Cleveland, Ohio, June 30, 2001 Timing was important for Team Player's in Saturday's qualifying for the Grand Prix of Cleveland, as drivers Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier beat the rainstorm and clocked times that put them on Row 4 and 5 ...
Cleveland, Ohio, June 30, 2001 Timing was important for Team Player's in Saturday's qualifying for the Grand Prix of Cleveland, as drivers Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier beat the rainstorm and clocked times that put them on Row 4 and 5 respectively for the 100-lap FedEx CART Championship race on Sunday.
Running in the first group of qualifiers, the Team Player's drivers were able to complete the session on the 2.106-mile Burke Lakefront Airport road course under dry conditions. Rain, accompanied by thunder and lightning, began just as the second group was to begin qualifying. Drivers in Group 2 put in a few laps on wet tires and some switched over to the slicks as the track dried, but the storm got worse, causing the 20-minute session to be suspended temporarily before being resumed with just over 10 minutes left.
Because of the wet track, both before and after the delay, no one in the second group was able to run faster than any of the 13 drivers in the earlier session. As a result, Mauricio Gugelmin's time of 57.356 seconds (132.185 mph) held up, giving the Brazilian his first pole of the season, just ahead of Mexico's Adrian Fernandez. With the seventh and ninth fastest laps, Tagliani and Carpentier also earned a favourable position on the grid. It is Tagliani's best qualifying position of the season and it is the sixth time this year that Carpentier has qualified in the top 10.
"All year, the rain has worked against us, and today we got a break because of it," said Tagliani, who had a quick lap of 57.942 (130.848 mph). "Maybe our luck is finally turning. This isn't the way Team Player's would have liked to get on to Row 4, but we'll take it."
Tagliani battled to improve his time in the closing minutes of the session but had trouble getting a clear lap to do so. "It took quite some time to get the tires up to working temperature because there was too much traffic preventing me from putting in a good clear fast lap," he added. "But all of that had nothing to do with the car, and that's the important thing the car is very good."
Carpentier, who clocked a fast lap of 58.230 (130.201 mph), also said the set-up on his car was good but it was tough to control when he hit some of the major bumps on the demanding course. Carpentier said the Team Player's crew will be working to improve this aspect for Sunday's race, where Carpentier has finished in the top 10 in each of his last three appearances.
"Thanks to the rain upsetting the fast group's qualifying, I'll be starting from the fifth row," noted Carpentier. "It's good to see that luck is on our side for a change. I'm quite happy about getting my sixth top 10 starting position of the season. I know that last year in Cleveland I started 19th and finished fifth, so you can make some big moves on this track."
Racing fans can follow the progress of Team Player's by logging on to the team's web site at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on The Sports Network at 1 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.