Hard Day Down Under For Castro-Neves Surfers Paradise (October 18, 1998) - Helio Castro-Neves may have enjoyed the beaches, spectacular scenery and hospitality of the Australian continent this past weekend, but he found the concrete downright...
Hard Day Down Under For Castro-Neves
Surfers Paradise (October 18, 1998) - Helio Castro-Neves may have enjoyed the beaches, spectacular scenery and hospitality of the Australian continent this past weekend, but he found the concrete downright inhospitable in Sunday's Honda Grand Prix.
The 23-year-old driver of the Team Alumax Reynard/Mercedes-Benz entered by Bettenhausen Motorsports brushed the barriers late in the race and finished 21st overall. Alex Zanardi, who earlier clinched the 1998 PPG Cup, scored his seventh win of the season in winning Sunday's CART FedEx Championship Series race. Dario Franchitti was second and Christian Fittipaldi third.
Although he started 18th, pit-stop strategy boosted Castro-Neves as high as ninth before the accident sidelined him on Lap 54. Several laps earlier, he had survived contact with Jimmy Vasser when Vasser attempted to pass at the entrance to one of the temporary circuit's many chicanes.
"All I was trying to do was finish the race and score some points," Castro-Neves said. "Unfortunately, I clipped the wall and that broke the left wishbone. When I went to brake for the next corner, the car pulled to the right and went into the wall."
Retirement from the race put a premature end to a very difficult week. After setting 21st fastest time in the opening practice session, Castro-Neves moved up to 16th in Friday's provisional qualifying session. The time was impressive in that mechanical problems and numerous red flags in both sessions limited him to a total of 10 laps for the day.
"We were going pretty good in the beginning, but we didn't have any chance to use our second set of tires because the accident involving Al Unser Jr. shortened the session," Castro-Neves said. "We had a throttle problem and lost a lot of time in the pits so all we could do was scuff in our second set of tires before the session ended."
Saturday proved more difficult, however, as Castro-Neves had a major crash in the primary car during morning practice and then ended the session by crashing the back-up car. Fortunately, Castro-Neves was not hurt in either crash. Because he had already qualified the primary car on Friday, the rules allowed him to keep that time and substitute the repaired back-up car after it was determined the primary car could not be repaired in time.
OF NOTE: Despite the frustrating weekend at Surfers Paradise, Helio Castro-Neves did establish a new team record simply by starting in Sunday's race. That start, his 18th for 1998, is the most ever in one season by a Bettenhausen Motorsports driver. The previous mark of 17 starts in a season was shared by team owner Tony Bettenhausen in 1991 and Stefan Johansson in 1995.
Source: CART Online
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