sub" duties for injured PacWest Motorola Mercedes pilot Mark Blundell, completed a provisional qualifying lap this afternoon of 58.745 seconds (107.550 mph) for 11th place. PacWest Hollywood Mercedes pilot Mauricio Gugelmin was 17th with a lap time of 59.120 seconds (106.867 seconds). Marlboro Team Penske's Al Unser Jr. lapped the temporary circuit in 61.177 seconds (103.274 mph), while Epson Bettenhausen Motorsports rookie Shigeaki Hattori was 27th (63.215 seconds/99.945 mph).
CART practice continues tomorrow morning, and final qualifying will be held from 12:45 to 2:00 p.m. (EDT). The green flag for the Molson Indy Toronto will wave Sunday, July 18, at 2 p.m. EDT (tape delay, ABC-TV, 3 p.m.).
Helio Castro-Neves, No. 9, Hogan Racing Mercedes/Firestone (Seventh/58.534 seconds) "Everything went the way that I like it, and we had a session with no problems. This is important for us. We have to work a lot tomorrow, but we have good tires and a good engine. I have been dying to get into the fast group, and I'm confident that we are going to be able to do well tomorrow." Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (Ninth/ 58.689 seconds) "As it turned out, we went quickest on our first set of tires. After the first lap, you start losing grip. Tires will definitely be a factor if it stays this hot all weekend." Roberto Moreno, No. 18, Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (11th/ 58.745 seconds) "Today's qualifying went really well, and I think we got the most out of the car. We're improving in steps, and I think we can find more speed tomorrow. This is the first time that I've driven on this circuit, and I like it. It's as challenging as ever, but safer." Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (13th/ 58.811 seconds) "There is still some push in the car on the corners. The track seems bumpier this year. The team will look at the springs and the suspension to adjust the car so that I can't feel those bumps. Tomorrow should be a better day for us."
Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (17th/59.120 seconds) "This morning the car was pushing, so we made some changes that helped to reduce the understeer. Still, the car is sliding too much. We're going to work on getting more mechanical grip."