CHAMPCAR/CART: CART chases the rain away in Gold Coast

By Kristian Steenstrup - Motorsport.com Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia -- (Oct. 13, 2000) -- The CART teams came all the way across the Pacific Ocean to be greeted on the opening day of practice with a light rain that intermittently...

By Kristian Steenstrup - Motorsport.com

Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia -- (Oct. 13, 2000) -- The CART teams came all the way across the Pacific Ocean to be greeted on the opening day of practice with a light rain that intermittently dampened the track and the mood, but then brightened up to allow the sun to poke out and the track to dry out. The changeable conditions in the opening session meant that the times were even less representative than normal.

Each of the teams started the session with wet weather tires and a great deal of patience as they slowly played themselves in. It was a good hour into the 90 minute session before all the drivers were under 2 minutes for a lap. Montoya had taken the early running with a reasonable pace 30 minutes into the session. He remained at or near the top of the times and was joined by Fittipaldi, da Matta (who started in the 'X' car but changed to the primary car with much gesticulation about a front-end imbalance) Kanaan and deFerren.

The rain disappeared long enough for the teams to go to dry tires an start to put in representative laps under 1 minute 40 seconds. No serious incidents of note occurred in the session and the rookie Jason Bright of Australia was acquitting himself well in front of his home crowd. If anyone was looking for an Olympic standard performance they would be disappointed. After Australia won so many medals at the Olympics the fans may have been expecting more. But a steady performance turning in smooth controlled laps was what was needed for this session and he delivered. Finally ending up in 23rd place with an undamaged car and 19 steady, but relatively slow, laps under his belt.

Helio Castroneves interrupted the session with 20 minutes to go when he misjudged the back chicane and bounced of the kerbs heading straight off, at a relatively slow pace, into the tire wall. After that stoppage and one for Christian Fittipaldi with a mechanical failure the sun came out much brighter and the pace quickened considerably. The cars started to get down to more representative times in the final minutes with Max Papis , Jimmy Vasser and Paul Tracy topping the times and all under 1:35. Alex Tagliani, Kenny Brack, Michael Andretti and Juan Montoya followed with Shinji Nakano surprising with a good opening account in either place.

The overall result from the session was that all the teams had bedded in their race cars and in most cases their spare cars as well for the afternoon qualifying.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Shinji Nakano , Kenny Brack , Jason Bright