Cleveland, Ohio, July 1, 2001 Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani hung tough through a grueling 100 laps on the 2.106-mile Burke Lakefront Airport road course on Sunday to take ninth place at the Grand Prix of Cleveland, his best performance of...
Cleveland, Ohio, July 1, 2001 Team Player's driver Alex Tagliani hung tough through a grueling 100 laps on the 2.106-mile Burke Lakefront Airport road course on Sunday to take ninth place at the Grand Prix of Cleveland, his best performance of the season in the FedEx CART Championship. It was the third time in the last four races that Tagliani has earned points.
The race ended in frustrating fashion for Tagliani's teammate Patrick Carpentier, who was squeezed out by Oriol Servia on the notorious first turn on the opening lap and the ensuing contact sent his car and three others off into the infield grass. The first-lap incident produced the only full-course caution of the race won by Scotland's Dario Franchitti for his first victory since 1999. Franchitti barely had enough fuel to hold off Americans Memo Gidley and Bryan Herta.
While the first-turn incident involving Carpentier was occurring, Tagliani went to the inside of the track and moved from his seventh place starting position to second, behind leader Max Wilson. Tagliani maintained that pace for several laps before he started losing ground. At one point during the race, Tagliani slipped to 14th, before rebounding in the closing laps to take 9th place.
"We changed the set-up and went with softer springs for the first time this weekend because we thought that was the way to go," explained Tagliani. "We guessed on the front wing set-up and on the tire pressure. It worked well at the start, because the track was slippery, but it didn't work as well once more rubber was laid down. That's why I slipped down the leader board. Team Player's made two adjustments on the front wing during my two pit stops and everything was working well at the end."
Tagliani was about 10 laps into the race when he lost telemetry and dash display. That cost him time coming in and out of the pits and affected the race strategy that Team Player's had devised. It also forced Tagliani to go into a conservative fuel consumption mode and resulted in a late splash-and-go, 10 laps from the checkered flag. "With all of the things that happened during the race, I'll take 9th place, but my aim is much higher," said Tagliani. "We're definitely on the right track, and if we keep working hard, nobody is going to stop us."
The first corner on the Cleveland track has ended the race for a number of drivers over the years, because, as Carpentier, explained, "everybody comes in wide and has to turn in the funnel. There's no way everyone can get through at the same time.
"I don't know where (Oriol) Servia thought he was going," added Carpentier who said the slightly bruised wrist he sustained in the incident was nothing to worry about. "He used me instead of his own brakes. I couldn't go to the outside because (Tony) Kanaan was there. It's obviously disappointing for Team Player's because the car was running well during the warm-up and I was looking for a good finish."
The CART series now shifts to Team Player's home soil for the Molson Indy Toronto, the first of two Canadian stops on the schedule. The road-course event takes place on Sunday, July 15.