CHAMPCAR/CART: Long Beach Mercedes Friday Notes

Race: Grand Prix of Long Beach, Long Beach, CA Date/Session: Friday, April 16, 1999 Provisional Qualifying Drivers Tested By New Long Beach Circuit Mercedes-Benz-powered Champ Car teams were challenged today by the re- ...

Race:           Grand Prix of Long Beach, Long Beach, CA
Date/Session:   Friday, April 16, 1999  Provisional Qualifying

Drivers Tested By New Long Beach Circuit

Mercedes-Benz-powered Champ Car teams were challenged today by the re- designed 1.824-mile temporary street course at the 25th Annual Grand Prix of Long Beach, the third round of the CART FedEx Championship Series. In this morning's practice, Mercedes pilots finished sixth and eighth but dropped out of the top 10 in the afternoon's provisional qualifying session.

Track conditions along the new circuit configuration, which includes four new turns and a longer front straight, were reported to be rough, making car set up difficult. Player's/Forsythe drivers Patrick Carpentier and PPG Cup points leader Greg Moore finished 11th and 12th, with lap times of 62.759 seconds (104.629 mph) and 62.808 seconds (104.547 mph), respectively. PacWest Motorola pilot Mark Blundell, eighth in the morning session, posted a provisional qualifying lap time of 62.840 seconds (104.494 mph) for 13th place.

Rookie Tarso Marques, driving the Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes Champ Car in his first street course event, finished 19th with a lap of 63.185 seconds (103.923 mph). Mauricio Gugelmin, who started from the front row a week ago at Twin Ring Motegi, clipped the wall and spun his PacWest Hollywood Mercedes late in the qualifying period, finishing 20th with a time of 63.391 seconds (103.586 mph).

Helio Castro-Neves, coming off inspired performances in the first two oval events of the season, suffered set up problems with his Hogan Racing Champ Car and finished 23rd with a lap time of 63.959 seconds (102.666 mph). Rookie Shigeaki Hattori dropped out of qualifying with mechanical problems and finished 27th with a lap time of 72.144 seconds (91.018 mph).

Mercedes-Benz holds second place in the PPG Cup Manufacturer's Championship contest. Provisional qualifying continues Saturday while the green flag for the Grand Prix of Long Beach will wave Sunday, April 18, at 1:00 p.m. PT. The race will be televised live on ABC at 4:00 p.m. ET.

Mercedes Quotes

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (11th place/62.759 seconds) "You can't test on a street course, so this place is different from any place we've tested so far this year. It is very slippery out there. It was good this morning. We made some improvement this afternoon, but so did the rest of the field. The car was pushing towards the exit of the corners, and we tried to improve on that but we didn't improve enough. We'll try to make it better for tomorrow. Here you never know what is going to happen."

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (12th place/62.759 seconds) "We improved a lot from the morning to the afternoon. We thought we had a good set up, but it was the wrong direction. Now we know which direction to go. We have a lot of work to do to be faster tomorrow. Hopefully, the track conditions will come around."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (13th place/62.840 seconds) "We're okay, just a little frustrated. There was more potential in the car, but we didn't get it out of it this session. If we can move up to the top eight or so, then I'll be happy. I think we have a reasonable race car under us."

Tarso Marques, No. 2, Marlboro Team Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear (19th place/63.185 seconds) "For my first day in a Champ Car on a street course today was okay. We were able to pick up some speed in each session, and I'm getting a better feel for the Marlboro Mercedes Penske and the Long Beach circuit. We still need a lot of work to improve the car - there's quite a bit of understeer which is taking away our grip. We need to get the car balanced better so we can go faster tomorrow."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (20th place/63.391 seconds) "I was just trying to do too much too soon. I clipped the wall in turn three, and it sent me into the tires across the track. We had a gearbox problem on our other car this morning, which meant I didn't have a back-up car to use in qualifying this afternoon -- so that was my session."

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 9, Hogan Racing Mercedes/Firestone (23rd place/63.959 seconds) "We just didn't have the set up today. After the early laps, I thought things would get better once we put on new tires, but it just didn't happen. The car has some understeer, and I have to work more with this chassis than I think the others do. The good thing is that we have a second day to qualify."

Shigeaki Hattori, No. 16, Bettenhausen Motorsports/Mercedes/Firestone (27th place/72.144 seconds) "It is tough for me because we lost so much track time, but I could feel already that the car was much better than this morning. I feel confident that we'll be able to post better times tomorrow."

Provisional Qualifying, Grand Prix of Long Beach Long Beach, California April 16, 1999

Pos.    Driver                  Engine          Time    Speed
1       Dario Franchitti        Honda           61.805  106.244
2       Juan Montoya            Honda           61.956  105.985
3       Bryan Herta             Ford Cosworth   62.189  105.588
4       Tony Kanaan             Honda           62.332  105.346
5       Max Papis               Ford Cosworth   62.363  105.293
6       Adrian Fernandez        Ford Cosworth   62.434  105.173
7       Jimmy Vasser            Honda           62.514  105.039
8       Christian Fittipaldi    Ford Cosworth   62.654  104.804
9       Michael Andretti        Ford Cosworth   62.694  104.737
10      Paul Tracy              Honda           62.731  104.676
11      Patrick Carpentier      Mercedes-Benz   62.759  104.629
12      Greg Moore              Mercedes-Benz   62.808  104.547
13      Mark Blundell           Mercedes-Benz   62.840  104.494
19      Tarso Marques           Mercedes-Benz   63.185  103.923
20      Mauricio Gugelmin       Mercedes-Benz   63.391  103.586
23      Helio Castro-Neves      Mercedes-Benz   63.959  102.666
27      Shigeaki Hattori        Mercedes-Benz   72.144  91.018

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Shigeaki Hattori , Michael Andretti , Jimmy Vasser , Max Papis , Adrian Fernandez , Tarso Marques , Patrick Carpentier , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Bryan Herta , Mark Blundell , Greg Moore
Teams Team Penske