CHAMPCAR/CART: Mercedes Detroit Qualifying Report 98-06-05

Race: Detroit Grand Prix, The Raceway at Belle Isle, Detroit Date/Session: June 5, 1998 Friday Qualifying Player’s/Forsythe’s Patrick Carpentier Leads Mercedes Contingent After First-Round...

Race: Detroit Grand Prix, The Raceway at Belle Isle, Detroit Date/Session: June 5, 1998 Friday Qualifying

Player’s/Forsythe’s Patrick Carpentier Leads Mercedes Contingent After First-Round Qualifying Rain a Factor on Day One at Detroit Grand Prix

Some drivers were hampered by rain while others enjoyed a dry race track on the first day of qualifying for the ITT Automotive Detroit Grand Prix. With a dry race track, Player’s/Forsythe Racing driver Patrick Carpentier was fifth overall with a lap of 78.849 seconds (107.111 mph). Max Papis, driving the MCI-sponsored Reynard/Toyota, claimed quick time overall with a lap of 77.990 seconds (108.291 mph).

PacWest Racing drivers Mauricio Gugelmin and Mark Blundell improved their positions on the drying track surface as well. Gugelmin trailed Carpentier by less than a tenth of a mile per hour to put his car into the sixth-fastest spot. Gugelmin’s Hollywood/Reynard/Mercedes champ car covered the 2.361-mile street course in 78.922 seconds (107.012 mph). Blundell’s Motorola/Reynard/Mercedes recorded a best lap of 81.285 seconds (103.901 mph) to claim the eighth spot.

Carpentier’s teammate Greg Moore, along with Team Alumax’s Helio Castro-Neves and Marlboro Team Penske’s Al Unser Jr. all qualified under wet track conditions.

Practice will resume tomorrow morning beginning at 9 a.m., while final qualifying begins at 12:45 p.m.

Mercedes-Benz Driver Quotes:

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player’s Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone - 5th - 78.849 "We’re struggling a little bit. We had a problem today I’ve never experienced since I’ve been with Player’s/Forsythe Racing. The car turns too quickly, and the rear end gets really unstable. We were lucky today on the weather. The weather played for us a little bit. We need to make some changes for tomorrow. We have so much grip, the car is just unpredictable. We think it is a shock or a spring. There is a failed part somewhere. We will find it and get back on track tomorrow "

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone - 6th - 78.922 "Actually, it’s been a relatively trouble-free day. We’re starting to balance the car. Braking was a bit of a problem this morning, but we’re finding our direction and I see light at the end of the tunnel."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, Motorola Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone - 8th - 81.285 "We’re still trying to find a balance. It would be great to have one nice, clear day from morning to afternoon with a nice dry track. We had only three timed laps in this morning’s session. The car was weak under braking and that’s a problem here. The new track is good for all the drivers, it opens up opportunities and more room for overtaking."

Andre Ribeiro, No. 3, Marlboro Team Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear - 16th - 90.298 "With seven minutes remaining in the qualifying session I went out on slick tires for the first time. The tires were not up to temperature or pressure, and the car got away from me. The good news is my Marlboro Penske crew will be able to repair the car so we can run tomorrow under better conditions."

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 16, Team Alumax Reynard/Mercedes/Goodyear - 23rd - 92.548 "That session was not completely dry, not completely wet. You have to be careful not to make a mistake or you could be in big trouble. Tomorrow we will improve times in the dry. Today all we could do is try to setup the car for the wet. You don’t know what is going to happen Saturday or Sunday, so you just try to get a baseline in case you have to race in those conditions. As the track dried you could go quicker, but the drier it got the more you would start to overheat the rain tires. Either way it was bad."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2, Marlboro Team Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear - 24th - 92.917 "I like the new section of the track – it has created a passing area and is a definite improvement. It’s just a shame that today the conditions went from dry to wet. Hopefully the weather will hold for the rest of the weekend and we can put on a good show for the fans."

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player’s Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone - 26th - 93.839 "Our motor was good and this is the first event for me running the Magneti Marelli system. It all worked very well this morning. Getting a clear lap here is the real key. Our direction is good. We worked on the balance and we moved nicely in the right direction. The wet track slowed everyone down. We’ll be okay tomorrow. We were quick this morning in the dry. This track now has more passing zones. The drivers are all really pleased."

1998 ITT Automotive Detroit Grand Prix The Raceway on Belle Isle Friday Qualifying

Pos     Driver            Chassis/Engine/Tires        Time    Speed
 1  Max Papis            Reynard/Honda/Firestone     77.990  108.291
 2  Jimmy Vassar         Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone  78.426  107.689
 3  Richie Hearn         Reynard/Honda/Firestone     78.510  107.574
 4  Robby Gordon         Reynard/Honda/Firestone     78.551  107.517
 5  Patrick Carpentier   Swift/Ford/Firestone        78.849  107.111
 6  Mauricio Gugelmin    Reynard/Honda/Firestone     78.922  107.012
 7  Michel Jourdain, Jr. Reynard/Ford/Firestone      80.721  104.627
 8  Mark Blundell        Reynard/Mercedes/Goodyear   81.285  103.901
 9  PJ Jones             Reynard/Ford/Cosworth       82.009  102.984
10  Alex Barron          Reynard/Toyota/Goodyear     83.957  100.594
16  Andre Ribeiro        Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear    90.298   93.530
23  Helio Castro-Neves   Reynard/Mercedes/Goodyear   92.548   91.256
24  Al Unser, Jr         Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear    92.917   90.894
26  Greg Moore           Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone  93.839   90.001

Source: Mercedes-Benz

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Al Unser Jr. , Max Papis , Patrick Carpentier , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Richie Hearn , Alex Barron , Al Unser Sr. , Andre Ribeiro , Greg Moore , Michel Jourdain
Teams Team Penske