Saturday WarmUp 9:00 AM. Toronto Molson Indy By Kristian Steenstrup, Motorsport News international Business commenced at 9:00 on a warm and humid day at Toronto's Exhibition Place temporary street circuit. Carrying on from the progress ...
Saturday WarmUp 9:00 AM. Toronto Molson Indy By Kristian Steenstrup, Motorsport News international
Business commenced at 9:00 on a warm and humid day at Toronto's Exhibition Place temporary street circuit. Carrying on from the progress with settings yesterday, most went out to improve their potential for speed for the afternoon's qualifying, and to hone race settings. As the number of laps ticked off the majority of drivers were putting in a small number of laps before returning for adjustments.
Early on there was some exploration of the ultimate speed potential from Adrian Fernandez and Tony Kanaan. The session was stopped with 24 minutes to go for an accident involving PJ Jones. He missed his braking point and slid in to the tire barrier without injury. It was enough to derange the front end and he was obliged to walk back to the pits while the Visteon team retrieved the spare car from the paddock.
With the session restarted business returned to normal. Michael Andretti also went straight on down an escape road but returned to the circuit without damage. Clearly he was looking for an improvement as he explored the envelope of braking distance. Towards the end of the 90 minutes session Helio Castro-Neves improved markedly on his 26th lap. In each session he has consistently put in a larger number of laps than most to hone his car and 'memorize' the circuit. As his fuel lightened he went faster again on his 27th to set what would be the fastest lap at 58.686 seconds.
With only 11 minutes to go the session was stopped again for debris on the circuit and it looked at that stage that everyone was poised to have a final burst of speed but the track did not seem to be grippy enough to get big improvements. With 4 minutes to go Michael Andretti cruised down the back straight allowing others to pass him to ensure a clear track for a flying lap. This sequence of laps gave him second fastest, but could not overhaul the effort of Helio Castro-Neves. The Hogan Lola did a marathon 35 laps during the session and it bodes well for Sunday success from the unsponsored team. It also contrasts nicely with a press release discounting rumors that Castro-Neves has been signed by McLaren Mercedes to join its driver development program. Mercedes denied this. Carl Hogan must fear history repeating having lost Franchitti a couple of seasons ago when he had discovered a diamond in the rough.
"We have been very pleased with Helio's attitude, performance and professionalism. Helio is under contract to Hogan Racing. We have an option for 2000 which we intend to exercise", said Carl Hogan, team owner.
Curiously Montoya did not feature at the top of the lists. He put in 17 laps, getting faster as the session moved on, but ended in 14th position. Third in the session was Adrian Fernandez whose Patrick Racing Reynard completed a 58.789 second lap early in the session. Fourth and fifth were Pruett and Gugelmin who saved the best till last and got their fastest laps on their final tour. Once again the times underlined the competitive nature of Champ Car racing as the top 22 cars were covered by only one second.