CHAMPCAR/CART: Rio Qualifying report

RIO 400 Saturday Today Rio saw its usual weather come back. The sun was shining hot all day and the sky was without any clouds. The drivers were still a bit lost with setup, but were hoping to have a cleaner track than on Friday to help find a...

RIO 400 Saturday

Today Rio saw its usual weather come back. The sun was shining hot all day and the sky was without any clouds. The drivers were still a bit lost with setup, but were hoping to have a cleaner track than on Friday to help find a better setup.

Morning practice had Gil de Ferran first, with Christian second and Andretti third. All Goodyear tyres, and this showed that the Goodyears were better.

In qualifying, Matsushita was first out to track and did a 41.159 time which gave him the 26th position for tomorrow's race, his last. Matsushita will retire form CART racing after the RIO 400.

"Of course I want a great result, as this is my last race, but this track is very tricky and my first goal is to keep out of trouble and finish the race well" said the Japanese driver.

Some drivers crashed during qualifying. Alex Barron, Max Papis,Richie Hearn, Al Unser Jr. and Greg Moore all had accidents.

Surprisingly Dario Franchitti from Scotland broke the track record track and got the second pole-position of his CART career.

The Scot had a best time of 39.005 and proved that the Firestone tyres were a lot better in the afternoon, when the track and the air got hotter. The first three starters use Firestone and the first four use Honda engines.

Franchitti was followed by Alex Zanardi, rookie Tony Kanaan and Gil de Ferran.

"I am very happy with this position," said Tony Kanaan, "when we left Nazareth, Steve (Steve Horne, owner of Tasman Motorsports Team) said to me that now he would push a bit more. Our target was top six and I am very happy I did three positions better, but our target for the race is still finish in the points."

Rookie Helio Castro Neves had a great chance to start at the top six, but he made a mistake in his second lap, putting him down in 11th position. "I was very fast at the first lap, but the car was understeering, so I made the roll bar stiffer to get more grip at the front, but it was too much and I oversteered at corner 4 and lost 0.5 sec. I am very confident for and I want to make a great race for all Brazilian fans and for me I want a big birthday present, maybe a win" said Helinho, who will be 23 years old tomorrow.

The race will start at 13:00 (local time) and will have 133 laps.

Marc Zimmermann - Motorsport News International

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Series IndyCar