CHAMPCAR/CART: Brands Hatch: Team Player's race report

Winning streak ends in England for Team Player's driver Paul Tracy; Teammate Patrick Carpentier posts fifth place finish Kent, England, May 5, 2003 Paul Tracy's three-race winning streak came to an end on Monday as the Team Player's driver was...

Winning streak ends in England for Team Player's driver Paul Tracy; Teammate Patrick Carpentier posts fifth place finish

Kent, England, May 5, 2003 Paul Tracy's three-race winning streak came to an end on Monday as the Team Player's driver was forced out of the London Champ Car Trophy race by a mechanical failure on lap 119 of the 165-lap event. While Tracy was shut out of the points, his teammate Patrick Carpentier produced his best finish of the Champ Car World Series season with a fifth-place effort, up four spots from his position on the starting grid.

Rookie Sebastien Bourdais of France, who qualified on the front row alongside the pole-sitting Tracy, won the race for his first career victory in the Champ Car series, while Bourdais' teammate, Brazilian Bruno Junqueira, was second and Mexico's Mario Dominguez took third for his second career podium. Canadian Alex Tagliani, who led some laps in the latter stages of the race before having to pit, finished eighth.

The outcome of this fourth race of the season tightened the drivers' standings, as Tracy saw his lead over Junqueira, his closest pursuer, cut to 11 points (65-54). Carpentier continued his climb up the standings, moving into fifth with 28 points, while Tagliani stands ninth with 22 points.

Tracy, seeking to win his fourth straight race and equal a feat achieved by only three other drivers since the inception of the Champ Car series in 1979, led for the first 54 laps, before his first pit stop. Bourdais, who pitted a lap later, assumed the lead when he returned and dominated for the rest of the race. Tracy was still running second after his second pit stop, but plumes of smoke appeared from the back of the car as he started getting up to speed after pitting.

"We had issues with the gearbox during the race," explained Tracy. "Sometimes it would shift by itself. Three or four laps before the car shut down, I heard some noise, and then the car started smoking a bit. When I was rolling down the hill, I had no gearbox. Otherwise, the car was running well, although even though I'm fairly good with fuel consumption, some drivers seemed to be able to make more laps than me. This is something Team Player's is going to look into.

"Coming away with no points hurts a lot. It's never good to give away points like this. It's taken away whatever cushion we had in the standings. Besides being very disappointing, not finishing was also costly in that respect."

Carpentier, who went from ninth to seventh place with a flawless pit stop on lap 51, said a misunderstanding because of the audio cutting out on his radio, may have cost him even better track position. "Before this first stop, the crew started to talk to me on the radio, and I wasn't able to hear all they were saying because the sound cut out," explained Carpentier. "I thought they were calling me to follow the others into the pits, but as it turned out, we could have done three or four more laps, and that might have made a difference at the finish.

"Finishing fifth has never been my goal, but when you look at how the weekend went, being near the back of the field in practice and then in the middle of the pack in qualifying, I'll take fifth as a race result. Things are coming around and the season is young."

The Champ Car World Series completes its two-race European schedule next Sunday, May 11, with the first oval race of the season - on the EuroSpeedway in Lausitz, Germany.

-tp-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais