CHAMPCAR/CART: Mercedes Cleveland Race Report

Carpentier and Blundell Only Mercedes in Cleveland'’s Top 10 Disappointing Race Features Crashes and Mechanical Woes The only Mercedes-Benz drivers to finish the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland placed ninth and 10th, while Alex ...

Carpentier and Blundell Only Mercedes in Cleveland'’s Top 10 Disappointing Race Features Crashes and Mechanical Woes

The only Mercedes-Benz drivers to finish the Medic Drug Grand Prix of Cleveland placed ninth and 10th, while Alex Zanardi claimed his fifth victory of the season. An early race crash eliminated Mercedes drivers Greg Moore, JJ Lehto and Helio Castro-Neves, both Marlboro Team Penske drivers retired with gearbox trouble, and a stone through the radiator finished Mauricio Gugelmin’s day.

Patrick Carpentier, who qualified the Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes 15th, fell back to 19th when he spun trying to avoid an incident during the first third of the race. But the young Canadian moved back through the field with a solid drive and good pit stops to finish ninth, complimenting the Mercedes-Benz IC108E engine’s ability to run on a lean fuel mixture without a noticeable loss in power.

PacWest Racing’s Mark Blundell suffered with fuel pickup problems throughout the race, ultimately losing two positions on the final lap of the event to finish 10th.

Marlboro Team Penske’s Al Unser Jr. looked likely to follow up his fifth place finish at the last race in Portland, Ore., with another strong showing. He qualified ninth and ran in the top five, but a pit lane incident with former teammate Paul Tracy dropped him well back in the field. Unser climbed back to fifth only to have his gearbox fail with four laps left to run.

Unser’s teammate Andre Ribeiro also raced with the leaders, but after running as high as second, he, too, suffered gearbox failure.

Gugelmin also had a wild day, going off course to avoid an incident during the first quarter of the race, then having to make an extra pit stop when his left front tire was punctured by debris mid-race. He finally retired on lap 85 when a stone punctured the radiator of his Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes.

Greg Moore, who spent the weekend fighting illness, spun on lap four, collecting rookie Mercedes drivers JJ Lehto and Helio Castro-Neves. Moore retains second in the Driver’s Championship points standings.

Mercedes Quotes

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Ninth "This race was very, very hard physically. The engine was excellent. On the lean calibration, we did some of our fastest laps today. Mercedes has been working on that, and it really made a difference. I couldn’t tell the difference between the way the car ran on the lean setting and on the full-fuel setting. We started 15th and improved to ninth, so for that I’m happy. I stalled the car in the pits one time and had one spin, but other than that the day was okay."

Mark Blundell, No. 18 Motorola Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 10th "It was a very, very frustrating day for us. We had a very good car, good chassis balance and good power. But we had a fuel pickup problem all day. It wouldn’t take the last three gallons in the tank. We dropped two positions on the very last lap. It’s really a shame. We drove hard all day, but we didn’t have any luck running with us."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2 Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear: 17th "The whole team did a really great job all weekend, and it was paying off for us there for a while. The guys got me out (of the pits) really quick, but we got down to the end (of the pit lane) there, and I guess it was (Paul) Tracy who pulled out into me. I guess he must not have seen me or something, because he drove right into me and turned me around. But I’m really proud of the team and Mercedes, they gave me great power today, and Goodyear--their tires were fantastic. We’re closing the gap. This is a beautiful race car, and we got to show a little bit of that today."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17 Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 20th "We had a loose car most of the day. We expect it was because of a ride-height problem. Then at the end the telemetry told us we had a hole in the radiator, so we had to park it early."

Andre Ribeiro, No. 3 Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear: 22nd "It’s very tough to end it this way, very disappointing. Finally, we had a problem with the gearbox; it locked in third gear. The guys have been working flat out to address this problem."

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 25th "That was a close one. Three guys ran into me. Obviously I’m disappointed. We were quickest this morning in warmup, but I had a really bad start. I guess I was being a bit too timid. But then it was just a question of making good passes and moving up through the field. But the car bottomed and lost grip, and I got off on the grass. We got back on, but then everybody came through. That was it."

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 16, Alumax Reynard/Mercedes/Goodyear: 27th "I saw Greg (Moore) get into the grass and then spin across as he got into the corner. I was trying to guess which way he would end up, then Michael Jourdain hit Greg, and I had nowhere to go."

JJ Lehto, No. 9, Hogan Racing Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 28th "When Greg (Moore) spun in front of me, I was going to go inside. I was in fourth gear and going very fast. Somebody got into Greg and hit him into my path. There was no where I could go. It was a pretty bad hit. The whole car is done."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Alex Zanardi , Mauricio Gugelmin , Michael Jourdain , Mark Blundell , Andre Ribeiro , Greg Moore , JJ Lehto
Teams Team Penske