Kanaan To Start Ninth for Mercedes-Benz in Brazil Brazilian native Tony Kanaan earned the ninth-place starting position today during qualifying for the Rio 200 at the Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rookie Alexandre ...
Kanaan To Start Ninth for Mercedes-Benz in Brazil
Brazilian native Tony Kanaan earned the ninth-place starting position today during qualifying for the Rio 200 at the Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rookie Alexandre Tagliani earned the pole, the first of his career, with a lap of 38.587 seconds (173.903 mph).
Kanaan and team owner Morris Nunn focused on getting as much speed as possible on the straights, sacrificing stability in the corners on the Hollywood Mercedes-Benz.
"Qualifying was reasonable," said Kanaan, whose qualifying lap was 39.101 seconds (171.617 mph). "It's been a tough weekend deciding which aero package to run for qualifying. We wanted to increase speed on the straights and we did it. The low downforce we ran gave me a lighter car around the corners. We'll probably add some front and rear wing for the race to make the car a little more stable.
"Mercedes is doing a good job all the time on improving the engine, and it's only going to get better. I'm happy to work with professionals such as my guys and Mercedes. Morris is very smart. I trust him all the time."
Mauricio Gugelmin, also a native Brazilian, qualified his PacWest Racing/Nextel/Mercedes-Benz 21st with a lap of 39.682 seconds (169.104 mph). He experienced handling problems throughout the weekend including qualifying.
"There was too much push in the middle of the corners," said Gugelmin. "We were losing time on the entrance to the corner and on the exit. Here, it is all about how soon you can get onto the gas (in the corners) to get good straight-line speed. I'm not able to get on the gas soon enough."
Mexico's Michel Jourdain Jr., piloted the Bettenhausen Motorsports/Herdez/ Mercedes-Benz to 22nd in the field with a 39.856-second qualifying lap (168.336 mph).
"We lost a little bit of speed on the straightaway in comparison to this morning's session, and we gained some in the turns," said Jourdain. "We have the least amount of downforce possible and the car developed oversteer exiting the turns."
Mark Blundell, Gugelmin's PacWest Racing teammate who drives the Motorola Mercedes-Benz, qualified 23rd with a lap of 40.073 seconds (167.454 mph). He also experienced similar handling problems as Gugelmin.
"I've got so much understeer in the car. It's so frustrating," said Blundell, who hails from Britain. "When I come off the exit of the corners I go loose. It's a huge disappointment."
Arciero Project Racing driver Luiz Garcia Jr., who is also a native of Brazil, will start his Hollywood Mercedes-Benz 25th. His qualifying time was disallowed because the car was underweight during the post-qualifying technical inspection.
"Unfortunately, we've had a lot of bad luck," said Garcia. "We haven't had enough time on track to work on the car. The car has a lot of potential. We're going to improve the car for tomorrow and find good balance for the race. By midseason we'll be in much better shape."
The green flag will fly for the Rio 200 at 1:30 p.m. local time (12:30 p.m. Eastern), and the race can be seen live on ESPN.
<pre> Qualifying, Rio 200 Rio de Janeiro, Brazil April 29, 2000
Pos. Driver Engine Time Speed 1 Alexandre Tagliani Ford 38.587 173.903 2 Juan Montoya Toyota 38.696 173.413 3 Paul Tracy Honda 38.843 172.757 4 Kenny Brack Ford 38.876 172.610 5 Christian Fittipaldi Ford 38.879 172.597 6 Jimmy Vasser Toyota 38.943 172.313 7 Helio Castro-Neves Honda 38.985 172.128 8 Dario Franchitti Honda 39.026 171.947 9 Tony Kanaan Mercedes-Benz 39.101 171.617 10 Max Papis Ford 39.227 171.066
21 Mauricio Gugelmin Mercedes-Benz 39.682 169.104 22 Michel Jourdain Jr. Mercedes-Benz 39.856 168.366 23 Mark Blundell Mercedes-Benz 40.073 167.454 25 Luiz Garcia Jr. Mercedes-Benz -- --