CHAMPCAR/CART: Ford racing Motegi Qualifying

FORD-COSWORTH POWERED CARS TAKE SIX OF THE TOP NINE STARTING POSITIONS FOR SATURDAY'S FIRESTONE 500 AT TWIN RING MOTEGI MAX PAPIS -7- Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 3rd - "We have worked very hard all weekend and Ford has come here with...


MAX PAPIS -7- Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 3rd - "We have worked very hard all weekend and Ford has come here with a very, very strong engine. We have a great chance for a very strong race tomorrow. We have a way better race car than a qualifying car. From my position now it looks very good for the race. At this track there is only one corner that counts. Tomorrow is going to be different. I don't know how many people are going o be able to go flat out through (turns) one and two during the race. I tell you though if I am back here (on the podium) tomorrow we will have to go out and have a party.

ON THE SETUP OF TWIN RING MOTEGI . . . "One thing that is different about this track is that there is a relatively slow corner compared to the faster corner at the other end. There are situations where you have to brake and sometimes you have to downshift which allows you opportunities to overtake. I could see that from the back of the pack last year."

BRYAN HERTA -8- Shell Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 8th - "We are struggling here a bit. We need about two more day of running here before we race. The car is real sketchy and loose. I don't really know why because Max (Papis) is good here and Bobby (Rahal) had a good car here last year but it has not been very good for me at all. We have been changing a lot of things and it has made the car better every session. I had an electronic problem with the motor and I thought I was going to have to come in and pit because the car would not go over about 120 mph on the first lap until I fixed it. This is the kind of place that you really have to wind up the speed so that hurt me a bit too."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ -40- Tecate/Quaker State Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 4th - "We have a good race car and we are in good shape for tomorrow. I don't think we had the right gear in the car for qualifying and that cost us a little bit. I am very happy with the performance we got out of the car so far this week. We are very comfortable with the car. It's been good since Homestead and we just need to continue to do what we have been doing and things will come together for tomorrow. This being my second year with the team it seems things are just more comfortable all around and that's very important when you are fighting for thousandths of a second and with now one year together it can only benefit us."

P.J. JONES -20- Visteon Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 9th - "I think we were a bit afraid to be too aggressive. I feel confident in the car -- it feels real solid. We did have a bit of understeer which hindered us I can race from ninth and I think we have a pretty good shot based on our performance this weekend. It's coming together.

MICHAEL ANDRETTI -6- K Mart/Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 5th - HOW ARE YOU FEELING TODAY AFTER THE YESTERDAYS INCIDENT WITH MONTOYA? "My neck is a little stiff as is my mid back. I feel pretty good in the car, actually (my neck and back) start to loosen up after a while so I should be okay.

ON YESTERDAYS INCIDENT WITH MONTOYA . . . "I was shocked that it actually happened and for it to happen the way it did was totally uncalled for. He apologized yesterday and we will go on. He just has to learn that you can't use your race car for a weapon out there.

HOW IS THE BACKUP CAR WORKING? "We made a lot of progress today. If we would have had the time (we missed in the session yesterday) we would have been further up on the grid."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI -11- Big K Ford-Cosworth - Qualified 7th - "The car is working pretty good for us. I was a little bit disappointed in qualifying because we had a little too much push. I think we made a small mistake and now we just have to get it right for tomorrow.

ON THE IMPROVEMENTS TO THE SWIFT CHASSIS . . . "The car definitely has a little bit more downforce but we will see how they work tomorrow."


Ian Bisco, vice president, Cosworth Racing, explains why the Ford-Cosworth drivers have the advantage on the 1.549 mile Twin Ring Motegi oval. With Ford-Cosworth drivers posting six of the top nine qualifying positions for Saturday's Firestone Firehawk 500 it's evident that there is an advantage to be had.

WHY DOES THE TRACK AT MOTEGI SEEM TO SUIT THE FORD-COSWORTH ENGINE? "I think the work we have done over the winter in improving the mid-range and top-end performance of the engine really benefits us greatly here. At a track like Twin Ring Motegi with a large speed differential with one corner being substantially slower than the other coupled with long straights really suits the Ford-Cosworth engine. An engine with a high RPM and a small powerband is obviously at a deficit and it's evident as many of the other manufacturers drivers are busy changing gears during the lap to keep the engine reving within that narrower power band. The work we have done on our engine has given us a much wider power range and increased the power in the mid-range and the top-end which has actually allowed the drivers, in some cases, to not bother changing gears and utilize the whole spread of power."

THE WORK YOU HAVE DONE ON THE FORD-COSWORTH ENGINE DURING THE OFF SEASON HAS PUT YOU IN A POSITION TO LOWER ENGINE RPMS FOR THIS RACE. WHY WAS THAT DECISION MADE? DON'T YOU WANT TO USE THE MAXIMUM RPM AVAILABLE? "Because this race is 300 miles we decided to go a little on the cautious side. We have taken the RPM down a little bit to what we would normally run on a 200-mile race. The work we have done on improving the mid-range of the engine has been so strong that by reducing the RPM at the top-end it has had absolutely no adverse effect on the speed the car has been able to attain. In other words, once again, the broader range of power through the middle range, or lower RPM has allowed us to bring the whole usable power band down a bit without any ill effects."

WHAT DOES THAT DO TO FUEL ECONOMY? "It actually increases fuel economy. Typically with higher RPM's you use more fuel. That's another benefit to bringing the RPM's down a bit and working more in the mid-range we actually improved mileage. So, we are going to get some pretty incredible fuel mileage figures during the race."

IS THIS A SPECIAL SPEC ENGINE THAT YOU DEVELOPED FOR THIS RACE? "Absolutely not. This is our 1999 specification engine. It has not been manufactured or tailored to this race its the same engine that we ran in Homestead."

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