CHAMPCAR/CART: Vancouver Mercedes Friday Report

British Columbia native and hometown favorite Greg Moore led the Mercedes-Benz CART contingent during first day of the Molson Indy Vancouver. Moore, who consulted on the design of the newly reconfigured 1.802-mile street circuit at Concord ...

British Columbia native and hometown favorite Greg Moore led the Mercedes-Benz CART contingent during first day of the Molson Indy Vancouver. Moore, who consulted on the design of the newly reconfigured 1.802-mile street circuit at Concord Pacific Place, posted the fifth-fastest time of the afternoon's provisional qualifying session, lapping just over a half-second slower than provisional pole winner Alex Zanardi.

Moore's Player's/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes was the first of four Mercedes-powered entries among the top 10. PacWest Racing teammates Mark Blundell (Motorola Reynard/Mercedes) and Mauricio Gugelmin (Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes) were seventh and eighth fastest, respectively, while Champ Car rookie JJ Lehto was ninth in the Hogan Racing machine.

After posting the fourth-quickest lap time of the morning practice session, rookie Helio Castro-Neves slipped to 15th when setup changes failed to improve the performance of his Alumax Reynard/Mercedes during the afternoon.

Marlboro Team Penske drivers Andre Ribeiro and Al Unser Jr. struggled with handling problems, finishing the session ranked 18th and 23rd. The anti-roll bar adjustment mechanism failed on Patrick Carpentier's Player's/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes, leaving the young Canadian 21st.

Final qualifying is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon. Sunday's 90-lap, 162.18-mile race will start at 1 p.m. local time and will be televised on ESPN starting at 5 p.m. EDT.

Mercedes Quotes

Greg Moore, No. 99, Player's/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Fifth - 65.434 sec.

"It wasn't a bad session. We made some improvements, and I think it's going to get better for tomorrow. We made some changes to the car, and we went the right way, but we didn't go far enough. But that's why we have practice tomorrow. The new track's really good. I enjoy it. You can pass going into turn one and at the end of the back straight. And it's getting better and better as we lay down more and more rubber."

Mark Blundell, No. 18 Motorola Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Seventh - 65.637 sec.

"It was a very good session for us. Everything--the chassis, the engine, the tires--all performed very well, and the team did a great job. We made some good improvements, but I got held up on my last lap. I think we would've been in the top six if it hadn't been for that. The balance of the car was much better than it was this morning. We've still got a little bit of a push, but hopefully, we'll continue improving tomorrow."

Mauricio Gugelmin, No. 17 Hollywood Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Eighth - 65.680 sec.

"We made good progress on the handling. This morning we couldn't get the tires to come up to temperature, so we made some changes to the suspension geometry, and it was much better. I just still have some push in the car. We'll see if we can fix that for tomorrow. At least we'll be in the fast group in qualifying tomorrow, so we'll be able to run quick and hopefully avoid being slowed up by traffic."

JJ Lehto, No. 9 Hogan Racing Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: Ninth - 65.686 sec.

"Today was reasonably good, but I had trouble getting a clear lap. We made some changes for the second set of tires and went the wrong way. I had a lot of push and couldn't get the most out of the car. But at least we know the right way to go for tomorrow, and everything seems to be running well. I think we'll find some more time tomorrow."

Helio Castro-Neves, No. 16 Alumax Reynard/Mercedes/Goodyear: 15th - 66.068 sec.

"It was very strange. We ran so well this morning that I expected to do much better this afternoon. I think we made a couple of changes that didn't work. That slowed us up. But we know we have a good car. We just have to see where the speed went."

Andre Ribeiro, No. 3, Marlboro Penske/Mercedes/Goodyear: 18th - 66.239 sec.

"We made a good improvement, but we're still fighting with problems with the car's balance. It was a definite improvement and a good step from this morning to this afternoon. The circuit is very challenging because it is very bumpy in some places, so car control is very important here. Also the grip level is very different from one place to another because of the different surfaces: old asphalt, new asphalt and so on."

Patrick Carpentier, No. 33, Player's/Indeck Reynard/Mercedes/Firestone: 21st - 66.616 sec.

"The front sway bar adjuster broke and the bar went to full stiff, which meant I had a big push. There was nothing I could do."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Al Unser Jr. , Patrick Carpentier , Mauricio Gugelmin , Mark Blundell , Andre Ribeiro , Greg Moore , JJ Lehto
Teams Team Penske