Monterey, California, October 13, 2001 In a qualifying session where the temperature on the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca road course reached 121Âº F, Team Player's drivers Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier clocked the 8th- and 9th-fastest times and...
Monterey, California, October 13, 2001 In a qualifying session where the temperature on the 2.238-mile Laguna Seca road course reached 121º F, Team Player's drivers Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier clocked the 8th- and 9th-fastest times and will start Sunday's Grand Prix of Monterey on Row 4 and 5 respectively.
Gil de Ferran, whose spin in the last two minutes of the session brought out the red flag to prematurely end the qualifying, took the pole with a time of one minute, 8.596 seconds, while his Brazilian teammate Helio Castroneves, the defending champion in Monterey, joined him on the front row.
Tagliani, who had a frustrating practice run on Friday and Saturday, was elated by the improvement in the car for the qualifying session, in which he registered a quick lap of 1:09.560 (118.825 miles per hour). "It was a great qualifying session because we were nowhere before," he remarked. "But today we used Pat's setups and it solved the problem. Instead of being 22nd, Team Player's is now 8th and 9th, which is real good."
Tagliani said the Team Player's crew made major changes on the car prior to the qualifying session. These involved changes to the differential, the front and rear setup, the undertray, the geometry of the car and a displacement of the ballast weight. "What the changes did was give us a car that is well-balanced," explained Tagliani. "I had been looking for oversteer all weekend and I finally got it during the qualifying session. There were a lot of positives today that we can carry into the race."
With about two minutes to go in the session, Carpentier was on a flying lap that put him on a pace to climb into fifth place on the leader board. However, going into turn 10, his transmission packed up and jammed the gears, so that it was impossible to shift. At about the same time, de Ferran had his mishap that brought out the session-ending red flag.
"It's too bad we weren't able to jump five positions on the grid because that would mean five less cars to pass during the race," said Carpentier, whose best qualifying lap was run in a time of 1:09.586 (115.782 mph). "Still, I have a good feeling about the race. I'm going to go all out, that's for sure. We have a very good car right now that is well balanced, and Team Player's is very good in the pits, so I'm confident we can move up the field on race day.
Carpentier, who won the Hard Charger Award at Laguna Seca last year for making the biggest gain during the race, going from 18th on the grid to a 9th-place finish, said his previous performance at Laguna shows that passing is possible on this track. "I expect there will be some battles out there on the track and in the pits tomorrow because we're looking at a two-stop race."
Racing fans can follow the progress of Team Player's throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's web site at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on The Sports Network starting at 4:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.