No storybook ending for Team Player'S as drivers Carpentier and Tagliani compete in front of home fans at Molson Indy Montreal. Montreal, Quebec, August 25, 2002 Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani won the hearts of the fans at the inaugural...
No storybook ending for Team Player'S as drivers Carpentier and Tagliani compete in front of home fans at Molson Indy Montreal.
Montreal, Quebec, August 25, 2002 Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani won the hearts of the fans at the inaugural Molson Indy Montreal on Sunday, but a race win escaped the hometown Team Player's drivers as mechanical problems ousted Carpentier early, while Tagliani tenaciously drove to an 11th-place finish despite a first-lap contact incident, a balky gearbox and no radio.
Scotland's Dario Franchitti earned his second win of the FedEx CART Championship season on Canadian soil he also took the checkered flag in Vancouver while Brazil's Cristiano da Matta took second and fellow Brazilian Tony Kanaan narrowly edged out Canadian Paul Tracy for third.
The third and final Canadian race on this year's CART schedule got off to a tremendous start for Carpentier, much to the delight of the home crowd that crammed the grandstands along Circuit Gilles-Villeneuve. Carpentier, who started fourth on the grid, got around Bruno Junqueira for third on the first turn. When da Matta made an early pit stop on lap 11, Carpentier ran in second place behind Franchitti. He was poised to get back into second place following the first round of pit stops when the car's engine began to cut out on lap 28, ending his race in frustrating fashion.
"It's terribly disappointing the car just lost power on the straight and we had to park it," said an emotional Carpentier. "It's really sad because you don't always have the chance to run up front in front of a home crowd. This whole race week in Montreal has been so fantastic; it's just too bad that it had to end this way. It's racing, but it's tough to swallow. We had a great run going for a while and it would have been terrific to get a podium. Things just didn't work out but I really have to thank the Team Player's crew for a fantastic job and thanks to the fans who gave us such wonderful support. Maybe another time the result will be different."
Tagliani also gained position into the first turn, but his car was tapped from behind by Paul Tracy, causing the Team Player's car to veer slightly off course and make contact with Kenny Brack. After the re-start on lap 4 Tagliani tried to get inside on Jimmy Vasser, but braked a bit late in the Hairpin Turn and went into a spin that cost him several positions. Tagliani spent the rest of the race trying to play catch-up at one point he was 17th but as attrition took its toll during the race, he climbed to 11th place, extending his streak of point-paying races to a career-high nine.
"The hit from behind at the start of the race was the key," said Tagliani. "My rear tire alignment got out of whack and the car got tough to handle. Then we lost third gear, and we had to use fourth a lot of the time. The passing attempt of Jimmy (Vasser) was aggressive, but in this series everyone is aggressive, because you have to be. His car wasn't running as well as mine and I saw an opportunity there. I believe if the car had held up for the whole race that we would have had a podium shot."
The second-place finish by da Matta extended his lead in the drivers' standings to 55 points (161-106 over the second-place Franchitti. Carpentier and Junqueira are tied for third, five points back of Franchitti while Tagliani is in a 7th-place tie with Michael Andretti with 82 points.
Next weekend marks another inaugural race for Team Player's as the CART drivers head to Colorado and the 1.65-mile street course that is venue for the debut of the Grand Prix of Denver.