CHAMPCAR/CART: Mercedes Saturday Qualifying Report

Moore Takes Over Top Spot for Mercedes in Final Qualifying Slices Almost a Second to Move Into Top 10 Despite significantly warmer ambient and track surface temperatures, Greg Moore managed to cut .94 seconds off of the lap time he...

Moore Takes Over Top Spot for Mercedes in Final Qualifying Slices Almost a Second to Move Into Top 10

Despite significantly warmer ambient and track surface temperatures, Greg Moore managed to cut .94 seconds off of the lap time he posted during provisional qualifying yesterday, moving the Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes-Benz into the top 10 in final qualifying for tomorrow’s Gold Coast Indy. The Canadian missed scoring his second consecutive CART pole position by a margin of .631 seconds as Dario Franchitti claimed his fifth pole of the season.

Rookie JJ Lehto also improved, picking up more than half a second and three grid positions. He’ll start the Hogan Racing Reynard/Mercedes 15th. Moore’s Player’s/Forsythe Racing teammate Patrick Carpentier struggled with traffic but moved up one spot to 16th on the final grid. Motorola Reynard/Mercedes driver Mark Blundell was unable to improve on his time from yesterday and slipped from 12th to 17th.

After two crashes during practice this morning, one of which damaged his primary car beyond repair, rookie Helio Castro-Neves sat out the final qualifying session. Based on his qualifying time from yesterday, he’ll start the Team Alumax entry 18th.

Al Unser Jr., on the other hand, gave up his qualifying time from yesterday. After a wishbone punctured the carbon fiber tub of his primary car in a crash yesterday, Unser went to the backup Marlboro Penske/Mercedes this afternoon, qualifying 19th.

Hollwood Reynard/Mercedes driver Mauricio Gugelmin and Marlboro Team Penske’s Andre Ribeiro both continued to struggle making only minor improvements. They’ll start 21st and 22nd, respectively.

Tomorrow’s 65-lap, 181.675-mile race will start at 2 p.m. local time and be televised on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. Eastern.

Mercedes Quotes

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Ninth - 92.919 sec.

"I got two laps in on both sets of tires, and that was all I had. Both times I went back out after the first lap and really gave it a ride, went faster than I thought I could, but that was the best we could do. The track was better, and we made some improvements to the car. We just couldn’t make the car work over the curbs as well as the other guys. The fortunate thing is we do have a good race car, but we’re back in ninth for the start, which is obviously not where we want to be."

JJ Lehto, No. 9 Hogan Racing Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 15th - 93.669 sec.

"That was better than I thought it was going to be. I thought it would be slower. The track felt very slippery this morning, and it still feels slippery this afternoon, but we improved our grid position and had a trouble-free run. We’ll see how it goes tomorrow."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 16th - 93.819 sec.

"It went all right, but the track was getting much better there at the end. We just needed one more lap. You get in the slow group and get behind some traffic, and there’s nothing you can do. The speed difference is just so big. I gave myself the whole length of the front straight, but in half a lap I was on the next guy’s gearbox and couldn’t get enough space to get a clear lap."

Mark Blundell, No. 18 Motorola Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 17th - 93.820 sec.

"Obviously we’re disappointed in the result this afternoon. We tried a new setup this morning, and that proved to be detrimental. We went back to yesterday’s program with a few other changes but couldn’t gain any speed. I know we’ll have a good race car tomorrow, but it will be a climb."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2, Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear: 19th - 94.260 sec.

"After going to the backup car due to yesterday’s crash, we were able to improve our time by more than two seconds today. Even with that gain, we’re 19th on the grid, which shows how competitive the CART FedEx Championship Series is. Now we’re going to focus on getting the Marlboro Penske/Mercedes ready for the race. For tomorrow, we need to pick our spots to pass and hope our strategy pays off."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17 Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 21st - 94.375 sec.

"I just couldn’t get the car to stop. I’d come to a braking point, and the rear tires would lock up immediately. And it’s not a braking issue; it’s a balance issue. Apart from that, we had no problems. We’re going to have to change something drastically for tomorrow. We’ve been trying for two days now, and we’re still not right. We’ll make a big change and just keep our nose clean and hope for the best tomorrow."

Andre Ribeiro, No. 3, Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear: 22nd - 94.474 sec.

"Our Saturday morning practice was very encouraging (seventh place) as we continued to improve the Marlboro Penske/Mercedes. We qualified in the heat of the day and suffered from a lack of grip under the high temperatures. We can’t seem to get the power down off of the corners, especially onto the main straight, so our lap time was disappointing. For the race, we must count on our reliability and good strategy from the Marlboro Team Penske crew."

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