CHAMPCAR/CART: Gold Coast Sunday Race Report

1999 Fedex Cart Honda Indy 300 Surfers Paradise, Australia 17/10/1999 Clayton Bradford and Jamie Holyoak - Dario FANCHITTI had a perfect weekend, taking maximum points, and the lead in the Fedex CART Championship, in the Round...

1999 Fedex Cart Honda Indy 300 Surfers Paradise, Australia 17/10/1999

Clayton Bradford and Jamie Holyoak -

Dario FANCHITTI had a perfect weekend, taking maximum points, and the lead in the Fedex CART Championship, in the Round 19 in Australia. After a faultless race, FRANCHITTI showed his maturity on street circuits, after Juan MONTOYA ran into a wall on the tight course.

Race day weather looked ominous, with heavy cloud cover and light showers right up to start time, when the sky cleared and the track dried to show a beautiful sunny Gold Coast to the World.

Morning Warm-up saw all the teams out on the track, testing full fuel tank set-ups and last minute changes. There were no major incidents in the session and all were ready for the afternoons racing.

Start time was 2pm local time, after a spectacular show of support racing and entertainment on and off track. The start, on slicks, was relatively incident free, with all cars making it through the first corner without incident. Paul TRACY was later black flagged for passing Bryan HERTA before the start/finish line and was forced to do a pit lane drive-through, losing him 7 places.

Dario FRANCHITTI lead the field through the first corner, with Bryan HERTA falling two places after being passed by TRACY and Scott PRUETT before the first corner. As the field headed into Conrad Jupiters Corner (turn 8), Gil De FERRAN locked his tyres and slid into the wall damaging his car enough to retire from the race.

After the first lap FRANCHITTI opened a lead of just over 1 second to PRUETT, followed by TRACY, HERTA and Michael ANDRETTI.

On lap two, Mauricio GUGELMINs' car showed signs of smoke, while Greg MOORE and Tony KANAAN started to battle. On the next lap KANAAN passed MOORE in Queensland Corner on the back part of the circuit.

GUGELMINs' day ended when the smoke turned out to be a transmission problem, leaving him stranded and out of the race. Another early retirement was Christian FITTIPALDI, stopping in ANA corner (turn 3) with an oil fire at the rear of the vehicle. This was FITTIPALDIs' first DNF for the year.

Lap 5 saw Fernandez overtake Michael ANDRETTI and FRANCHITTI maintain his lead over PRUETT of 1.168 seconds.

Juan MONTOYA, languishing in seventh place, started to close on ANDRETTI, testing him for two laps before finally getting past in a forceful move to take sixth place. Andrea MONTERMINI spun at Bartercard, and was restarted without the need for a safety period.

At the end of lap 12, TRACY came in for his penalty drive through, waving in anger as he passed his crew. TRACYs' teammate, FRANCHITTI steadily increased his lead to over 3 and a half seconds while MONTOYA was keeping pace behind Adrian FERNANDEZ in fifth. TRACY was making his way, closing the gap behind De MATTA after his penalty.

By lap 19, teams were starting to prepare for the first of the pit stops, with KANAAN making the first scheduled stop taking on fuel and tyres, Al UNSER Jnr, Mark BLUNDELL and Jimmy VASSER all pitted on lap 20 without incident. At the end of the back straight Michel JOURDAIN Jnr and Patrick CARPENTIER touched sides together after a braking duel into Jupiters Corner (turn 8). CARPENTIER ended up being the loser of the battle just touching the wall, while JOURDAIN Jnr restarted, CARPENTIER required help from the Safety Officials to get underway.

Lap 21 saw the leaders enter the pits with FRANCHITTI having a reasonable stop of 13 seconds, without problem, re-entering the field. . Richie HEARN, meanwhile, stalled just prior to the entry on pit lane due to a transmission failure, while UNSER Jnr had a throttle problem take him out of the race.

HERTA and MONTOYA pitted. On entering the field into the first chicane and HERTA locked up his brakes, with MONTOYA and PRUETT following. PRUETT tried an inside move into Baretercard corner, only to have the door slammed shut by MONTOYA in a risky move by the Columbian driver.

Shigeaki HATTORI brought out the first safety period after a slide in turn three, stalling his car, on lap 23.

On Lap 25, the running order was FRANCHITTI, MONTOYA, HERTA, FERNANDEZ and PRUETT in fifth.

After two laps under yellow, the race resumed with VASSER and BLUNDELL making contact and stalling in turn three, bringing out another yellow. Both VASSER and BLUNDELL lost a lap in the process of being restarted. MONTERMINI spun again in ANA corner.

On restart FRANCHITTI and MONTOYA made a break over the field with MONTOYA applying pressure to the Scot.

Lap 31 saw KANAAN start a charge overtaking MOORE in a bold move on the outside down the front straight and an identical move to take TRACY to move up to seventh.

On Lap 35 Mark BLUNDELL tried a late braking move on HATTORI at the end of Hill Parade (Northern end) and as HATTORI turned into the corner, BLUNDELL understeered into his rear left tyre spinning both cars. HATTORI restarted, but BLUNDELLs' day had finished.

A full course yellow ensued, with FRANCHITTI and MONTOYA pitting. FRANCHITTIs' stop took just 9.5 seconds, to rejoin in front of MONTOYA with PAPIS in the lead.

At the restart the PAPIS lead to FRANCHITTI, FERNANDEZ, MONTOYA and HERTA.

KANAAN again passed TRACY for eighth place and VASSER pulled off in the first chicane with a heavily smoking car, ending his race. On lap 46 PAPIS pulled into the pits to hand the lead to FRANCHITTI, returning to the field in 13th place.

MOORE suffered electrical problems and retired on lap 47.

On lap 49, MONTOYA showed his inexperience on street circuits and under pressure, understeering into the wall at turn 9, ending his day and handing maximum advantage to FRANCHITTI.

A full course yellow was shown and all except Jan MAGNUSSEN pitted, handing him the lead. On the restart FRANCHITTI passed MAGNUSSEN on the outside again taking the lead. With PAPIS in third and FERNANDEZ in fourth with MAGNUSSEN yet to pit.

FRANCHITTI lapped consistently in the 1 minute 35 second range and opened up a lead of 2 and a half seconds over MAGNUSSEN who was forced to pit with only three laps remaining for a splash and go, handing second to PAPIS.

FRANCHITTI opened a lead of 3 seconds over PAPIS, with FERNANDEZ in third and HERTA following. Michel JOURDAINs' car expired at FOSTERS chicane finishing his day.

PAPIS couldn't close the gap to FRANCHITTI, who took the chequered flag, with twenty points for the win, one for Pole and one for leading the most laps, taking him to 209 points over MONTOYA who made no points for the weekend (200) points with one round to go.

The 500 race in FONTANA will decide the championship on October 31.

Adrian FERNANDEZ - " My car was very strong in warm-up and after a few laps in the race it was great and we were saving fuel..The car was strong all day. We were pushing hard and staying out of trouble. My tyres were good and we kept them after the second pit stop. In the last six laps we lost oil pressure,.. we made it to the end and I had a great day."

Max PAPIS - "We came up very strong.I trust a lot in Bobby (RAHAL). The Ford engine was very strong, we had just the right package. I think it is a very good result for us."

Dario FRANCHITTI - "From the start of the race we got a jump on Bryan (HERTA), fairly comfortable, just holding a consistent gap. The first pit stop took a little longer than I would have liked. After it settled down, there was a yellow a couple of laps after that, which was very lucky, cause if that had happened the lap after we had pitted we would've been in real trouble. When we came out, MONTOYA was behind me, Bryan had been put back, and I thought, everyone if falling by the wayside, and MONTOYA wasn't that quick, but he was getting positions for no other reasons. After that just getting on with it, saving fuel, not making any stupid mistakes. I was being informed of what was going on all the time, Then Kim GREEN came over the radio and said, look there's a local yellow, at whatever turn it was, just take it easy, keep the gaps, MONTOYA's out of the race. I went, OK, this is what were looking for. We're leading the race, looking at 22 points, and MONTOYA is looking at no score. Perfect weekend, can't make any mistakes. After that, the restart, when I was behind JAN (MAGNUSSEN), that was kind of interesting, I've raced against Jan since I was 14, in Karts, and my team mate for 3 years, so I knew I made a move on him, he would see me and give me the appropriate room so that was fine. Perfect day really."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Christian F