FedEx Championship Series Report Race: Molson Indy Toronto, Exhibition Place, Toronto, Ontario, Canada Date/Session: Friday, July 14, 2000 Provisional Qualifying Mercedes-Benz Powers Gugelmin and Herta into Top 10 at Toronto ...
FedEx Championship Series Report
Race: Molson Indy Toronto, Exhibition Place, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date/Session: Friday, July 14, 2000 Provisional Qualifying
Mercedes-Benz Powers Gugelmin and Herta into Top 10 at Toronto Provisional Qualifying
Defending race champion Dario Franchitti took the provisional pole as two Mercedes drivers piloted into the top 10 for Sunday's Molson Indy Toronto, the mid-point of the 20-race CART FedEx Championship Series. Franchitti's hot lap of 58.877 seconds (107.308 mph) over the 1.755-mile temporary street circuit came in the closing minutes of the second qualifying session. Heavy rains had drenched the race track during the first of two sessions, but the racing surface gradually dried -- and the lap times quickened considerably -- in the final moments.
Mauricio Gugelmin, coming off a strong result at Cleveland in his last start, qualified eighth with a lap of 60.206 seconds (104.940 mph), a personal best at Toronto for the Brazilian driver. Gugelmin suffered clutch problems in the morning practice, forcing him to continue in his backup PacWest Nextel Mercedes for the rest of that session. The crew repaired the primary car for qualifying, and Gugelmin was among the top five for most of the second session before being pipped at the end.
"The guys did a great job of putting my primary car back together so quickly," said Gugelmin. "During the session, I was the first one to change from rain tires to slicks. I knew that if I could manage to stay on the track, it would get better and I would be all right because the tires would get warmer as the track became drier. It turned out to be the right strategy. We lacked a little balance as a result of not having time with the car in the morning, and we ran into a little traffic at the end, but I'm pretty happy. If the weather holds tomorrow, we should do even better."
Bryan Herta, substituting for injured Tony Kanaan in the Hollywood/Mo Nunn Racing Mercedes-Benz, clocked a quick lap of 60.781 seconds (103.947 mph) to take ninth place on the provisional grid, equaling his career-best qualifying effort at the popular Canadian event.
"The conditions were not brilliant, but they were better than this morning's session," said the American pilot. "Mercedes-Benz has made some improvements to the engine that have really helped me, which is very encouraging. We're in the fast (qualifying) group tomorrow, so I hope it doesn't rain so we have a shot at moving up toward the front."
Mark Blundell, who won the Toronto event in 1997, was in the first group and suffered through the rainy track conditions. The Brit had his PacWest Motorola Mercedes at the top of the grid for most of that session with a hot lap of 69.505 seconds (90.900 mph) before dropping to fourth for the group, and 15th on the provisional grid.
"We had a good race car in the wet," said Blundell. "We're making steady progress with the car."
Michel Jourdain Jr. qualified 19th in his Herdez/Bettenhausen Motorsports Mercedes with a lap in 70.434 seconds (89.701 mph), while Luiz Garcia Jr. was 25th (72.677 seconds/86.933 mph).
Final qualifying begins Saturday at 1:45 p.m. The green flag for the Molson Indy Toronto waves at 1:15 p.m. Sunday (ESPN-TV, 3 p.m.).
<pre> Provisional Qualifying, Molson Indy Toronto Toronto, Ontario, Canada July 14, 2000
Pos. Driver Engine Time Speed 1 Dario Franchitti Honda 58.877 107.308 2 Juan Montoya Toyota 58.897 107.272 3 Helio Castroneves Honda 59.436 106.299 4 Michael Andretti Ford Cosworth 59.529 106.133 5 Gil de Ferran Honda 59.542 106.110 6 Jimmy Vasser Toyota 59.889 105.495 7 Oriol Servia Toyota 60.133 105.067 8 Mauricio Gugelmin Mercedes-Benz 60.206 104.940 9 Bryan Herta Mercedes-Benz 60.781 103.947 10 Cristiano da Matta Toyota 61.340 103.000 15 Mark Blundell Mercedes-Benz 69.505 90.900 19 Michel Jourdain Jr. Mercedes-Benz 70.434 89.701 25 Luiz Garcia Jr. Mercedes-Benz 72.677 86.933