CHAMPCAR/CART: Mid Ohio Mercedes Friday Report

Blundell "P-Two" on Day One Mercedes-Benz Powers Three of Top Six at Mid-Ohio Mark Blundell placed his Motorola Reynard/Mercedes-Benz on the front row of the starting grid, at least provisionally, during the first of two qualifying ...

Blundell "P-Two" on Day One Mercedes-Benz Powers Three of Top Six at Mid-Ohio

Mark Blundell placed his Motorola Reynard/Mercedes-Benz on the front row of the starting grid, at least provisionally, during the first of two qualifying sessions for Sunday'’s Miller Lite 200 at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The PacWest Racing entry was the first of three Mercedes-powered cars among the top six.

Despite difficulties during the morning practice session and warmer temperatures in this afternoon’s provisional qualifying session, Patrick Carpentier was fourth fastest, putting his Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes on the outside of the second row.

Carpentier'’s teammate, Greg Moore, fresh off his first 500-mile race win at the U.S. 500 three weeks ago, was sixth fastest.

The Marlboro Penske/Mercedes continued it's steady performance improvement as Al Unser Jr. joined fellow Mercedes runners Blundell, Carpentier and Moore in the top 10, posting the eighth-fastest time of the session.

Rookie JJ Lehto qualified the Hogan Racing Reynard/Mercedes 13th, a scant .001 seconds quicker than Mauricio Gugelmin in the Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes. Marlboro Team Penske'’s Andre Ribeiro followed them closely in 15th, and rookie Helio Castro-Neves was 17th in the Alumax car.

Final qualifying is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Sunday'’s 83-lap, 187.414-mile race will start at 2:00 p.m. EDT and will be televised on ABC starting at 4 p.m.

Mercedes Quotes Mark Blundell, No. 18 Motorola Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Second - 66.372 sec. "I’m very happy. We’re in a good position at the moment. But that'’s happened before. What really counts is Saturday, and then, of course, the race. We'’ve still got quite a lot of work to do, but if we can stay up there at the front, I think we'll have a good chance at getting back into victory circle."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Fourth - 66.425 sec. "We tested here before Michigan, and Mercedes-Benz made some engine changes during the last test. Now it is much easier to get the power down to the track. Now we don’t have as much wheel spin. The most difficult thing here is the low speed corners. The car is pushing and it is loose. That was because the tire pressure went up really high at one point. We need to work on the slow corner setup. The track is not so good either, but it will get better."

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Sixth - 66.597 sec. "I got blocked a little on the last lap, but who knows how fast that would have been? A month ago we tested here. Then we tested at Elkhart Lake last week. You put what we learned at those two tests together and you have the good laps today as a result. The track was very slippery this morning, but the track is getting better and that helped our setup. What is difficult here is you have some slow turns and you have a lot of medium speed turns as well. If you set the car up for one, then you'’re not as good on the others. That is why this is a drive'r’s track, the driver has to make up for the setup in some of the corners where the car isn'’t as good."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2 Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear: Eighth - 66.660 sec. "The car’s running really good. I’m really proud of Goodyear; they'’ve really stepped up and given us great tires here this week. I feel like we’re really ready to go racing. And qualifying, being in the top 10 at Mid-Ohio is excellent."

JJ Lehto, No. 9 Hogan Racing Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 13th - 66.911 sec. "This is the first circuit we'’ve been to where w'e’ve really done some heavy testing. We have the car working nicely. We lost our lead engineer, so the number two engineer, Casper Van Der Schoot, has taken over the lead engineer spot, and he'’s doing a great job. We need to find another half-second, and we'’ll be where we need to be."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17 Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 14th - 66.912 sec. "This morning we had a problem with the primary car. We just couldn'’t make it run properly. So I had to switch to the ‘T’ car. We’re working with this, but we still have a ways to go. Right now, my only problem is I can'’t brake deep enough into the corners; it just goes right into oversteer."

Andre Ribeiro, No. 3 Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear: 15th - 66.932 sec. "I spun off at the last turn before the straight, just lost the rear of the car. The guy's did a great job cleaning the car up, and we were able to get back out there and use our second set of tires. I think it went pretty well. The car is running very well, and tomorrow, if it does not rain, we can definitely improve this time."

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 16 Alumax Reynard/Mercedes/Goodyear: 17th - 67.276 sec. "We had a gearbox problem this morning in both cars, so we had to run with the spare car this afternoon. It seems to be okay. I only did one test here before, and today we were much, much faster than we were at the test. Compared to the other guys, though, we still have a lot of work to do. With more practice, I'’m sure we’re going to be faster tomorrow."

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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