MARK BLUNDELL ...
MARK BLUNDELL #18 MOTOROLA PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ
Morning practice session: 16th - 26.539 seconds Afternoon qualifying session: 16th - 26.616 seconds
Mark Blundell was involved in the most dramatic event of qualifying when he hit the wall at turn four at almost 200mph. Blundell escaped with some minor bruising to his right hip and the Motorola team went into overdrive to get the team's back-up car prepared for a last-minute dash at the end of the session. Blundell had the accident on his first flying lap and had not recorded a qualifying time before stepping into his back-up machine. He managed to put the drama behind him to record a lap of 26.616 seconds which was good enough for 16th place on tomorrow's grid for the Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami presented by Toyota.
"We went for it, but the car was too loose and we hit the wall," said Blundell. "It was extremely disappointing because the lap was going to be very, very good. "The boys did a great job to get the back-up car ready and I think we probably did the best we could do. We had to go back out on old tires because all our sets had been scrubbed for the race. I guess you could say it was a 'sensible' lap. "It is a little difficult to get straight into a back-up car after such a hit because you always have bumps and aches and the accident is still in your head. "You just have to do the job, that's what we are here for and I guess it is like a child falling off a new bike, you just have to get back on and start riding again straight away. "While I would have liked to have been starting a little further towards the front, I think we will have a strong package for the race."
MAURICIO GUGELMIN #17 NEXTEL PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ
Morning practice session: 18th - 26.698 seconds Afternoon practice session: 18th - 26.744 seconds -
Mauricio Gugelmin will start 18th in tomorrow's race after battling a loose car on his qualifying flyers today. The talented Brazilian was forced to "catch" his #17 Nextel PacWest Mercedes-Benz a couple of times on his quickest qualifier after over compensating for "push" from the morning practice session.
"We were really loose coming out of (turn) four and we had some push this morning, so I think we over compensated," said Gugelmin. "A couple of times I really had to catch the car and it would seem that Mark (Blundell) had a similar problem. "When the heat rises, sometimes the track will loose some grip so it is difficult to gauge which way to go. "With this new wing configuration it is very difficult to get push out of the cars, so to get a fine balance is hard."
<pre> QUALIFYING TIMES: Gil de Ferran (25.942s) 1; Juan Montoya (25.948s) 2; Adrian Fernandez (26.042s) 3; Alexandre Tagliani (26.114s) 4; Kenny Brack (26.146s) 5; Michael Andretti (26.175s) 6; Roberto Moreno (26.236s) 7; Helio Castro-Neves (26.268s) 8; Christian Fittipaldi (26.275s) 9; Jimmy Vasser (26.283s) 10; Mark Blundell #18 Motorola PacWest Mercedes-Benz (26.616s) 14th; Mauricio Gugelmin #17 Nextel PacWest Mercedes-Benz (26.744s) 18th.