Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 17, 2001 Heading into Road America in quest of a fifth consecutive podium, Team Player's and drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani had their work cut out for them on Friday as they went through a pair of ...
Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, August 17, 2001 Heading into Road America in quest of a fifth consecutive podium, Team Player's and drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani had their work cut out for them on Friday as they went through a pair of practice sessions on the tough 4.048-mile permanent road course.
"We struggled a bit today because the car was slow in the middle of the corners," said Carpentier, who recorded the 18th fastest lap of the combined sessions. "We tried different settings and it didn't change a thing. I found the balance remained fine through all of the changes, but we were never able to improve our lap time. I would have loved to start our weekend on a good note, but today turned out to be more of a learning process for us than anything else. Team Player's has been there before and we've always come up with solutions. The engineers will get together tonight to discuss things and we should rebound well for qualifying on Saturday."
Tagliani, who clocked the 20th quickest combined time, had to contend with a lack of grip, and that cost him precious time when he was running hot laps, particularly in the afternoon session, which was frequently disrupted by a series of red flags. Gil de Ferran of Brazil was the fastest to tour the venerable road course, doing so in 1 minute, 41.055 seconds, just over two-tenths of a second quicker than American Jimmy Vasser.
"I'm disappointed to be as far down from the leaders as I am," remarked Tagliani, whose fast lap of 1 minute, 42.863 seconds came in the morning run. "I'm off by more than 2.5 seconds from last year's qualifying time (when he came within 9 one-hundredths of a second of winning the pole). The car is very comfortable everywhere on the track, but it lacks mechanical grip. Tonight, the engineers will decide whether we might take some of last year's set-ups and try them on the car."
Carpentier, whose fastest lap of the day 1:42.668 came early in the afternoon session, said Team Player's started the day with car set-ups similar to those used last weekend at Mid-Ohio, a permanent road course where Carpentier finished third for his third consecutive podium. "But at Road America, everything is different the track surface, the long straights, greater elevation changes and the speed that you need in the corners to have a proper exit," he explained. "It was a worth a try, but from what we learned today, we still have a lot of work to do to come up with a solution."
Carpentier is in the fast group of qualifiers for the Saturday session, and because of the length of the track, he said every lap will be crucial. "You're not going to get that many opportunities for a hot lap in a half-hour session," he said. "If there are a lot of red flags, like there were in both the morning and afternoon sessions, your chances are even further reduced, so you'd be able to let it all hang on the few runs that you're going to get."
Racing fans can follow the progress of Team Player's throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's web site at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the 55-lap race on tape delay on The Sports Network starting at 8:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.