Motegi, Japan, May 15, 2000 After spending a bit of time absorbing the local cuisine and culture upon arriving in Japan early this week, Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani have turned their attention from pleasure to...
Motegi, Japan, May 15, 2000 After spending a bit of time absorbing the local cuisine and culture upon arriving in Japan early this week, Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani have turned their attention from pleasure to business as they prepare to tackle the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval, the site of Round 4 in the FedEx CART championship.
The Firestone Firehawk 500 is a relatively new stop for the CART series the 201-lap race that starts at 12:30 p.m. local time on Saturday (11:30 p.m. Friday in the Eastern time zone) is the fourth edition of the Motegi event. But Carpentier, who has raced twice on the Twin Ring, and Tagliani, who made his Japanese debut last year, know what to expect on the wide, lightning-fast oval.
"I'm sure it's going to be a very fast race with a lot of good wheel-to-wheel racing because of the wide track," predicted Carpentier, who missed last year's race at Motegi because of a wrist injury. "It's going to be tough, but Team Player's is ready for the challenge. Personally, I like the track a lot. It's shaped a bit like the Gateway oval in Madison, where the CART series used to race, except it's a quarter of a mile longer. I finished second twice in Madison, so maybe that can serve as an inspiration for Motegi."
Another favourable factor for Team Player's is that Ford-powered cars have won all three of the races held thus far at Motegi and they have five victories in their last five starts on 1.5-mile oval tracks.
Tagliani, who qualified on Row 5 last year and was running a strong race until a refueling problem arose, just missed getting into the points in his Japanese debut. With the experience he was able to acquire in Japan last year, Tagliani is confident that he can improve on his rookie performance at Motegi.
While Tagliani expressed disappointment with the outcome of the first three races this season, he is convinced that better days are ahead.
"There have been signs in each of the last three races that Team Player's has the car to be right in contention," he noted. "We're going to keep plugging away and I'm sure it's going to pay off soon. There's a long season still ahead but there's no doubt that we're hungry to start racking up some points."
Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Firestone Firehawk 500 by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on The Sports Network at 11:30 p.m. ET on Friday.
<pre> WEEKEND SCHEDULE Japan Time Montreal Time (-13) Thurs. May 17 CART practice 9:45 a.m. 11:30 a.m. 8:45 p.m. 10:30 p.m. (Wed) CART practice 1:45 p.m. 3:15 p.m. 12:45 a.m. 2:15 a.m. (Thurs)
Fri. May 18 CART practice 9:30 a.m. 10:15 a.m. 8:30 p.m. 9:15 p.m. (Thurs) CART practice 10:30 a.m. 11:15 a.m. 9:30 p.m. 10:15 p.m. CART Qualifying 1:30 p.m. 3:00 p.m. 12:30 a.m. 2:00 a.m. (Fri)
Sat. May 19 CART Warm Up 9:00 a.m. 9:30 a.m. 8:00 p.m. 8:30 p.m. (Fri) CART Race 12:30 p.m. 11:30 p.m. (Fri)