CHAMPCAR/CART: Rio Team Player''s preview

Round 3 of FedEx CART Championship RIO RACE HAS TEAM PLAYER’S RARING TO REPEAT ITS SUCCESS IN BRAZIL Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 27, 2000 The first international event of the FedEx CART Championship season the Rio 200 at the Emerson ...

Round 3 of FedEx CART Championship
RIO RACE HAS TEAM PLAYER’S RARING TO REPEAT ITS SUCCESS IN BRAZIL

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, April 27, 2000 The first international event of the FedEx CART Championship season the Rio 200 at the Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway on Sunday also represents a couple of firsts for Team Player’s drivers Alex Tagliani and Memo Gidley.

Tagliani, who tops the CART rookie standings, will be getting his first look at the 1.864-mile modified oval that is situated near the famed beaches of Rio, while Gidley, replacing the injured Patrick Carpentier for the second straight race, will be making his first career CART start on an oval configuration. All of Gidley’s prior starts in the CART series have been on road or street courses.

Tagliani will be out to maintain the momentum of his auspicious debut, which has produced a ninth and fourth-place finish in his first two races of the season. At Rio, he will be competing on a track that has seen Canadian drivers reach the podium three times in the last three years. Greg Moore had a win and a second-place finish at Rio while with Team Player’s, and Paul Tracy took the checkered flag in 1997.

In compiling 16 points in his first two races, Tagliani is off to the fastest start by a Team Player’s rookie driver. Jacques Villeneuve collected no points in his first two CART events, while Greg Moore amassed six points. Carpentier, who collected four points in his first two races as a CART rookie, joined Team Player’s the following season, recording two points in his first two events.

While Tagliani is pleased by the rousing start to his debut season, he is upbeat about other developments that are unfolding.

“It’s nice to be in the lead in the rookie standings after the first two races, but I think what is most important is that we are progressing well in our learning process,” remarked Tagliani. “I’ve been able to build a strong rapport with my engineer Alex Timmermans and the entire Player’s crew. We’re all pulling in the same direction and I think that spirit of collaboration is evident in the results that we’ve been able to produce so far.

“The race in Rio will be a new experience for me, my first opportunity to drive on the Emerson Fittipaldi oval. I know that the Player’s team has a history of success at that track, with a win there in 1998. We’ll try to use that formula of success and the things we’ve learned in the first two races to maintain Team Player’s fine record in Rio.”

Gidley, who was in contention in Long Beach his first race as Carpentier’s replacement before retiring near the midway point, is primed to meet the challenge posed by Rio’s modified oval.

“I was really happy with how quickly I was able to adjust to my new surroundings in the Long Beach race,” said Gidley. “From top to bottom, Team Player’s was outstanding, both in welcoming me to the team and providing me with a car that was certainly capable of running with the contenders. I have no doubt that will be the case at Rio, and I’m going to go all out to repay the team for its faith in me.”

Racing fans can watch the 108-lap Rio 200 live on The Sports Network at 12:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Jacques Villeneuve , Memo Gidley , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Emerson Fittipaldi , Greg Moore , Alex T Jones