CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: Team Player's race report

Tagliani and Carpentier hang tough to earn hard-earned points at Molson Indy Toronto. Toronto, Ontario, July 7, 2002 Tenacious and unruffled during a gruelling 112-lap race on the tight and marble-laden Toronto street circuit, Team Player's ...

Tagliani and Carpentier hang tough to earn hard-earned points at Molson Indy Toronto.

Toronto, Ontario, July 7, 2002 Tenacious and unruffled during a gruelling 112-lap race on the tight and marble-laden Toronto street circuit, Team Player's drivers Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier drove to a 7th- and 10th-place finish respectively at Sunday's Molson Indy Toronto, the eighth race of the Fed Ex CART Championship and the first of three races in Canada.

Both Team Player's drivers gained four positions from their respective spots on the starting grid in recording their fifth top-10 finish of the season. While Tagliani and Carpentier had the top finishes by Canadian drivers, the race win went to Brazil's Cristiano da Matta. It was da Matta's fourth straight win, tying a CART record for consecutive victories in a single season previously set by Al Unser Jr. and Alex Zanardi. Sweden's Kenny Brack finished second and Brazil's Christian Fittipaldi was third.

Tagliani, who battled understeering early in the race, had difficulty making up race positions but he managed to stay on the lead lap, fighting hard as race-leader da Matta was bearing in on him. He managed to maintain a steady pace as the race progressed, despite some bumps from other drivers and a build-up of marbles on the track, where temperatures reached about 120 F.

"It was tough out there today," admitted Tagliani. "The Team Player's crew adjusted the tire pressure and the front wing to solve the understeering problem. Passing was hard as well because of all the marbles on the track. When we were going around the track under yellow, there must been a half-inch accumulation of marbles on the tires. Then, on lap 72, I got bumped by Dario (Franchitti) and almost lost a lap.

"Seventh place isn't the result I was hoping for in front of a home crowd, but under the circumstances, we'll take the points. I'm happy for the people at Team Player's because they put a great deal of effort into the entire race weekend."

Carpentier was also satisfied that he was able to collect a couple of points, particularly since a traction control problem that began in the qualifying sessions continued during Sunday's race. "We finally had to disconnect it," explained Carpentier. "It's been a tough weekend because when you don't have traction control working as it should it becomes very difficult to set up the car properly. We spent more time trying to fix it in qualifying than setting up the car.

"Then, during the race, after we went without the traction control, it made it hard to control the car in the corners. When you don't have traction control, the wheels spin more. I brushed the wall a couple of times but managed to save it. Considering the difficulties we had this weekend, the goal was to score some points and thanks to some good work by Team Player's, we were able to do that."

By earning 23 points on the weekend, da Matta extended his lead in the drivers' standings to 48 points (118-70) over Brazilian Bruno Junqueira. Tagliani and Carpentier are 8th and 9th with 42 and 41 points respectively. Round 9 of the CART series moves to the wide temporary road course at the Burke Lakefront Airport for the Grand Prix of Cleveland, on Sunday, July 14.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Kenny Brack , Cristiano da Matta