Last lap is best for Team Player'S driver Patrick Carpentier in first qualifying run at Mexico Grand Prix. Mexico City, Mexico, November 15, 2002 Patrick Carpentier of Team Player's powered his way up the leader board on his last flying lap of...
Last lap is best for Team Player'S driver Patrick Carpentier in first qualifying run at Mexico Grand Prix.
Mexico City, Mexico, November 15, 2002 Patrick Carpentier of Team Player's powered his way up the leader board on his last flying lap of the day on Friday to post the sixth fastest time in the first qualifying session for Sunday's Grand Prix Telmex-Gigante, the final race of the 2002 FedEx CART Championship.
Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani, who found himself in heavy traffic on a number of his hot laps, clocked the 14th quickest lap on the 2.786-mile road course at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez. Brazil's Bruno Junqueira, the only driver to record a time under 1 minute, 26 seconds (1:25.941) took the provisional pole and the accompanying bonus point to extend his second-place lead over Carpentier in the drivers' standings to four points.
Until his dramatic last lap of 1:26.904 (115.410 mph / 185.734 km/h), Carpentier seemed destined to finish well back of the leaders. But racing flat out on the challenging and, in places, snaky and bumpy course, Carpentier shaved more than 6 tenths of a second off his best previous run of the qualifying session. His fast lap was also a marked improvement of 2.5 seconds over his best performance in morning practice.
"I know that a lot of other teams improved their times from this morning, but most of them were in the 2-second range," said Carpentier. "I'm very pleased to end up in sixth, considering where I was going into that final lap. With Bruno getting that extra point for the pole, it makes it a bit tighter to catch him for second place. It's going to be tough but I think I can do it. I'll try to take the pole from him in Saturday's final qualifying."
Carpentier who described the new CART venue in Mexico City as "a beautiful set-up", said the track has a series of S-shaped configurations where his Player's-Reynard may have lost some tenths of a second. "The set-up on the car is good, we just need to work on the balance and get it stabilized in those S sections. There are a series of these S-shapes between corners 7 and 13 that never seem to end," he added.
Tagliani, who was among the first drivers out of the pits for the qualifying session, which was run under some sprinkles of rain, had a few opportunities to improve on his best lap of 1:27.483 (114.646 mph / 184.504 mph), but clear laps were hard to come by.
"I got blocked quite a few times on quick laps," he said. "That's why I don't think the time we clocked really represents what the car can do. We should be higher than we are right now, and I'm convinced that we will be better for the final session on Saturday."
Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix Telemex-Gigante presented by Banamex/Visa throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on The Sports Network starting at 4:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.