CHAMPCAR/CART: Mercedes Thursday Gateway Report

FedEx Championship Series Report Race: Motorola 300, Gateway International Raceway, Madison, Ill. Date/Session: Thursday, May 27, 1999 Practice Moore Leads Mercedes-Benz Contingent At...

FedEx Championship Series Report

Race: Motorola 300, Gateway International Raceway, Madison, Ill. Date/Session: Thursday, May 27, 1999 Practice

Moore Leads Mercedes-Benz Contingent At Motorola 300 Practice

Player's/Forsythe driver Greg Moore posted the third-quickest lap time at the first day of practice for the Motorola 300, round six of the CART FedEx Championship Series. Canadian Moore's time of 25.239 seconds (181.148 mph) over the 1.27-mile Gateway International Raceway oval was just 0.086 seconds slower than that of PPG Cup driver's championship leader Juan Montoya (25.153 seconds/181.768 mph). Moore, who qualified on pole here last year, is currently fourth in the driver's championship standings.

Hogan Racing hotshot Helio Castro-Neves, who posted the fastest race laps at Motegi and Nazareth, pushed his Mercedes-powered Lola to the day's eighth-best time of 25.384 seconds (180.113 mph). The St. Louis-based Hogan team carries a one-race sponsorship this weekend, displaying the logos of the three major-league St. Louis-area sports teams * the MLB Cardinals (baseball), the NFL Rams (football) and the NHL Blues (hockey).

Patrick Carpentier, Moore's teammate, drove hard in the afternoon session, improving from 20th place in the morning to 11th place overall (25.552 seconds/178.929 mph). The PacWest Hollywood team and veteran driver Mauricio Gugelmin struggled to find a shock setup that could handle the bump in turn three, and posted a time of 25.762 seconds (177.471 mph) for 19th place. Gualter Salles, substituting for Roberto Moreno -- who himself is standing in for injured regular Mark Blundell -- finished 21st (25.809 seconds/177.148 mph) in the PacWest Motorola Mercedes. Moreno missed morning practice today to attend Carburetion Day for the IRL's Indianapolis 500. Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes veteran Al Unser Jr., finished 22nd with a time of 25.891 seconds (176.586 mph). His rookie teammate, Tarso Marques, lapped the Gateway oval in 26.239 seconds (174.244 mph) for 25th place. Bettenhausen Motorsports rookie Shigeaki Hattori completed the session in 26th place with a lap of 26.484 seconds (172.633 mph).

Drivers will qualify on Friday. The green flag for the Motorola 300 will wave Saturday, May 29, at 2 p.m. CT (live, ABC-TV).

Mercedes Quotes

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (Third/25.239 seconds) "We didn't test here so we're doing pretty well, especially considering that some of the other teams tested here quite a bit. There are some things we can do tomorrow to improve, but the important thing is that we have a good base to work from. We've learned a lot with the small wing package since Nazareth, and we are okay. "The bump in turn three is really, really, really big, but it's the same for everybody. The guy that's going to win is the one that can handle it the best. We may be able to run up high, but it depends on what happens when NASCAR puts their rubber down, and whether their tires are compatible with ours."

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 9, Hogan Racing St. Louis Sports Mercedes/Firestone (Eighth/ 25.384 seconds) "We were kind of in a rush. We had an oil leak in the gearbox this morning, and we didn't have enough time to put everything together. We were in the first session this afternoon, and didn't want to miss the session. In the beginning we struggled a little bit with understeer in turn four, but when we put on new tires, it got better. We have to work a little harder, but I feel that we have a lot yet to come tomorrow. That's when it counts."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (11th/25.552 seconds) "The session was coming to an end, but I didn't want to finish 13th or 14th. We worked hard, and I drove hard in the last few minutes, and we got up to eighth place. Greg tested the car in Milwaukee last week, and we got some information there. The car is better than it was this morning, and tomorrow we will bring it up even further."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (19th/25.762 seconds) "The car was good in turns one and two this morning, but we needed to work on getting over the bump in turn three. That was the main issue. We knew that if we could get over the bump more quickly without upsetting the car, we would gain a lot of time.

"In the afternoon, we made mainly mechanical changes but we didn't really find a better way. We tried some alternate shocks that made the car ride the bump better, but the changes built a push into the car. We have to work on taking that out. There's still a lot of room for improvement."

Roberto Moreno, No. 18, Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (21st/25.809 seconds) "This session helped me get familiar with the Motorola Mercedes after driving the IRL car this morning. Coming out of those cars, it takes a little more than 45 minutes to get used to the Champ Car again. The Motorola car felt good right away * we just need to fine tune it to my driving style."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2, Marlboro Team Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear (22nd/25.891 seconds) "We lost time in the morning practice session when a problem developed with the flywheel, and we had to pull the car apart to fix it. Fortunately, we ran the full afternoon session, and picked up about half a second from the morning session. I'm still getting used to the Lola chassis and figuring out what it wants. The team did an excellent job getting the car prepared for this weekend."

Tarso Marques, No. 3, Marlboro Team Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear (25th/26.239 seconds) "Even though this is my third oval, each one presents a new challenge. Our track time today was limited when we had several mechanical problems. We know what we have to do tonight, and I'm confident the team will have the car ready to go tomorrow. We really need to get some time on the track to work on our race set up."

Shigeaki Hattori, No. 16, Bettenhausen Motorsports/Mercedes/Goodyear (26th/26.484 seconds) "The car feels much different because we have a different compound and construction tire from the test here. We'll make a few more small steps tomorrow, and the goal will be to qualify in the top 20. The test helped me in many ways, and my communication with Tom (Brown, engineer) is getting easier."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gualter Salles , Al Unser Jr. , Shigeaki Hattori , Tarso Marques , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Greg Moore
Teams Team Penske