CHAMPCAR/CART: Gold Coast Mercedes-Benz Final Qualifying Report

FedEx Championship Series Report Race: Indy 300, Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia Date/Session: Saturday, Oct. 16, 1999 Final Qualifying Gugelmin Leads Mercedes at Indy 300 Final Qualifying Dario Franchitti took his...

FedEx Championship Series Report

Race:   Indy 300, Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia        
Date/Session:   Saturday, Oct. 16, 1999 Final Qualifying

Gugelmin Leads Mercedes at Indy 300 Final Qualifying

Dario Franchitti took his second consecutive Indy 300 pole position during final qualifying today, and moved within 12 points of PPG Cup leader Juan Montoya with two races remaining in the 1999 CART FedEx Championship Series season. Franchitti's qualifying time of 91.703 seconds (109.724 mph) over the 2.795-mile temporary street circuit bested his own 1998 record by 0.585 seconds.

Mercedes driver Mauricio Gugelmin claimed ninth place on the grid with his PacWest Hollywood entry with a quick lap of 93.271 seconds (107.879 mph). "Big Mo" owns three top-six finishes in five career starts at Surfers Paradise, including fourth-place performances in 1995 and '96.

Player's/Forsythe pilot Greg Moore improved from 22nd position on Friday's provisional grid to12th place Saturday with a quick lap of 93.553 seconds (107.554 mph). Moore missed most of provisional qualifying on Friday with mechanical problems, but recovered to top the time sheets at the midpoint of today's morning practice session. Teammate Patrick Carpentier, who placed ninth in provisional qualifying, will start on the eighth row after lapping the circuit in 93.781 seconds (107.293 mph).

Helio Castro-Neves and the Hogan Racing team struggled to perfect the balance on the Brazilian's Mercedes Lola race car. Castro-Neves posted a qualifying lap of 93.869 seconds (107.192 mph) and will start alongside Carpentier in the eighth row. PacWest Motorola Mercedes driver Mark Blundell was fifth quickest overall in the morning practice but couldn't find a clean lap in the afternoon and will start 23rd (94.847 seconds/106.087 mph).

Al Unser Jr. and Marlboro Team Penske encountered electrical problems with their primary car and switched to the back-up car for final qualifying. Unser Jr. turned a best lap in 97.066 seconds (103.661 mph) and will start 26th. Epson Bettenhausen Motorsports pilot Gualter Salles qualified 27th (97.677 seconds/103.013 mph) before throttle-cable problems sidelined the Brazilian early in the session.

Mercedes Quotes

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, PacWest Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (Ninth/93.271 seconds) "With the damp weather this morning, we had to wait for the circuit to dry and we lost some valuable time. We went on to make some changes to the rear that helped the grip, but the balance was a bit off. "Before qualifying, we made some changes to the front of the car that improved the balance. The car is handling extremely well, and it should behave the same way on full tanks. It's been a great weekend so far, and I'm very happy. I always have a good race here in Australia, and I'm confident that we'll have another good one tomorrow."

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (12th/93.553 seconds) "It was a better run than yesterday, but missing most of qualifying yesterday hurt us because we couldn't really try anything new in our set up today. But we have learned a few things that we can put into the car for the race. We'll just have to see where we end up, and figure out our race strategy from there."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (15th/93.781 seconds) "I'm quite disappointed. Yesterday we ran pretty decent but today we didn't get the chassis right. I've also been having problems with the brakes in the last couple of races. After a few laps, the front brakes lock, then the rear locks, and that kills the right-side tires. When that happened today on my second set of tires, that was it. There was nothing more we could do. It was a shame."

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 9, Hogan Racing Mercedes/Firestone (16th/93.869 seconds) "We did the best that we could today. I got caught in a little bit of traffic on my best run. We made a lot of suspension changes since this morning, but I still have understeer and wheel spin at the same time. It's a tough race, so tomorrow we will have to be careful."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, PacWest Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (23rd/94.847 seconds) "It was a difficult session. We didn't run too many laps, and we got caught with a red flag on our quick lap. The car's picked up a bit of oversteer this afternoon, and we could use some more grip out there."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2, Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes/Goodyear (26th/97.066 seconds) "The Marlboro Mercedes Penske was loose so we were working on the balance and trying to put a solid time on the board since we lost yesterday's time by going to the back-up car. We had only gotten two timed laps in when we had a mechanical problem that ended our qualifying session early. It's going to be tough starting from the back tomorrow so we'll have to keep our nose clean and see how everything plays out during the race."

Final Qualifying, Indy 300 Surfers Paradise, Queensland, Australia Oct. 16, 1999

Pos.    Driver                  Engine          Time    Speed   
1       Dario Franchitti        Honda           91.703  109.724 
2       Bryan Herta             Ford Cosworth   92.595  108.667 
3       Scott Pruett            Toyota          92.616  108.642 
4       Paul Tracy              Honda           92.700  108.544 
5       Michael Andretti        Ford Cosworth   92.899  108.311 
6       Juan Montoya            Honda           93.018  108.173 
7       Adrian Fernandez        Ford Cosworth   93.072  108.110 
8       Tony Kanaan             Honda           93.233  107.923 
9       Mauricio Gugelmin       Mercedes-Benz   93.271  107.879 
10      Cristiano da Matta      Toyota          93.399  107.731 
12      Greg Moore              Mercedes-Benz   93.553  107.554 
15      Patrick Carpentier      Mercedes-Benz   93.781  107.293 
16      Helio Castro-Neves      Mercedes-Benz   93.869  107.192 
23      Mark Blundell           Mercedes-Benz   94.847  106.087 
26      Al Unser Jr.            Mercedes-Benz   97.066  103.661 
27      Gualter Salles          Mercedes-Benz   97.677  103.013 

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gualter Salles , Al Unser Jr. , Michael Andretti , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Bryan Herta , Scott Pruett , Mark Blundell , Greg Moore , Cristiano da Matta
Teams Team Penske