CHAMPCAR/CART: Mercedes-Benz Rio Qualifying

Saturday, May 9, 1998 Qualifying Report Moore Survives Rio's Treacherous Turn Four Player's/Forsythe Driver Qualifies Seventh Greg Moore turned a quick lap of 39.293 seconds (170.779 mph) in his Player's/Forsythe ...

Saturday, May 9, 1998 Qualifying Report

Moore Survives Rio's Treacherous Turn Four Player's/Forsythe Driver Qualifies Seventh

Greg Moore turned a quick lap of 39.293 seconds (170.779 mph) in his Player's/Forsythe Reynard/Mercedes-Benz during qualifying for tomorrow's Rio 400, but the Canadian star took a wild ride along the way. He was one of six drivers, including fellow Mercedes runner Al Unser Jr., to spin in the tight and treacherous fourth corner of the 1.864-mile Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway. Moore, who finished second here last year, was .288 seconds off the pace of pole winner Dario Franchitti and will start the race seventh.

Many other drivers experienced dramatic oversteer in turn four, some faring better than Moore, who managed to avoid hitting the wall, and some faring worse. Champ Car rookie Helio Castro-Neves also got very loose in turn four, but the young Brazilian hung on to earn the best qualifying position of his CART career. He'll start 11th.

Unser, meanwhile, was one of three drivers to make contact with the turn-four wall. Fighting understeer, the two-time PPG Cup Champion crashed before taking the green flag for his two qualifying laps. The Marlboro Team Penske crew readied his backup car and returned him to the line of drivers waiting to qualify, but time ran out before he could make his run. Although he did not post a qualifying time, Unser will take a provisional and start 27th.

Andre Ribeiro, operating with limited track time after a crash yesterday and mechanical woes earlier today, qualified the second Marlboro Penske/Mercedes 16th. Ribeiro won the inaugural race here in 1996.

Moore's teammate Patrick Carpentier qualified the second Player's/Forsythe Reynard/Mercedes-Benz 17th, just ahead of PacWest's Mark Blundell, who will start the Motorola-sponsored machine 18th. Mauricio Gugelmin will start the Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes 21st, and Hogan Racing rookie JJ Lehto will start 22nd.

Mercedes Quotes

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone - Seventh - 39.293 sec. "We made a couple of changes for qualifying. We almost made it work. We went a little too far. It's a real long race, so we'll just have to stay out of trouble. We always have a good setup here. We still do. It just didn't look like it in qualifying. The hotter the track gets, the slicker it gets. We've seen slippery tracks before, so we can adapt. The dust on the track is getting better. My car just drifted around. If I had locked up the wheels I would have hit the wall. I kept my foot in (the throttle), and it just drifted around."

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 16, Team Alumax Reynard/Mercedes/Goodyear - 11th - 39.594 sec. "My last lap was looking very fast. Unfortunately I had a big bobble in turn four. I moved the rear (anti- roll) bar to stiff, but I wasn't expecting a problem in turn four. I was expecting a problem in turn one. I went into turn one, and there were no problems. So, I went for it.

Then I had oversteer in turn four. In qualifying I was trying very hard. If not for the bobble in turn four, I think we would have been very fast. I think a conservative approach in the race will pay tomorrow."

Andre Ribeiro, No 3, Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear - 16th - 40.058 sec. "The track changed since practice. It changed completely the way it feels. I pushed as hard as I could to find the limits of the car. With this track there are two ways you can approach it, aggressive or conservative. I was aggressive yesterday and hit the wall. So, to come out today and run a 40 (second-lap) after only getting 20 laps this morning is not too bad. We have a lot of rear wing, so we're carrying a lot of drag. You only remove the wing when you have the confidence."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone - 17th - 40.176 sec. "We've been chasing it all weekend. The rear has been loose on the car. I wanted a better time, but I didn't know if I was going to lose it or not. For tomorrow we'll probably go closer to Greg's setup. Our problem has nothing to do with the aerodynamics of the car. We're chasing the setup. Greg and I like our setup a little different. I can adapt to his setup though. There should not be as much spinning tomorrow because there should be more rubber on the track as the race goes on. Plus there will be more heat in the tires. That will help us corner better."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, Motorola Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone - 18th - 40.195 sec. "We're struggling to get stable tire pressures. Ideally we need four warm-up laps here, not three like we have this year. We don't have proper tire pressure or tire temperatures, so we have no grip in general. I started 20th here last year and worked my way up to eighth, so there is some work we can do in the race tomorrow. If you go even a little off line here, you could be completely out of it and into the wall."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone - 21st - 40.395 sec. "We never had the right tire pressures. The tires never got up to the right temperature. I go in the corners loose, and I come out with the tail ahead of me. My confidence is not very high right now."

JJ Lehto, No. 9, Hogan Racing Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone - 22nd - 40.433 sec. "We have no balance in the car. We made some changes, and it was worse than in practice. The heat is making the track more slippery. We adjusted for the heat, but we probably adjusted too much. I will mainly just try to finish the race tomorrow."

Al Unser Jr., No 2, Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear - 27th - No Time "The car was running well. I got too aggressive in the corner and lost the back end. It's too bad because the guys did a super job getting ready for today."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Emerson Fittipaldi , Andre Ribeiro , Greg Moore , JJ Lehto
Teams Team Penske