CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto Sunday warmup report

Motorsport News International Toronto Canada July 19 1998 In the Sunday warmup, the drivers were continuing to grapple with lack of traction on the cement patches on the track. Drivers had expected the situation to improve as the amount of ...

Motorsport News International Toronto Canada July 19 1998

In the Sunday warmup, the drivers were continuing to grapple with lack of traction on the cement patches on the track. Drivers had expected the situation to improve as the amount of rubber on the track increased over the weekend, but this turned out to help much less than was thought.

"The cement is not getting any better," said Patrick Carpentier (Player's Reynard-Mercedes) this morning. This was borne out by the events of the morning warmup, as both front row men, polesitter Dario Franchitti (KOOL Reynard-Honda) and defending champion Alex Zanardi (Target Reynard-Honda) just barely avoided the wall. Each found an exit road instead after losing traction in a corner, in two separate incidents. Zanardi ended up not setting a competitive time in the session, though his team-mate Jimmy Vasser did top the timesheets.

The organizers are considering replacing the concrete with a different type in time for next year's Molson Indy, and for most drivers, this is none too soon -- actually it'll be a year too late for many.

Most teams were conesnt to use the session to fine-tune the settings they had come up with in the two days of practice and qualifying, avoiding any radical experiments. Scott Pruett (Visteon Reynard-Ford), 8th on the grid, was hoping for a repeat performance, "Last year our settings came good in the race," instead of trying to find something completely new. Things seem to bode well for the veteran Pruett, as he turned in the second-best time in the warmup.

With an increasing number of two-car teams (Penske, Newman-Haas, PacWest, Patrick, Rahal, Green) there is an opportunity for the drivers to work together to find the perfect setup. This works well at teams like Green, where Franchitti and Paul Tracy were able to take advantage of each others' experiences to find the pole performance on Saturday.

The benefits are much smaller on teams where the drivers have radically different chassis setups. As an example, at Team KOOL Green, Carpentier says that [Greg Moore's] driving style is quite different." As a result, each driver has to do his own work to find the right settings.

the worst off appears to be the PacWest team of Mark Blundell and Mauricio Gugelmin, running Reynard-Mercedes. From the front of the field last year, the team has dropped to mid-pack and worse. Blundell qualified 15th and Gugelmin 19th, although Gugelmin was hopeful after a 10th in the warmup session. "We made some shock adjustments, and things got a little brighter. There is still a lot of work to do, though."

Blundell fell back, but felt it wasn't anything specific to Toronto or the rack conditions. "As a team, we have not been the chassis together this year." Not being one to give up easily, though, Blundell admitted that "we have problems, but we'll try our best."

Third in the session was Bryan Herta (Shell Reynard-Ford), coming up from a 17th position on the grid. No unbounded optimism was to be found in the Herta camp, though, only guarded hope. "We'll see what happens, but at least [the car] is much better today."

Not much time now -- the race is set to get under way at 2 PM EST.

-------------------------- NetAxis -------------------------- --- NetAxis is MNI's ISP of choice at the '98 Molson Indy --- ---- Toronto -- Montreal -- 514-482-8989 -- 888-482-8989 ---- ----------------- http://www.netaxis.ca/ --------------------

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Alex Zanardi , Bryan Herta , Scott Pruett , Mark Blundell , Greg Moore