CHAMPCAR/CART: Brands Hatch: Notes of Interest, schedule

WHO'S HOT * Championship points leader Paul Tracy ( ...

WHO'S HOT

* Championship points leader Paul Tracy (#3 Player's/Indeck Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Player's/Forsythe Racing took advantage of the misfortunes of Mexican Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) at Long Beach in Round 3 of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford and outdueled Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) to the stripe to go a perfect three-for-three on the season heading into the Champ Car's return visit to the famed Brands Hatch circuit in England for the London Champ Car Trophy. The Canadian's three-peat did not go unheralded, as the Legends Marketing Group named him the winner of the national Driver of the Quarter award over many of the top drivers in North American auto racing. Tracy seeks his fourth-straight win in England, a mark that would put the "Thrill From West Hill" in exclusive company with 2002 series champion Cristiano da Matta, Alex Zanardi (1998) and Al Unser Jr. (1990) as a co-owner of the all-time CART record for consecutive wins. Tracy leads Brazilian Bruno Junqueira (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) 64 to 38 in points heading to Europe.

* Team Rahal's pilot Michel Jourdain comes off his best and quite possibly most disappointing race of his Champ Car career in Long Beach. The determined 26-year-old pilot snared his first career pole and led a race high 30 laps but was devastated on Lap 83 of 90 when mechanical gremlins robbed him of his first win (123 Champ Car starts) when pitting for the final time. Jourdain retired on Pit Lane and finished 15th, moving him from second to third in points behind Junqueira with 34.

* The sole owner/driver in Champ Car competition Adrian Fernandez moved into the fourth slot in points with 28 in Long Beach after notching his first podium finish since Milwaukee last year with a third place result. The podium also marked his first in 11 Long Beach starts for the third winningest driver in the current Champ Car field.

* Bruno Junqueira of Newman/Haas Racing comes to historic Brands Hatch after scoring his second podium (St. Petersburg) and third top five in the opening three rounds of the Champ Car World Series. An early display of consistency has the Belo Horizonte, Brazil native second in points, but the Newman/Haas Racing squad will look to get teammate Sebastien Bourdais (#2 Lilly Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of France up to speed in the point race. The rookie started from pole in the first two rounds this season, but stands 16th in points with five after two DNFs.

* The recently formed American Spirit Team Johansson squad owned by former Champ Car competitor Stefan Johansson took major strides in Long Beach, showing the two-car team comprised of 1996 Champion Jimmy Vasser (#12 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard Bridgestone) and rookie Ryan Hunter-Reay (#31 American Spirit Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) could be competitive. Vasser moved to fifth in points with 20 after bringing the top-finishing Reynard chassis home fourth from the 14th starting position on the grid. Hunter-Reay led the rookie contingent and continued to gain experience with a seventh place run. Hunter-Reay will head to England 13th in points with seven.

* With a fifth place finish, Mario Dominguez (#55 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Herdez Competition enjoyed his second career top five finish in Long Beach after starting 11th on the grid. Dominguez is currently 11th in points with 10.

* With a ninth place run in SoCal, Brazilian Mario Haberfeld (#34 Mi-Jack/Conquest Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) retained his edge in the Rookie of the Year standings with 16 championship points, just in front of Englishman Darren Manning (#15 RAC/Walker Racing Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) with 11. Manning will be the hometown favorite at Brands Hatch having grown up in nearby North Yorkshire, England. Also keep in mind he led 18 laps en route to a ninth place finish in his Champ Car debut at Rockingham Motor Speedway in 2002.

ON THE RIGHT TRACK

* Although none of the current crop of pilots were around for the 1978 running of the Champ Cars at Brands Hatch won by three-time CART champion Rick Mears (1979, 1981-82), the reuniting of the 750hp machines on the famed course will be on display on the 1.2-mile Indy circuit May 5th. Paul Tracy, Roberto Moreno (#4 Herdez Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) of Herdez Competition and Darren Manning are just a few drivers that come in having the benefit of prior experience on the permanent road course earlier in their careers.

BY THE NUMBERS

* As Presenting Sponsor and Official Tire supplier for the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, Bridgestone will have their hands full supplying Champ Car teams with enough racing Potenzas (slicks and treaded) for the back-to-back European dates in England and Germany. For England, Bridgestone tire engineers will prepare 608 slicks and 340 treaded Potenzas. For Germany, 858 slicks will be on hand for the superspeedway event. The total number of Bridgestone Potenza tires for both events totals 1,806. The approximate weight total of the tires is 41,600 pounds (almost 21 tons).

NOTEWORTHY

* CART Champ Car and Road America reached a two-year agreement to reinstate the Champ Car event at the Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin track. This year's event will be known as the Mario Andretti Grand Prix at Road America, and will take place August 3.

* Champ Car World Series officials recently announced that they have adopted a new set of rules that will ensure that the competition level will be the equal of any series that has participated at Brands Hatch. The 19 cars of the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will take to the tricky seven-turn 1.2-mile Brands Hatch track for the May 3-5 London Champ Car Trophy event, and will do so under new single-event guidelines that will enhance competition along with providing maximum safety for drivers and teams. Addressing driver's concerns over the ability to get a clear qualifying lap on the 1.2-mile short course, Champ Car adopted a single-car qualifying format that will give each competitor six laps to chase the pole position, with four of those laps being timed. The running order for the first round of qualifying will be set by practice times while Sunday's final qualifying order will be based on the Saturday results. In accordance with new rules put in place in 2002, there is a single championship point available to the leaders of both qualifying sessions, and the fastest car in each session is guaranteed a front-row starting spot for Monday's 165-lap race. The other change goes into effect on race day, as Champ Car management and its teams voted to revoke the mandatory pit windows for the Brands Hatch event. The pit windows have been replaced for the event by a rule that states that each car must complete two pit stops under green-flag conditions. The green-flag service must include a four-tire change in order to count toward the two mandatory stops. Teams may pit under caution periods at will, but can only add fuel to the car, and can only have two team members over the wall during a yellow-flag stop.

* Brands Hatch's history as a speed venue dates back to 1926 when a group of cyclists stopped to investigate a mushroom field at Brands Hatch Farm. A natural bowl, it was ideal for cycling and pace-making and, with the farmer's approval, quickly developed into a popular venue.

FAST FACTS

London Champ Car Trophy
Brands Hatch Indy Circuit
Saturday-Monday, May 3-5

CHAMP CAR SCHEDULE (All times local):

SATURDAY, MAY 3:
Champ Car practice, 10:00 - 10:50 a.m.
Champ Car practice, 11:40 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Champ Car qualifying, 2:30 - 3:30 p.m.

SUNDAY, MAY 4:
Champ Car practice, 10:00 - 11:15 a.m.
Champ Car qualifying, 1:45 - 2:45 p.m

MONDAY, MAY 5:
Champ Car warmup, 10:00 - 10:30 a.m.
London Champ Car Trophy, 2:00 p.m.

U.S. TELEVISION SCHEDULE:

SATURDAY, MAY 4:
CBS Sports, Season Preview/Qualifying Highlights, 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time

SATURDAY, MAY 10:
CBS Sports, London Champ Car Trophy, 1:00 p.m. ET.

NEXT EVENT: May 11, German 500, EuroSpeedway Lausitz, Lausitz, Germany.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mario Haberfeld , Darren Manning , Stefan Johansson , Al Unser Jr. , Jimmy Vasser , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Paul Tracy , Alex Zanardi , Mario Dominguez , Mario Andretti , Rick Mears , Sébastien Bourdais , Cristiano da Matta , Michel Jourdain