CHAMPCAR/CART: Toronto: Team Player's Saturday qualifying report

Plenty of fight left in Team Player'S drivers Tagliani and Carpentier despite rough day in Molson Indy Toronto qualifying. Toronto, Ontario, July 6, 2002 In a qualifying session that saw Lola chassis cars sweep the first 10 places on the grid,...

Plenty of fight left in Team Player'S drivers Tagliani and Carpentier despite rough day in Molson Indy Toronto qualifying.

Toronto, Ontario, July 6, 2002 In a qualifying session that saw Lola chassis cars sweep the first 10 places on the grid, Team Player's drivers Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier had to settle for the 11th- and 14th-fastest times in Saturday qualifying and face a stiff challenge in Sunday's Molson Indy Toronto, the first of three Canadian stops on the CART series schedule.

"We were able to improve our time from the first qualifying session but as we saw out there today, the Lolas were definitely faster," said Tagliani, whose quick lap of 58.864 seconds (107.332 mph/172.734 km/h) was about a half-second better than he turned in a day earlier on the 1.755-mile Exhibition Place street course. "It's too bad for the fans who came out in such large numbers to support us and it's too bad for the Team Player's crew that did such a fantastic job, but right now the Player's Reynard is at the limit of what it can do on this street course."

Last year, Tagliani came from fifth place on the starting grid to finish second in the race behind veteran American driver Michael Andretti, who recorded his seventh career win in Toronto after starting 13th on the grid.

"What Michael did last year, going from 13th to 1st, will be hard for any driver to duplicate this year because of the new rules where you have to make mandatory fuel stops," explained Tagliani. "One difference on race day, from the qualifying session, is that we'll have a full load of fuel and, hopefully, that will give the car more grip and traction. My plan is to be aggressive. I pushed to the limit today and I intend to do the same thing tomorrow."

Brazilian Cristiano da Matta, the top point-getter in the CART series, has the pole for the 112-lap race after registering a quick lap of 58.135 seconds (108.678 mph/174.900 km/h). Canadian Paul Tracy will start alongside da Matta, while Brazil's Bruno Junqueira and Kenny Brack of Sweden line up on Row 2.

Carpentier, whose qualifying session today ended after he had put in the ninth of his allotted 15 laps, got over two-tenths of a second more out of the car than he did on Friday, touring the circuit in 59.108 seconds (106.889 mph/172.021 km/h). As the final minutes of the session ticked down, however, Carpentier had to return to the pits because of an electronic problem that caused the car to lose fifth gear.

"I feel badly for the guys on Team Player's who put such a great effort into it, and for the fans who were hoping we would be up at the front of the grid, but these are circumstances that just happen and you can't do anything about it," declared Carpentier, whose best career finish in Toronto is seventh. "I'm disappointed and upset and I'm sure I'll still be mad when I get to the track tomorrow. But in the past, when I've been mad, I've ended up having some very productive races. Team Player's has been good with its race strategy, and hopefully it will work out that way tomorrow."

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at Molson Indy Toronto by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live on the Global network starting at 1:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Kenny Brack , Cristiano da Matta