CHAMPCAR/CART: Motegi Pacwest Mercedes-Benz could upset party for Japanese manufacturers

(Motegi, Japan) – Japanese manufacturers Honda and Toyota are yet to win a Champ Car race on home soil at Twin Ring Motegi – PacWest Mercedes-Benz drivers Mark Blundell and Mauricio Gugelmin are hoping to help that trend continue in the fifth...

(Motegi, Japan) – Japanese manufacturers Honda and Toyota are yet to win a Champ Car race on home soil at Twin Ring Motegi – PacWest Mercedes-Benz drivers Mark Blundell and Mauricio Gugelmin are hoping to help that trend continue in the fifth round of the FedEx Championship Series on Saturday.

Ford driver Adrian Fernandez has won the two races previously held at the magnificent Japanese circuit, which was built by the Honda Motor Corporation and opened in 1997.

While Fernandez and several other Ford drivers will again be out to upset the “home” race party on Saturday, Blundell and Gugelmin are quietly confident that it can be their German-made Mercedes-Benz machines, which can lead the field to the checkered flag.

Blundell, who is currently 11th in the championship with 11 points, has produced two consecutive top-10 finishes in his #18 Motorola PacWest Mercedes-Benz. He started 20th and finished eighth in round three in Long Beach – recording the third-fastest lap of the race. Blundell then started 23rd and finished 7th in Rio to win the Budweiser “Hard Charger” award – The Englishman as improved a total of 28 places in the last two races – more than anyone else in the championship.

Gugelmin qualified on the front row at Motegi last year and led 21 laps before eventually finishing seventh after a few mid-race problems. The talented Brazilian will be running his car with “NEXNET” signage this weekend – Nextnet being the operating name of his regular sponsor, Nextel, in Japan.

MARK BLUNDELL - #18 MOTOROLA PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ “We have proven we can run at the front, we just need to get our qualifying performance together so we don’t waste all our energy on fighting our way through the field,” said Blundell. “We have all the ingredients, we just need to put them together. “Mercedes-Benz have been working hard to give us the best engine package possible and it would be a great reward for them and the PacWest team if we could come up with a win and upset the Japanese manufacturers this weekend.”

MAURICIO GUGELMIN - #17 NEXTEL PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ “We have been struggling in qualifying and it is no secret that that’s an area we have to improve on if we are to score some serious points,” said Gugelmin. “We qualified on the front row at Motegi last year and there is no reason why we cannot do that, or go even one better this weekend. “We may not have won a race so far this year, but our performances have not been as bad as the points table may indicate. We are getting closer (to a win) every time we go out.”

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Mark Blundell