CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto Mercedes Race Report

Castro-Neves Cracks Top 10 in Toronto Highest Finishing Rookie is Top Mercedes Helio Castro-Neves was the bright spot in an otherwise dark day for the Mercedes-Benz CART teams at the Molson Indy Toronto, round 11 of the FedEx...

Castro-Neves Cracks Top 10 in Toronto Highest Finishing Rookie is Top Mercedes

Helio Castro-Neves was the bright spot in an otherwise dark day for the Mercedes-Benz CART teams at the Molson Indy Toronto, round 11 of the FedEx Championship Series. The Team Alumax driver finished 10th, pulling to within seven points of the Rookie of the Year lead. Meanwhile, Alex Zanardi scored his fourth consecutive Champ Car victory.

Mercedes-Benz fared significantly better at round five of the FIA GT Championship in Budapest, Hungary. Bernd Schneider and Mark Webber won the race, followed closely by their Team AMG-Mercedes teammates Klaus Ludwig and Ricardo Zonta, marking another one-two finish for the Mercedes-Benz CLK-LMs.

Back in Canada, Player’s/Forsythe driver Greg Moore finished 11th, just behind Castro-Neves. Moore ran as high as eighth but suffered a horsepower-robbing popoff valve failure early in the going. Moore slips back to third place in the PPG Cup points standings behind Zanardi and Jimmy Vasser.

Mauricio Gugelmin nursed his Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes-Benz home 12th with a cracked brake rotor, and Al Unser Jr.’s Marlboro-sponsored entry, the last Mercedes-powered car running at the end, finished 17th after being caught up in an incident early in the race.

Unser’s teammate Andre Ribeiro ran in the top 10 for the first half of the race, but retired early with gearbox failure. Hogan Racing rookie JJ Lehto crashed heavily on lap 37, the delayed result of damage suffered in an earlier incident. Patrick Carpentier, who’s Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes was also damaged by contact early in the race, retired on lap 33 with suspension failure, and Mark Blundell left the race with throttle problems on lap 30.

Mercedes Quotes Helio Castro-Neves, No. 16, Alumax Reynard/Mercedes/Goodyear: 10th "We were running pretty good, racing hard. But, unfortunately, the car wasn’t the best, so I just tried to hang on, stay out of trouble, not make a lot of mistakes. I knew a lot of mistakes would happen, and we would be able to move up as the other guys dropped out. In the middle of the race, I lost first gear, but I was still hanging on. I’m very happy to be in the top 10 and get the points for the team."

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 11th "We were running according to plan, just running consistent 61-second laps and staying out of trouble. We figured we’d just run as quick as we could, be consistent and see where we could end up. But somewhere around lap 25 or 30, the popoff valve broke. Once that happened, we had no boost and no power. It was worse than driving a Toyota."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17 Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 12th "We had a lot of rubber buildup on the brake ducts, and the brakes overheated. That caused a vibration and a really soft pedal, so I couldn’t really race too much. Then the rotor started to vibrate, and when it does that it knocks the pads away from the rotor. Eventually, the rotor just broke."

Al Unser Jr., No. 2 Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear: 17th "It was just a bad day for us. The whole team did a great job getting ready for the race today, but we couldn’t get a break. We had a good first pit stop, but unfortunately, I got caught up in the incident in turn three after Jourdain spun and had to come in for a new front wing. We were working our way back up when car 34 (Salles) ran over the right side of my car. Hopefully, next week in Michigan we can turn our luck around."

Andre Ribeiro, No. 3 Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear: 23rd "The gearbox was working fine. Then, on that last lap, as I was going down through the gears at the end of the back straight, and it just let go. It’s a shame because we’re really improving the performance of the car. It’s getting better and better with every race. We’ll just have to work hard and concentrate on making the gearbox more reliable. I’m sure when we start finishing races, we’ll have good results."

JJ Lehto, No. 9, Hogan Racing Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 24th "When I came in for my first pit stop, we checked the car over because somebody, I think it was Unser, had hit the back of my car early in the race. When we went back out the car felt okay, but something at the back went down all of a sudden. I didn’t have any steering at all and went into the wall."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player’s/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 25th "I got hit from behind, and the contact toed one of the wheels out. After that, the car rotated very easily. We pitted and went back out. But when the green flag waved again, I went back to the throttle and spun and hit the wall. It was partly cold tires, but I think mostly the problem with the rear suspension from before."

Mark Blundell, No. 18 Motorola Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 26th "The throttle assembly gave up on us. It was the same problem we had during the warmup this morning. Once that the throttle started sticking, there was no way to control it, no way to actuate the pedal, and that’s what put me into the wall at Detroit, so that was the end of our day."

-------------------------- NetAxis -------------------------- --- NetAxis is MNI's ISP of choice at the '98 Molson Indy --- ---- Toronto -- Montreal -- 514-482-8989 -- 888-482-8989 ---- ----------------- --------------------

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mark Webber , Ricardo Zonta , Al Unser Jr. , Jimmy Vasser , Patrick Carpentier , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Bernd Schneider , Andre Ribeiro , Greg Moore , JJ Lehto