CHAMPCAR/CART: Vancouver Friday Mercedes Notes

Mercedes-Benz driver and hometown favorite Greg Moore drove his Player's/Forsythe Mercedes third quickest during Friday's provisional qualifying for Sunday's Molson Indy Vancouver. The British Columbia, Canada, native was less than four...

Mercedes-Benz driver and hometown favorite Greg Moore drove his Player's/Forsythe Mercedes third quickest during Friday's provisional qualifying for Sunday's Molson Indy Vancouver. The British Columbia, Canada, native was less than four tenths of a second off the pace set by defending race winner Dario Franchitti. PacWest Mercedes drivers Mark Blundell and Mauricio Gugelmin were sixth and seventh quickest, respectively, on the newly configured 1.781-mile temporary street circuit.

Responding to concerns about safety, CART revamped the Concord Pacific Place circuit. The final turn was widened, as was the entrance to pit lane, while the chicane on the back straight was removed. Moore's Mercedes-powered Player's/Forsythe Champ Car covered the distance in 61.716 seconds (103.889 mph), bowing to Franchitti's time of 61.343 seconds (104.520 mph). Blundell lapped the Concord Pacific Place circuit in 61.901 seconds (103.578 mph), pipping Gugelmin's quick lap of 61.924 seconds (103.540 mph). Player's/Forsythe pilot Patrick Carpentier posted a qualifying lap of 62.834 seconds (102.040 mph) to earn 15th position on the provisional grid. Marlboro Team Penske driver Al Unser Jr., who finished in the top five in all nine Vancouver starts -- including four wins -- lapped the circuit in 63.315 seconds (101.265 mph). Hogan Racing Mercedes teammates Helio Castro-Neves and Luiz Garcia Jr. qualified 24th and 26th, respectively. Castro-Neves' quickest lap was 63.563 seconds (100.870 mph), while Garcia Jr.'s lap was clocked in 65.334 seconds (98.136 mph).

Final qualifying will be held Saturday afternoon, and the green flag for the Molson Indy Vancouver will wave Sunday at 1:00 p.m. PT (live, ABC-TV).

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (Third/ 61.716 seconds) "The car has been improved since the morning session, and I am fairly happy with it. We are pretty competitive so far. The new circuit is definitely an improvement. There's no question that the turn at the end of the back straight is dicey, but it will make things more exciting for the drivers and the fans."

Mark Blundell, No. 18, PacWest Motorola Mercedes/Firestone (Sixth/ 61.901 seconds) "We lost some time this morning with a few mechanical problems, but I'm quite happy with the car. The biggest issue we have right now is understeer, and we're working on improving the front-end grip to gain more stability. Unfortunately, we made some gear ratio changes before qualifying that had a bit of a detrimental effect. I had to alter my driving style to accommodate the adjustments. We'll work on that, but overall we have a good baseline for tomorrow."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17, PacWest Hollywood Mercedes/Firestone (Seventh/ 61.924 seconds) "We had a pretty good day all around. We unloaded a car that was fast straight away, and we had no major dramas today. The car has a very good balance, and we're just working on gaining more speed as we improve the mechanical grip. The engineers are doing a great job. We've made consistent progress already. With more rubber on the track tomorrow, I'm sure that the times will improve."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Forsythe Mercedes/Firestone (15th/ 62.834 seconds) "In the morning, I just locked the rear wheels and hit the wall. I'm just a little bruised, but okay. The afternoon session was a little disappointing. We had the mechanical problem and had to switch cars just before the end of the session. We didn't get much of a chance to make adjustments and get a good time. I expect the team will improve the car for Saturday, and we will be quicker tomorrow."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Greg Moore , Luiz Garcia
Teams Team Penske