CHAMPCAR/CART: Denver: Team Player's Friday qualifying report

Rugged ride for Team Player's drivers in first qualifying session on the streets of Denver. Denver, Colorado, August 30, 2002 A bumpy and slippery street course made life miserable for Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier on Friday, as the Team...

Rugged ride for Team Player's drivers in first qualifying session on the streets of Denver.

Denver, Colorado, August 30, 2002 A bumpy and slippery street course made life miserable for Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier on Friday, as the Team Player's drivers recorded the 16th and 18th fastest times in the first qualifying session for Sunday's inaugural Grand Prix of Denver, the 14th race of the season in the FedEx CART Championship.

Mexico's Adrian Fernandez, 16th overall in qualifying in Montreal last weekend, was one of the few to have moderate success on the rough, predominantly concrete 1.65-mile Denver street circuit. He took the provisional pole in a time of 1 minute, 2.073 seconds (an average speed of 153.724 kms/h), .367seconds over Brazil's Christian Fittipaldi.

"It's very, very rough," Tagliani said of the Denver layout. "We tried all kinds of combinations with the shocks and springs, and nothing seems to work. We need a stiffer car for traction, but when you do that it becomes difficult to stay off the wall because the car is bouncing around all over the place. Right now, Team Player's is trying to come up with a car that has good braking in the corners, is able to make the turn well and has good accelerate once it comes out of the turn. As far as balance goes, we're not even at that stage yet."

Compounding the problem in today's qualifying, the session was frequently disrupted by red flags as a result of on-track incidents. In fact, the last five minutes of the session ticked away under a red flag. The stoppages made it difficult to run hot laps.

Carpentier described the street course as one of the bumpiest he has ever raced on in the CART series, a sentiment that was echoed by other drivers. Carpentier said the slowness of the circuit is especially difficult for the Reynard chassis used by Team Player's.

"It's such a small street course that it seems like you're always in first or second gear," explained Carpentier, who is currently third in the CART drivers' standings and needs all the points he can compile over the final six races to close the gap that stands between him and points' leader Cristiano da Matta. "And with the bumps, the car is always landing hard on the concrete surface. I've been in some motocross events before where it wasn't as bumpy as it was out there today."

"Based on the way things went today, a lot of people must be frustrated," remarked Carpentier. "Our engineers have a lot of work ahead of them, and even then there's no guarantee that we'll be able to get much grip under these track conditions."

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix of Denver throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race on tape delay on The Sports Network starting at 8:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.

-player's-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Cristiano da Matta