IRL: Motegi: Patrick Carpentier preview

CARPENTIER EAGER TO RUN TO JAPAN AFTER A THREE-YEAR ABSENCE Montreal, Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - Patrick Carpentier has returned this week to Japan, after a three-year absence, to compete this Saturday for the Indy Japan 300. The ...

CARPENTIER EAGER TO RUN TO JAPAN AFTER A THREE-YEAR ABSENCE

Montreal, Tuesday, April 26, 2005 - Patrick Carpentier has returned this week to Japan, after a three-year absence, to compete this Saturday for the Indy Japan 300. The overseas race is Round 4 of the 2005 IRL IndyCar schedule. It will be Carpentier's fifth visit to the Twin Ring Motegi egg-shape oval track. The Canadian native last raced on the 2.414 km (1.5-mile) track in 2002, recording his best-ever finish in Japan.

In each of his three other races in Japan, Carpentier's car suffered multiple mechanical failures. In his first visit in 1998, he retired after 163 laps with a broken wheel bearing. The following year, it was a fuel pressure problem that ended his day after only 10 laps. He missed the 2000 race, because of a broken wrist. Memo Gidley pitched-in for Carpentier that year. Carpentier was running eighth in 2001 when he retired on lap 54 with a broken oil line. Fortunately for the Joliette native, his last race in Japan in 2002 ended on a better note with a fourth place finish, even though he was twice penalized by CART officials with drive through penalties, losing a lap each time.

The Red Bull Cheever Racing driver feels confident that his reversal of fortunes in Japan the last time will continued this weekend. ''I always liked track, even more so now that they have installed the SAFER Barrier,'' Carpentier said before leaving for Japan. ''The track is a little bit tricky because you can't run full throttle all the way around. We have to brake coming into the tight corner three, and according to the engineers and their data, we may even have to downshift one or two gears. This situation should keep us more competitive on this oval. I'm not sure were we will stand in practice and qualifying, but I feel confident for the race.''

In the past few weeks, Red Bull Cheever Racing has upgraded its damper systems on the cars with the addition of the latest Ohlins and Penske's shocks. The team also spent some time on a shaker rig, a vehicle dynamics rig that simulates track conditions, to evaluate springing and damping simulations in order to improve the car performance.

''The team needed to improve the balance on the car if it wants to win some races,'' Carpentier continued. ''Mecachrome came through with the appropriate budget to upgrade them. We have been talking for some times on how this would improve the car's handling and performance. It's piece of the puzzle that is now in place. This will not make us instant winners because most of the front-runners have been using the latest dampers since the start of the season, but it should help us to be more competitive.''

ESPN360 To Offer Fans Live Coverage Of Indy Japan 300

IRL IndyCar Series fans won't have to wait to see the action during the series' only overseas event. ESPN will offer live coverage of the Indy Japan 300 from Twin Ring Motegi through its free broadband outlet, ESPN360. Coverage of the race will begin at 11:59 p.m. ESPN360 is available free through a high-speed data connection on www.espn360.com. Though normally offered only through select high-speed Internet providers, April 27-May 1 is an "All-Access Week" for ESPN360, so all high-speed internet users can watch the Indy Japan 300. The video offered by ESPN360 is encoded at a high bit rate that enables a fast transmission for viewing high-quality video content.

All content is customizable and can be watched in a variety of screen sizes ranging from full-screen to a compact mode that can be viewed on a small portion of the user's screen. For more information on how to obtain ESPN360, go to www.espn360.com.

Energy-Absorbing Wall To Debut Track Indy Japan 300

Twin Ring Motegi has completed installation of 2,275 metres of the revolutionary energy-absorbing SAFER (Steel And Foam Energy Reduction system) Barrier in time for Round four of the IRL IndyCar® Series in Japan. The SAFER Barrier, which consists of rectangular steel tubing backed by polystyrene foam blocks that is installed in front of the track's traditional cement walls, is designed to reduce forces incurred by a car in an accident and increase driver safety. The technology is tailor-made to address each track's design and at Twin Ring Motegi, the barriers are being placed in turns 1 and 2 (782 metres) and in turns 3 and 4 (493 metres). At Twin Ring Motegi, the installation features the same second generation SAFER Barrier which is nearing completion at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Since SAFER's debut in time for the 2002 Indianapolis 500, nearly every major oval racing facility in the United States has installed the system.

Infineon Test Days

The IRL held a two-day test session at Infineon Raceway (formally known as Sears Point) in California April 12 and 13 in preparation for Round 14 to be held on August 28. Carpentier took part in the first day of testing finishing 10th. The following day, he was replaced his teammate Alex Barron. Carpentier's car suffered from lack of grip over the bumps in the rear, but overall the Canadian was pleased with the results of the test.

"We started off decent, and the Red Bull Cheever Racing team made many improvements all day,'' Carpentier said following his day of testing. "We posted our fastest lap on tires that had logged too many laps. I think we could have been even better if the changes had been made about 15 laps earlier on fresh tires."

Two-time Indianapolis 500 champion Helio Castroneves led the opening day of IRL IndyCar® Series testing as the series made its official debut at Infineon Raceway. Andretti Green Racing driver Dario Franchitti saved his best lap for last as he led the final day. In all, 18 car-driver combinations recorded 1,671 laps on the 12-turn, 3.637-mile road course over the two-day period.

Top 10 in the IndyCar Series Point Standings after three races With his second win of the season in St. Petersburg, Dan Wheldon moved back into first place with 134 points, 24 ahead of his Andretti Green teammate Tony Kanaan. Sam Hornish Jr. fell from first to third with 105 points following his on-track retirement. His Penske teammate, Helio Castroneves, who also ended-up with a DNF in the race, is in fourth place with 82 points. Brazilian Vitor Meira is fifth overall with 81 points, followed by Dario Franchitti with 79 points. Darren Manning is tied with Bryan Herta with 74 points apiece while Patrick Carpentier fell two spots down to ninth overall with 72 points. He is followed by his teammate Alex Barron with 61 points.

The 10th season of IndyCar Series competition continues with the Indy Japan 300 on Saturday, April 30 at Twin Ring Motegi. The 200-lap race will be telecast by TSN at 3:30 p.m. (EDT) on Saturday, April 30 (Tape-Delay).

-mdo-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Darren Manning , Helio Castroneves , Memo Gidley , Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Dan Wheldon , Sam Hornish Jr. , Vitor Meira