CHAMPCAR/CART: Mercedes Fires Fastballs At Spring Training

Player's/Forsthye Teammates Carpentier and Moore Quickest Overall Mercedes-Benz proved the performance of its IC108E engine by powering Player's/Forsythe teammates Patrick Carpentier and Greg Moore to a one-two finish at Spring Training...

Player's/Forsthye Teammates Carpentier and Moore Quickest Overall

Mercedes-Benz proved the performance of its IC108E engine by powering Player's/Forsythe teammates Patrick Carpentier and Greg Moore to a one-two finish at Spring Training for the 1999 CART FedEx Championship Series. While no points are awarded, Spring Training is the first and only time during the pre-season that all teams test over the same track at the same time. The leaders earn bragging rights heading into the 1999 Champ car season. Carpentier was the quickest driver over the two days, breaking the 25-second barrier today with a lap of 24.962 seconds (216.617 mph). The Player's/Forsythe team set the benchmark for next month's season-opening race here at Homestead Motorsports Complex. Greg Moore, who took the pole here last year at the Miami Grand Prix, was second quickest with a time of 25.055 seconds (215.813 mph) over the 1.502-mile oval. The Forsythe teams' results were even more remarkable considering that they had only done road-course testing until this point. "To come here and take the top two spots in the first real major test against all the other teams and manufacturers is an excellent showing," said Paul Ray, vice president of Ilmor Engineering. "This result is significant because the engines that went fast over the last two days were some of the first engines built in our new Ilmor Technology Center in Plymouth (Mich.). This clearly demonstrates the level of quality our staff is capable of producing." Al Unser Jr., driver of the Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes, overcame yesterday's frustrations with understeer to place ninth overall with a lap time of 25.454 seconds (212.430 mph). Despite suffering from the flu, Mark Blundell piloted PacWest's Motorola Mercedes to12th place with a lap time of 25.544 seconds (211.682 mph). Mauricio Gugelmin's Hollywood team worked diligently throughout the sessions to post a lap time of 25.617 seconds (211.079 mph), improving to 14th overall. Helio Castro-Neves, in Hogan Racing's Mercedes, continued to experiment with his set-ups, placing 18th with a lap time of 25.784 seconds (209.711 mph). Bettenhausen Motorsports Mercedes Rookie Shigeaki Hattori did not practice today after damaging his team's car in a crash yesterday. The first race of the CART Fed Ex Championship Series will be the Marlboro Grand Prix at Homestead, Sunday, March 21.

Mercedes Quotes

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone "I'm very happy. We had a good day. The engine is very fast and more reliable than ever before. Greg and a few guys will give me some trouble in March, but we are ready."

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone "This is a great result for the team. They make our job as drivers very easy. We never tested on an oval this year until now. I think a lot of people thought we wouldn't be as quick as we have been over the last couple of days. To me it is important to be quick over long runs, and we know we're there. I think this track owes me one, so I'm looking forward to coming back here in March."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2, Marlboro Team Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear "While we learned a lot about the 1999 Marlboro Mercedes Penske and made progress over the past couple of days, we are definitely not happy ending the test in ninth place. We tested here in colder conditions and came back in the heat and could not match our best time of 25.1 seconds. Now we need to get back to work and increase our speed. As far as the new car goes, I'm happy with it. We've done quite a bit of development in the wind tunnel and downforce is better. Reliability was an issue last year and so far it's not a problem."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, Motorola Mercedes/Firestone "We ran a few different things this morning, then put in a package we know is quick. We still have more to find, but we have a clear understanding of where we need to go. I've got the flu which is why we quit a bit early today."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone "We lost some time again this morning with clutch problems. But in the afternoon the balance was much better. We were fighting some push in mid-corner on both ends. We are going to come back and work here before the race. I am a lot happier today than I was yesterday. We are going in the right direction."

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 9, Hogan Racing Mercedes/Firestone "This morning was very good. Unfortunately, a broken sixth gear cost us a lot of time in the afternoon. We'll be back testing a lot before the March race here. I really like the way the Lola chassis works. We worked on mechanical setup over the last couple of days, so when we come back we need to work on our aerodynamic setup. We didn't adjust the wings the whole time we were here. That is what we'll test next. I'm very optimistic right now."

Day Two, Spring Training 1999 Homestead, Florida February 4, 1999

Pos.    Driver          Engine          Time    Speed
1       Patrick Carpentier      Mercedes-Benz   24.962  216.617
2       Greg Moore      Mercedes-Benz   25.055  215.813
3       Jimmy Vasser    Honda           25.106  215.375
4       Gil de Ferran   Honda           25.126  215.203
5       Max Papis       Ford Cosworth           25.202  214.554
6       Bryan Herta     Ford Cosworth   25.313  213.614
7       Juan Montoya    Honda           25.423  212.689
8       Raul Boesel     Honda           25.439  212.556
9       Al Unser, Jr.   Mercedes-Benz   25.454  212.430
10      Tony Kanaan     Honda           25.462  212.364
12      Mark Blundell   Mercedes-Benz   25.544  211.682
14      Mauricio Gugelmin       Mercedes-Benz   25.617  211.079
18      Helio Castro-Neves.     Mercedes-Benz   25.784  209.711
28      Shigeaki Hattori        Mercedes-Benz   27.460  196.912

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Day Two, Spring Training 1999 Homestead, Florida February 4, 1999 Pos. Driver Engine Time Speed 1 Patrick Carpentier Mercedes-Benz 24.962 216.617 2 Greg Moore Mercedes-Benz 25.055 215.813 3 Jimmy Vasser Honda 25.106 215.375 4 Gil de Ferran Honda 25.126 215.203 5 Max Papis Ford Cosworth 25.202 214.554 6 Bryan Herta Ford Cosworth 25.313 213.614 7 Juan Montoya Honda 25.423 212.689 8 Raul Boesel Honda 25.439 212.556 9 Al Unser, Jr. Mercedes-Benz 25.454 212.430 10 Tony Kanaan Honda 25.462 212.364 12 Mark Blundell Mercedes-Benz 25.544 211.682 14 Mauricio Gugelmin Mercedes-Benz 25.617 211.079 18 Helio Castro-Neves. Mercedes-Benz 25.784 209.711 28 Shigeaki Hattori Mercedes-Benz 27.460 196.912

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Shigeaki Hattori , Gil de Ferran , Jimmy Vasser , Raul Boesel , Max Papis , Patrick Carpentier , Tony Kanaan , Mauricio Gugelmin , Bryan Herta , Mark Blundell , Al Unser Sr. , Greg Moore
Teams Team Penske