CHAMPCAR/CART: Rio Friday pit notes

Good Morning from Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil for the first day of practice for Sunday's Rio 200, Round Four of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series season. This morning's first practice session is scheduled for the Green Flag at 10:30 a.m. The ...

Good Morning from Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil for the first day of practice for Sunday's Rio 200, Round Four of the 2000 FedEx Championship Series season. This morning's first practice session is scheduled for the Green Flag at 10:30 a.m. The full-field session will last 90 minutes. At 2:30 p.m., the FedEx Championship Series teams will again take to the track for the afternoon practice session. The afternoon's practice session will be on-track for one hour. Saturday's schedule has the Champ Cars again on-track for practice at 9:30 a.m. for a 75-minute session. Qualifying will take the Green Flag at 1 p.m., lasting until 3:15 p.m. Sunday's schedule has the traditional 30-minute warm-up beginning at 9:30 a.m. followed by the Green Flag for the Rio 200 at 1:30 p.m. (All times are local.)

Today's weather is perfect for racing here at Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway at Nelson Piquet International Raceway; bright blue skies and plenty of sun. Temperatures are expected in the mid-nineties before the day is out with no clouds in the forecast. Saturday's forecast has the same predicted temperatures with some clouds possible. Sunday will feature partly cloudy skies and temperatures in a more temperate zone of mid-to-high eighties.

Swiss Timing has announced the track length here at the Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway to be 1.864 miles (2.9824 kilometers). Though classified as an oval, most teams consider the course more of a road-course as far as the racecar set-up is concerned. The track features low banking and heavy braking, especially at Turn 1, which is the exit from a front straightaway measuring approximately three-quarters of a mile. The cars will be in excess of 200 mph (320 kph) at the Start/Finish line, yet have to drop well over 100 mph and three gears in the last hundred yards (30 meters) to maneuver through Turn 1. Therefore, the teams refer to this speedway as a "Roval", part oval and part road course. CART Chief Steward J. KIRK RUSSELL, has announced that Sunday's Rio 200's race length will be 108 laps, totaling 201.3 miles.

There are quite a few changes in the 2000-season line-up of drivers in the FedEx Championship Series. JUAN MONTOYA from Target/Chip Ganassi Racing changes from #4 to #1 to wear the traditional number of the previous year's CART Champion. Marlboro Team Penske features GIL de FERRAN in the #2 Honda Reynard, with teammate HELIO CASTRO-NEVES in the #3 Honda Reynard. SHINJI NAKANO takes over the controls of the #5 Walker Racing Avex Honda Reynard but substitute driver BRYAN HERTA will again be at the controls while NAKANO recuperates from injuries sustained in a practice incident at Milwaukee two months ago. KENNY BRACK is the new driver in the newly colored, Shell-sponsored #8 Ford Reynard. NOBERTO FONTANA will pilot the #10 Della Penna Motorsports VideoMatch Toyota Reynard. MICHEL JOURDAIN Jr. takes over the #16 Herdez-sponsored Bettenhausen Mercedes-Benz Lola. TAKUYA KUROSAWA, sponsored by MCI, will drive the #19 from Dale Coyne Racing. ROBERTO MORENO takes over the Patrick Racing Visteon Ford Reynard #20 and #25 will feature the Hollywood-sponsored LUIZ GARCIA Jr. in the Arceiro Project Racing Group Mercedes Reynard. MEMO GIDLEY will sub for injured Players driver PATRICK CARPENTIER in the Players Forsythe Ford Reynard #32. ALEX TAGLIANI will compete in the Player's Forsythe Racing Team Ford Reynard #33. GUALTER SALLES will drive the second Dale Coyne Ford Lola #34, sponsored by Panasonic. TONY KANAAN moves to the newly formed Mo Nunn Racing Team featuring a Mercedes-Benz Reynard with the number #55, again sponsored by Hollywood. Finally, PPI Motorsports has ORIOL SERVIA campaigning the 2000 season in the #96 Toyota Reynard, sponsored by Telefonica. The second PPI Motorsports car will feature #97, piloted by CRISTIANO da MATTA and sponsored by Pioneer. The CART Rookie Class is standing room only this year with NAKANO, BRACK, FONTANA, KUROSAWA, TAGLIANI and SERVIA competing for the honored distinction of CART Rookie of the Year.

Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway has been the recipient of a three-week cleaning process preceding the arrival of the FedEx Championship Series with most of the cleaning being devoted to the track surface itself. The grit and sand that has bedeviled the engineers' efforts at establishing more traction in past races is noticeably absent this weekend, which should give the tires for bite in the corners, and better control and stability for the drivers.

Speaking of tires, Firestone, the Official Tire of the Fed Ex Championship Series, went through quite a process getting ready for this weekend's Rio 200. Al Speyer, Bridgestone/Firestone Motorsports director, has this quote on the Herculean effort the tire manufacturer had just completed. "Our original plan for Rio had us bringing only the small stagger (0.05 inch) tire, but after feedback from several teams, we made a late decision to rush down the larger stagger (0.35 inches) option as well," said Speyer. "This called for a dedicated effort from everyone involved in the Firestone Racing program to produce, quality check, prepare, and ship some 125 left, rear tires to Brazil in a span of less than two weeks. The timing fell into place and everyone in the organization responded with the professional pride that we knew they possessed. It was a unique situation and one that we could not repeat often. I'd like to thank everyone involved at Firestone for putting out such a significant effort. It's just another example indicating how committed Firestone is to being the best tire supplier that CART has ever had."

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:30 a.m. to start the first practice session of the weekend. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 110 degrees F. (43 degrees C.) and an ambient temperature of 85 degrees F. (29 degrees C.) at the start of the session.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 10:40 a.m. after #19 KUROSAWA has a plume of smoke and fluid erupting from the rear of the car as the driver exits Turn 4. KUROSAWA pulls to the inside of the track at the Start/Finish line as a brief fire breaks out in the engine compartment. CART safety workers quickly extinguish the fire as the driver exits the car.

At 10:40 a.m., 10 minutes into the session and under the Yellow Flag, the fastest driver is #1 MONTOYA with a lap of 163.724 mph (40.986 seconds), followed by #40 FERNANDEZ (163.393 mph; 41.069 seconds) and #3 CASTRO-NEVES (162.811 mph; 41.216 seconds).

At 10:50 a.m., 20 minutes into the session, the top drivers and speeds remain unchanged from the 10:40 a.m. report as the track is still under the Yellow Flag for clean-up operations from the #19 KUROSAWA incident.

GREEN FLAG waves at 10:52 a.m. to resume the session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 10:53 a.m. to #16 JOURDAIN Jr. for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at Pit In. JOURDIAN Jr. subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 10:56 a.m. after #25 GARCIA Jr. stalls at Turn 2. CART safety workers tow the car back to the Pit Road.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11 a.m. to resume the session.

Also at 11 a.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #1 MONTOYA with a faster lap of 166.470 mph (40.310 seconds), followed by #7 PAPIS (165.379 mph; 40.576 seconds) and #12 VASSER (165.155 mph; 40.631 seconds).

YELLOW FLAG waves at 11:03 a.m. after #18 BLUNDELL stalls on course. CART safety workers quickly hook the car up and tow it into the Pit Area.

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:07 a.m. to resume the session.

At 11:10 a.m., 40 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #7 PAPIS with a lap of 167.029 mph (40.175 seconds), followed by #1 MONTOYA (166.838 mph; 40.221 seconds) and #2 de FERRAN (165.939 mph; 40.439 seconds).

YELLOW FLAG waves at 11:16 a.m. after #34 SALLES makes hard contact with the outside wall at Turn 1. The car slides to a stop in the middle of the track at Turn 2. The driver is uninjured in the incident but the car sustains major damage to the right side suspension. CART safety workers quickly clean the debris and tow the car back to the garage area.

At 11:20 a.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #33 TAGLIANI with a lap of 167.500 mph (40.062 seconds), followed by #7 PAPIS (167.192 mph; 40.136 seconds) and #1 MONTOYA (166.838 mph; 40.221 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:25 a.m. to resume the session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:27 a.m. to #11 FITTIPALDI for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at Pit In. FITTIPALDI subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive-through penalty.

At 11:30 a.m., one hour into the session, the fastest driver is again #1 MONTOYA with a lap of 167.810 mph (39.988 seconds), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (167.563 mph; 40.047 seconds) and #33 TAGLIANI (167.500 mph; 40.062 seconds).

YELLOW FLAG waves at 11:32 a.m. after #11 FITTIPALDI stalls on course. CART safety workers quickly get the car towed back to the Pit Area.

At 11:40 a.m., 70 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #1 MONTOYA with a lap of 167.810 mph (39.988 seconds), followed by #11 FITTIPALDI (167.653 mph; 40.047 seconds) and #33 TAGLIANI (167.500 mph; 40.062 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 11:41 a.m. to resume the session.

At 11:50 a.m., 80 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is now #3 CASTRO-NEVES with a lap of 168.531 mph (39.817 seconds), followed by #10 FONTANA (167.873 mph; 39.973 seconds) and #1 MONTOYA (167.810 mph; 39.988 seconds).

BLACK FLAG is shown at 11:52 a.m. to #5 HERTA for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at Pit In at 11:48 a.m. HERTA subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

At 11:56 a.m., #2 de FERRAN clocks the fastest lap of the session with a speed of 169.412 mph (39.610 seconds) on his 17th lap.

CHECKERED FLAG waves at 12 p.m. with the fastest driver still #2 de FERRAN with his earlier lap of 169.412 mph (272.642 kph; 39.610 seconds), followed by #33 TAGLIANI (169.365 mph; 272.567 kph; 39.621 seconds) and #26 TRACY (169.335 mph; 272.518 kph; 39.628 seconds). FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 30 different cars to the track in this morning's session with secondary cars utilized by #8X BRACK, #55X KANAAN, #16X JOURDAIN Jr., #96X SERVIA, #97X da MATTA, #40X FERNANDEZ, and #32X GIDLEY. CART drivers logged a total of 542 laps in this morning's session.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:30 p.m. to start the afternoon session. Firestone engineers report a track temperature of 114 degrees F. (46 degrees C.) and an ambient temperature of 84 degrees F. (29 degrees C.) at the start of the session.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 2:34 p.m. after CART course observers report debris on the course at Turn 3. CART safety workers quickly locate and remove debris on the backstraight.

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:38 p.m. to resume the session.

At 2:40 p.m., 10 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is #33 TAGLIANI with a speed of 167.613 mph (40.035 seconds), followed by #97 da MATTA (167.609 mph; 40.036 seconds) and #2 de FERRAN (167.542 mph; 40.052 seconds).

At 2:44 p.m., #1X MONTOYA logs the fastest lap of the session and the day with a speed of 170.583 mph (39.338 seconds).

BLACK FLAG is shown to #25 GARCIA Jr. after CART course observers report a problem with the car at speed on course.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 2:46 p.m. for a track inspection after CART course observers report possible fluid on the course. CART safety workers quickly inspect the course for a clean-up.

At 2:50 p.m., 20 minutes into the session and under a Yellow Flag, the fastest driver is still #1X MONTOYA with his earlier lap of 170.583 mph (39.338 seconds), followed by #8X BRACK (169.639 mph; 39.557 seconds) and #26 TRACY (169.121 mph; 39.678 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 2:51 p.m. to resume the session.

At 2:58 p.m., #33 TAGLIANI moves to the top of the speedboard on the day with a lap of 171.005 mph (39.241 seconds) on his 17th lap of the session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 2:59 p.m. to #11 FITTIPALDI for a Pit Road speed violation. FITTIPALDI subsequently pits to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

At 3 p.m., 30 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #33 TAGLIANI with his earlier lap of 171.005 mph (39.241 seconds), followed by #1X MONTOYA (170.583 mph; 39.338 seconds) and #8X BRACK (169.639 mph; 39.557 seconds).

The BLACK FLAG is shown at 3:02 p.m. to #96 SERVIA for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at Pit Out. SERVIA subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 3:04 p.m. after CART course observers report debris on the track. CART safety workers quickly inspect and clean the track.

At 3:10 p.m., 40 minutes into the session and under the Yellow Flag, the fastest driver is still #33 TAGLIANI with his earlier lap of 171.005 mph (39.241 seconds), followed by #11X FITTIPALDI (170.831 mph; 39.281 seconds), and #1X MONTOYA (170.583 mph; 39.338 seconds).

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:11 p.m. to resume the session.

BLACK FLAG is shown at 3:12 p.m. to #12 VASSER for a Pit Road speed violation incurred at Pit In at 3:04 p.m. VASSER subsequently pits the car to comply with the Black Flag drive-thru penalty.

At 3:19 p.m., #8X BRACK logs the fastest lap of the day with a lap of 171.136 mph (39.211 mph) on his 17th lap of the session.

Again, at 3:19 p.m., #1X MONTOYA retakes the top speed of the day with a lap of 172.406 mph (38.922 seconds) on his 14th lap of the day.

At 3:20 p.m., 50 minutes into the session, the fastest driver is still #1X MONTOYA with his earlier lap of 172.406 mph (38.922 seconds), followed by #8X BRACK (171.136 mph; 39.211 seconds) and #33 TAGLIANI (171.005 mph; 39.241 seconds).

YELLOW FLAG waves at 3:23 p.m. after #2 de FERRAN spins his car in Turn 3 without making contact with the wall. De FERRAN continues to his Pit Area without apparent damage to the car.

GREEN FLAG waves at 3:26 p.m. to resume the session.

YELLOW FLAG waves at 3:27 p.m. after #17 GUGELMIN spins off course at Turn 4 and makes contact with the rear of the car against the inside tire barrier. The driver is uninjured in the incident and continues down Pit Road with damage to the rear and front wings.

The afternoon's session produces the top three speeds with fastest on the day #1 JUAN MONTOYA in his Target/Chip Ganassi Toyota Lola with his lap of 172.406 mph (277.461 kph; 38.922 seconds), followed by #8X KENNY BRACK in the Shell Ford Reynard (171.136 mph; 275.417 kph; 39.211 seconds) and #33 ALEXANDRE TAGLIANI (171.005 mph; 275.206 kph; 39.241 seconds) in the Players Ford Reynard. FedEx Championship Series drivers introduced 24 different cars in this afternoon's session with secondary cars utilized by #1X MONTOYA, #8X BRACK, #11X FITTIPALDI, #12X VASSER, #96X SERVIA, #20X MORENO, and #16X JOURDAIN Jr. CART drivers logged a total of 482 laps in this afternoon's session. At the end of the day, there are 22 of the 34 cars presented to the track in today's sessions within one second in lap times of the fastest speed posted by MONTOYA.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Nelson Piquet , Emerson Fittipaldi , Chip Ganassi , Dale Coyne , Mo Nunn
Teams Team Penske , Chip Ganassi Racing