Great Performance Slips Away From Great Finishes
Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia - The final race event of the 2008 IRL season ended with more great potential shown by Bruno Junqueira and rookie Mario Moraes. The two Dale Coyne Racing drivers showed their top ten potential only to have an unfortunate series of events relegate them down the grid.
Mario Moraes, the talented rookie Brazilian started an impressive 11th at a track known for giving great difficulty to first time participants.
"We have brought many rookies here and Surfers is a difficult track to learn in your first year," commented team owner Dale Coyne.
Mario started the Sonny's Bar-B-Q/SunrichGourmet.com car in 11th place after a rainy qualifying. "I was happy with qualifying and the car was really good," reported the talented 19 year old, "I think I was just caught up in a couple of tight spots in the race which caused my problems today."
Mario started 11th and was involved in a first lap turn one spin and contact with another car which moved him back in the field. Mario charged forward passing several cars before just clipping an outside tire barrier in turn 2 which broke some left rear suspension and ended what has been an ever improving rookie season.
"I can't say enough about the advancements that this young driver has shown this year," said Coyne, "He came here at age 19 with little experience and has really come of age in this the highest and most diverse type of racing."
Bruno Junqueira was headed toward a solid top 5 finish when a hit from behind cut down a tire and ruined any chance of a top finish. "We qualified poorly, but the car was really really good in the race," expressed Junqueira. "I could have easily set fastest time if I wanted to in the last stint, but I respected the guys running for position as our extra pit stop for the flat tire really cost us a top five or even a possible podium like last year here for Dale."
On the third restart, Justin Wilson attempted a pass on Bruno Junqueira going into turn 4 but was not up beside him and simple hit Bruno's Z-Line Design car in the left rear with his right front wing leading edge. The hit immediately deflated the 18 car's tire and forced Bruno to limp to the pit for an unplanned stop. At the time Bruno was running in front of Oriol Servia who would go to finish 5th. Bruno showed his performance by setting the fourth fastest race lap at the end of second stint on old tires.
The transition year into the IRL has had mixed blessing for the hard working Coyne team. Solid speed has been shown by both Bruno Junqueira and Mario Moraes on all of the tracks they run. From solid qualifying at Indy, to near wins at Watkins Glen and a possible podium at Chicagoland for Mario Moraes, the team enters the off season with great optimism to make 2009 even better.