CHAMPCAR/CART: Vancouver: Player's Saturday qualifying report

Fast pace by Team Player's Alex Tagliani isn't quite Eough to slow Lola chassis dominance in Molson Indy Vancouver qualifying. Vancouver, British Columbia, July 27, 2002 Alex Tagliani actually recorded a faster lap in Saturday's Molson Indy ...

Fast pace by Team Player's Alex Tagliani isn't quite Eough to slow Lola chassis dominance in Molson Indy Vancouver qualifying.

Vancouver, British Columbia, July 27, 2002 Alex Tagliani actually recorded a faster lap in Saturday's Molson Indy Vancouver qualifying than his pole-winning time of a year ago, but in this year's fast-paced session the Team Player's driver had to settle for eighth place on the starting grid for Sunday's 100-lap race.

Tagliani's teammate Patrick Carpentier, who had to resort to the Team Player's back-up car after damaging the tub of the primary car in the morning practice session, struggled through the qualifying session and will start from Row 8 in the 10th race of the CART season.

Lola-chassis cars swept the first seven positions on the starting grid and had 12 of the 13 best times. Brazilian Cristiano da Matta, the series leader in the drivers' standings, earned his fifth pole of the season, while Canadian Paul Tracy, who won the provisional pole on Friday, will start alongside him and Tracy's teammate Dario Franchitti of Scotland and New Zealand's Scott Dixon are on Row 2.

"Team Player's has improved the car a lot over last year but the Lola chassis was really dominant today on this track," said Tagliani. "The Lola rides a little lower and consequently it gets more downforce. You need a fast car to win here in Vancouver and the Lolas are the fastest ones out there right now. That doesn't necessarily mean the same thing will happen on race day because we've seen in the past that anything can happen."

Tagliani, who toured the circuit in one minute, 0.869 seconds (105.334 mph / 169.519 km/h) acknowledged that passing opportunities are at a premium on the narrow, 12-turn, 1.781-mile temporary street course at False Creek but "even starting from eighth, I'm aiming for the podium because it can still be done. My race strategy is to be aggressive at the start and try to gain a few positions as early as I can. After that, hopefully, we can make up more ground during pits stops because the Team Player's crew has consistently done some great work in the pits."

Carpentier said his brush with the wall in the practice session was the result of going too deep in turn 2. As he tried to come out of the corner, the rear end of the car got away from him and he clipped the wall, damaging the front of the tub to an extent that the back-up car was required.

"The back-up car is a different animal," explained Carpentier. "It's tough to just jump into the back-up and expect it to be exactly the same as the primary. It took everything I had to squeeze a 1:01.4 seconds out of it and I wasn't able to do that until my last lap. The car was difficult to handle. But the way I look at it, with the exception of what happened in morning practice, our primary car here was good because we've been in the top 10 all weekend."

Carpentier will have to use the backup for Sunday's race, and although he has a steep mountain to climb to get into contention, his confidence has not been shaken. "Definitely, our race strategy will have to be a bit different," stated Carpentier, who recorded his first win of the 2002 CART season in Cleveland two weeks ago. "We have to hope that our pit-stop strategy works in our favour and we have good timing if there are yellows. We've got nothing to lose by going for it."

Racing fans can follow Team Player's progress at Molson Indy Vancouver throughout the weekend by logging on to the team's website at www.teamplayers.ca. They can also watch the race live the Global network starting at 4:30 p.m. ET on Sunday.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Scott Dixon , Cristiano da Matta