CHAMPCAR/CART: Monterey: Team Player's preview

Rugged layout of Laguna Seca is a welcome challenge for Team Player's drivers Carpentier and Tagliani at CART's Grand Prix of Monterey. Monterey, California, June 6, 2002 With its daunting Corkscrew Curve and its hilly, frequently twisty layout...

Rugged layout of Laguna Seca is a welcome challenge for Team Player's drivers Carpentier and Tagliani at CART's Grand Prix of Monterey.

Monterey, California, June 6, 2002 With its daunting Corkscrew Curve and its hilly, frequently twisty layout in the shadows of the surrounding mountains, the Laguna Seca road course represents a formidable challenge for drivers in the CART Fed Ex Championship. But it is a challenge that Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani are eager to undertake at Sunday's 90-lap Grand Prix of Monterey, the fifth race of the season in the CART series.

"Actually, I still consider Laguna Seca as my favourite track in the series," remarked Carpentier. "Maybe it's because I really enjoy the ruggedness of the Laguna Seca setting, or maybe it's because mountainous areas have always had a certain appeal to me, but I like racing in this type of environment. I haven't had the kind of success I would like in the times I've raced at Laguna Seca but that has just made me even more determined to overcome the challenge that this road course presents."

While last year's race in Monterey ended early for both Carpentier and his teammate Alex Tagliani when their cars inadvertently came in contact with each other, Carpentier saw the Laguna Seca layout from a different perspective two years ago. That was the year his car slid off during a qualifying session, flipped backwards over the retaining wall and landed upside-down.

"People remind me about that quite a bit," admitted Carpentier. "But I managed to come back from that adversity to finish ninth in the race, which wasn't too bad under the circumstances. I'm sure another test awaits us in Monterey this weekend, but I'm convinced that Team Player's can do well on that road course. And we need to have a strong performance because getting shut out of the points due to the electronic problems we encountered in Milwaukee last weekend was a major disappointment. You can never get those lost points back but having a strong race at Laguna can at least help compensate for last week's setback."

Tagliani, who qualified eighth at Monterey last year, also has a special regard for the Laguna Seca course, where Team Player's was among the top-three fastest cars during the CART Sneak Preview testing sessions prior to the start of the season.

"It's a track that puts all of your driving skills to a big test," stated Tagliani. "The passing areas aren't too plentiful, other than at the end of the straightaway. You've got to deal with a lot of fast corners and straights, which can make it difficult for car set-ups, and grip is also quite often a problem because the track can get dusty and dirty."

In the 19 years that the Grand Prix of Monterey has been run, 12 of 19 drivers have won from the pole. But because of new rules this season, CART drivers now qualify in one, rather than split groups. Tagliani said the rule change might be especially helpful at Laguna Seca, "because in the past if you were in the first group to go out you would usually be well down the grid in qualifying."

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Grand Prix of Monterey 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 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani