Vancouver, British Columbia, September 2, 2001 A Molson Indy Vancouver that was unfolding in flawless fashion for Team Player's on Sunday ended in frustration in the final 30 laps as race leader Alex Tagliani went out with a gearbox problem and...
Vancouver, British Columbia, September 2, 2001 A Molson Indy Vancouver that was unfolding in flawless fashion for Team Player's on Sunday ended in frustration in the final 30 laps as race leader Alex Tagliani went out with a gearbox problem and Patrick Carpentier, engaged in a sprint for the lead, was bumped from behind and out of contention.
The Team Player's drivers' misfortune opened the way for Brazil's Roberto Moreno to claim his second career victory in 96 CART starts, becoming the 10th different driver to win a race in the series this season. Moreno overtook fellow Brazilian Gil de Ferran with 11 laps to go. American Michael Andretti was third in a race that became a timed event of 2 hours, 10 minutes, two laps short of the scheduled 100 laps.
Pole-sitter Tagliani maintained his lead until lap 69 and seemed destined for his first career CART win, when his hopes were dashed after the gearbox let go. Until that point, Tagliani had been in total control throughout the weekend, recording the fastest lap in Friday practice, winning the pole and leading for two-thirds of the race.
"To be that close and have a win go through our fingers is disappointing, no doubt about it," said Tagliani. "More than anything, I'm saddened, rather than angry about it. But we proved we could run at the front. Team Player's is the strongest out there at this stage of the season, and I'm extremely proud of this team. We're definitely the team to beat right now.
"I would have loved to win here in Vancouver for the great fans who came out to support us. It just wasn't to be, but we're going to come back in the next race because we have what it takes to win. We're going to get that victory before this season is over. I'm not giving up by any means. In fact, today's race makes me even more determined."
Except for a few laps when Scott Dixon, who was off pit sequence, was behind Tagliani, the Team Player's duo ran 1-2 in the race. Carpentier slid from second to fourth when he pitted on lap 69, one lap before the race went under caution following an incident involving Max Papis. The yellow worked to the advantage of the eventual podium finishers, but on the re-start on lap 86, Carpentier was poised to make a run at the leaders, however contact from behind by Kenny Brack clipped a rear tire and forced Carpentier into the run-off area. He brought the car into the pits for repairs and returned to the track, finishing 16th.
"There was no way Kenny could pass me there," explained Carpentier. "He tried it once before that and it didn't work, so I don't know why he tried it again. Yes, I'm mad at him, and right now I don't accept his apologies, but I'm not going to argue with him here. It's very frustrating because I needed the points and Team Player's had done such a great job. But it's probably more frustrating for Alex because he deserved the win."
With his second-place effort, de Ferran moved into first place in the drivers' standings with 115 points, five more than Brack and Helio Castroneves, the erstwhile leader who was an early casualty in today's race. Carpentier is in ninth place with 69 points and Tagliani, who picked up two points on the weekend, is 13th with 51 points (one for the pole and one for most race laps led).
Team Player's heads to Europe for the next two races on the CART schedule. The first event, the German 500, takes place on Saturday, September 15, on the 2-mile Lausitz superspeedway.