CHAMPCAR/CART: Portland Mercedes-Benz Friday Qualifying Report

FedEx Championship Series Report Race:Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200, Portland International Raceway, Portland, Ore. Date/Session:Friday, June 18, 1999 Provisional Qualifying Carpentier Leads Mercedes-Benz Contingent At Portland Practice Mercedes...

FedEx Championship Series Report

Race:Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200, Portland International Raceway, Portland, Ore. Date/Session:Friday, June 18, 1999 Provisional Qualifying

Carpentier Leads Mercedes-Benz Contingent At Portland Practice Mercedes IC108E V8 Powers Five Champ Cars To Top 10 Placings

While the Pacific Northwest weather played its full repertoire over Portland International Raceway, the Mercedes-Benz IC108E Phase III V8 powered five drivers to the top of the time sheets at today's provisional qualifying for the Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200, round eight of the CART FedEx Championship Series. Player's/Forsythe driver Patrick Carpentier was second-fastest behind Richie Hearn. Hogan Racing sophomore phenom Helio Castro-Neves was fourth-quickest on the newly configured 1.969-mile Portland road course. Roberto Moreno, Al Unser Jr., and Tarso Marques also posted top-10 lap times.

Torrential rains during the first session slowed lap times considerably, but the sun came out for the second group. With a switch to a dry set up and slick tires, Carpentier turned a lap in 60.576 seconds (117.017 mph). Castro-Neves, who posted his first Champ Car pole position in Milwaukee two weeks ago, overcame mechanical difficulties with both of his Lola race cars to produce a lap time of 61.722 seconds (114.844 mph). Roberto Moreno, substituting for the injured Mark Blundell in the PacWest Motorola Mercedes, lapped the course fifth-fastest with a time of 61.782 seconds (114.732 mph).

Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes veteran Unser Jr., who scored the first victory of his Champ Car career in the inaugural Portland event in 1984, drove his Lola Champ Car to a seventh-quickest time of 62.156 seconds (114.042 mph). Unser Jr.'s rookie teammate Marques, driving the No. 3 Marlboro Team Penske Mercedes, lapped the circuit in 62.485 seconds (113.442 mph), fast enough for eighth position.

Greg Moore's Player's/Forsythe team took a gamble with a set up better suited to dry conditions, and finished 18th (72.621 seconds/97.608 mph). Mauricio Gugelmin suffered clutch problems with both of his PacWest Hollywood Mercedes race cars, and turned a lap of 72.942 seconds (97.179 mph) in the rain-soaked opening session. Epson Bettenhausen Motorsports rookie Shigeaki Hattori spun twice during the second session (75.811 seconds/93.501 mph).

The green flag for the Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 will wave Sunday, June 20, at 1 p.m. PT (live, ABC-TV, 4 p.m. ET).

Mercedes Quotes

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (Second/60.576 seconds) "Mercedes has made a lot of improvements since Long Beach. The driving curve and throttle response is much smoother in the wet conditions. I am very happy with it. "The car is still a little bit loose in the last corner coming onto the front straight, but the engineers know what to do. I want to be in the top five tomorrow. We are starting to manage our races much better, and I really want to get to the podium this time."

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 9, Hogan Racing Mercedes/Firestone (Fourth/61.722 seconds) "My suspension on the spare car broke this morning -- we don't know why. We had electrical problems with this car in the morning as well, and so we almost didn't make the session this afternoon. We just haven't had enough time to work on the cars, so fourth is really not too bad."

Roberto Moreno, No. 18, Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (Fifth/61.782 seconds) "Provisional qualifying went quick well. We gambled a bit on the set up for the car, and it paid off. We just need to do a little work to get it one hundred per cent for tomorrow. We had made some changes to get the car set up for the wet conditions, and they didn't work as well once the track dried. Nevertheless, I'm very pleased with my engineers. It's certainly nice to come back to Portland after three years and run this well. I'm looking forward to final qualifying on Saturday."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2, Marlboro Team Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear (Seventh/62.156 seconds) "This was our first qualifying session on a road course with the Marlboro Mercedes Lola. We're learning more about the car with every lap we run. When my dry tires came in on my last timed lap, the car felt good, and we were able to get our fastest time."

Tarso Marques, No. 3, Marlboro Team Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear (Eighth/62.485 seconds) "We capitalized on the changing track conditions throughout our session, and by our tenth lap (after we switched to dry tires), we set the pace. Portland is a tight circuit, making it difficult to pass. Unfortunately, we encountered traffic at the end of the session which held us up."

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (18th/72.621 seconds) "We left our dry set up on the car, and it was probably not the best thing for the track conditions we had today. The track is completely different from when we tested here earlier this season, so you can't compare. We have to hope it's dry tomorrow."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (21st/72.942 seconds) "We had a pretty loose car at high speed, and some push in the slow areas of the circuit. We didn't change the car for a wet set up, though. Apart from the balance, the car was trouble-free "It's a pity about the weather. I think tomorrow will be dry anyway, so these wet times will be irrelevant."

Shigeaki Hattori, No. 16, Bettenhausen Motorsports/Mercedes/Goodyear (27th/75.811 seconds) "There was so much horsepower that with cold tires, I just spun the car. Since it was so late in the session, I didn't have time to warm up the tires, so when I went off line to let a faster car go by, it just came around."

Practice, Budweiser/G.I. Joe's 200 Portland, Ore. June 18, 1999

Pos. Driver Engine Time Speed 1 Richie Hearn Toyota 60.394 117.369 2 Patrick Carpentier Mercedes-Benz 60.576 117.017 3 Robby Gordon Toyota 61.138 115.941 4 Helio Castro-Neves Mercedes-Benz 61.722 114.844 5 Roberto Moreno Mercedes-Benz 61.782 114.732 6 Michel Jourdain, Jr. Ford Cosworth 61.913 114.490 7 Al Unser Jr. Mercedes-Benz 62.156 114.042 8 Tarso Marques Mercedes-Benz 62.485 113.442 9 Luiz Garcia Jr. Ford Cosworth 63.216 112.130 10 Scott Pruett Toyota 63.241 112.086 18 Greg Moore Mercedes-Benz 72.621 97.608 21 Mauricio Gugelmin Mercedes-Benz 72.942 97.179 27 Shigeaki Hattori Mercedes-Benz 75.811 93.501

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Robby Gordon , Al Unser Jr. , Shigeaki Hattori , Tarso Marques , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Mauricio Gugelmin , Scott Pruett , Mark Blundell , Richie Hearn , Greg Moore , Michel Jourdain , Luiz Garcia Jr.
Teams Team Penske