CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Team Player's preview

Team Player's aims for the top in the land down under. Surfers Paradise, Australia, October 23, 2002  The CART championship may have already been decided but Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani both say they have plenty...

Team Player's aims for the top in the land down under.

Surfers Paradise, Australia, October 23, 2002  The CART championship may have already been decided but Team Player's drivers Patrick Carpentier and Alex Tagliani both say they have plenty of motivation for the final three races of the season, including this weekend's Hondy Indy 300 on Australia's Gold Coast.

Carpentier, currently fourth in the drivers' standings, can still grab second place and the accompanying $500,000 prize with a strong finish in the final three races. Tagliani, who is in seventh spot, could climb into the top 5 if he can end the 2002 campaign the way he did last year when he closed out with consecutive podium finishes. One of the podiums came on the streets of Surfers Paradise, where he finished third.   

"Motivation isn't going to be a problem for me," said Carpentier. "Whenever I get on a racetrack, my competitive instincts take over. I always want to win and I'm going to give it my best shot. It's always been that way for me and I hope it will always be like that because that's what makes racing so much fun. Besides, it's going to be easy to get into the racing mood in Australia with as many as 130,000 fans in the stands on race day."

Carpentier is further encouraged by the fact no team or driver has dominated on the 2.795-mile, 70-lap temporary street course, as 11 different drivers have taken the checkered flag in the last 11 years. "I guess that goes to show that you need everything working in your favour if you're going to win here," said Carpentier, whose best finish in four years of racing at Surfers Paradise is the fifth place he produced two years ago.

"I know that last year things were going well for Team Player's but then I was assessed what I felt was an undeserved penalty for a pit infraction and that affected the outcome of my race. But if you look at 11 winners in as many years, maybe this year it's our turn to have a big day."

Tagliani, who took the 20-hour flight to Australia a week ahead of time so he could get adjusted to the time change, considers Surfers Paradise the nicest street circuit in the CART series.

"I've always felt that my driving skills are well suited to Surfers Paradise," said Tagliani, who likened the venue to those in Toronto and Vancouver, although he believes the Australia street course has more opportunities for passing, particularly near the end of the long straights. "But like any track, it's sometimes the little things that make the difference between first and second or second and third place. I know that last year, I picked up some rubber on one of the turns and I was passed. Being slowed down for a fraction of a second cost me a higher spot on the podium."     Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at the Honda Indy 300 throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on The Sports Network starting at midnight ET on Saturday.

-player's-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani