HIGH MIXED EMOTIONS AS PACWEST RETURNS TO BRAZIL (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) -- PacWest drivers Mauricio Gugelmin and Mark Blundell head into this weekend's fourth round of the FedEx Championship Series in Rio de Janeiro Brazil with high and mixed...
HIGH MIXED EMOTIONS AS PACWEST RETURNS TO BRAZIL
(Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) -- PacWest drivers Mauricio Gugelmin and Mark Blundell head into this weekend's fourth round of the FedEx Championship Series in Rio de Janeiro Brazil with high and mixed emotions.
For Gugelmin, this weekend's race is one of the most important of the year and the event he wants to win more than any other in the FedEx Championship Series in his #17 Nextel PacWest Mercedes-Benz.
The native Brazilian knows he can run fast on the challenging oval after taking the pole in front of a home crowd in 1997, but his highest ever finish on the Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway was a ninth the following year.
For Blundell, the Rio circuit was the venue for the biggest accident of his career back in 1996 when he hit the wall at turn four at around 180mph in a spectacular crash which resulted in a broken right foot and heavy bruising all over his body in only his second Champ Car start.
Ironically, Blundell missed last year's Rio race after crashing in testing at the Gateway International Raceway -- an accident that sidelined him for eight races.
Both drivers scored points in round three in Long Beach two weeks ago with Blundell recording the third-fast lap of the race in his #18 Motorola PacWest Mercedes-Benz on the temporary Southern California street course.
MAURICIO GUGELMIN - #17 NEXTEL PACWEST MERCEDES-BENZ
"Driving at this circuit is all about late braking and good acceleration," said Gugelmin, who was born in Brazil, but now spends the majority of the year at his Miami residence.
"You are trying to get this balance with the car creating as little drag as possible.
"This is probably the oval where we have the most fun out on the track in the entire season. The down shifts, lines out of the turns and the long straights usually mean there is plenty of opportunity for passing.
"This is also an important race for me because it is one of my "home" races of the season. While I would like to win every race I contest, winning the Rio 200 in my home country in front of family and friends would be a tremendous thrill. "I would certainly love to see a combination of Brazilian and Nextel flags flying after the race."
MARK BLUNDELL - #18 MOTOROLA PACWEST MECEDES-BENZ
"There is no doubt that the 1996 accident was the biggest of my career," said Blundell.
"It hurt, but as far as I am concerned that was a long time ago and you can never let things like that effect you.
"The Rio track is really challenging and is a combination of a road course and oval -- I suppose you could call it a "roval". When you get a good lap here you know it. Hopefully I will experience that this weekend.