Join Date: Mar 2002
Newbury Park, CA, United States
Saturday in Elkhart Lake
Some drops on what happened in Elkhart Lake today:
- Junqueira's pole position was well deserved. He has been right on the spot the whole weekend, and his fastest lap today was more than half a second faster than the second best time of the session, set by Tagliani. Junqueira and da Matta look like they will have a race of their own tomorrow - everything is set for a repetition of Portland results, with Da Matta in first and Junqueira in second place. Will we see this same movie again?
- Junqueira crashed his car on his last lap today when Shinji Nakano locked his brakes and run wide at Canada Corner. He then came back across the track, at slow speed. Bruno had nowehere to go, spun, hit the inside tire barrier on the climb from Canada corner and spun back to the middle of the track. Oddly, Bruno was going even faster in this lap than in the one that put him on pole! Who knows how low he could have set the pole position...
- talking about Tagliani, he was very impressive, extremely fast on the straight - maybe the fastest car at top speed (visually it seemed to be, next time I shall bring a radar gun and check it out...).
- another driver with an excellent Saturday was Paul Tracy. Braking late and cornering precisely, he put eleven cars between him and his team mate Dario Franchitti.
- Da Matta, who perfectly timed his outing at yesterday's qualifying session, got it all wrong today. He hit traffic (Fernández, Dixon and even his team mate Fittipaldi) in all his tries, and was caught out cold by Junqueira's crash, that happened when he was in his final fast lap. Da Matta scored "only" the sixth time today, and will share the first row with Bruno Junqueira by means of his Friday exploits.
- years ago I would be taken away by the courage of a driver jumping into a race car with a cracked pelvis, having hopping to it with the use of crutches. But I was in Fontana the day Greg Moore was killed - driving with broken fingers as a consequence of a moped accident suffered two days before - and it was uneasy to see Fernández apparently enduring even more pain today than yesterday to get the job done. Fernández was nevertheless able to put the car in the eight slot of the grid. Will he be able to race all the way?
- Scott Dixon had a huge moment in the Kink during qualifying. He came in on a tight line, the car got upset and he was very skilled to avoid what would have been a major shunt.
- for those not that have never been to Elkhart Lake and wonder why the Kink minimal run-off area is not increased, the reason is that the track is at this point almost tangential to the limit of the property, that runs parallel to a country road. There is not a lot of real estate there to make room for a large gravel trap. Additionally, the terrain beyond that unforgiving concrete wall slopes down from the track level, so major earth-moving works would also be required.
- Jerez is a possible location for the still open slot on CART calendar on April 27th 2003.
- Jordi: I foresee that Oriol is going to put a good show tomorrow. He is driving very smoothly, and it looks like he found a good set-up - it remains to be seen if it also works with full tanks. Oriol is also looking very focused - obviously he has his mind set on a full-time drive for 2003.
- And Oriol can concentrate in doing his job without major hassles, as very few people will bother him. By all accounts, he is the least known CART driver today. Without his overalls, he could have lunch in one of the concession stand tables and he would not be approached by anyone - well, maybe someone would ask him to pass the salt on.
- Tora Takagi had a "chic" out at Turn 8 in the morning practice session. He outbraked himself and slid to the grass at the exit, managing to avoid the deep gravel trap. But as the grass was wet, he started to spin. He very carefully counter-steered and the car crawled sideways as a crab for more than fifty meters, and then rejoined the track at a perfect angle. The public applauded the display, and asked for more.
- poor Kanaan. The guy is trying everything, but his stream of bad luck seems endless. After yesterday's crash, when the rear wing of his Lola fell off and he had a very scary moment at the end of the main straight, he switched to the reserve car - and the turbo failed miserably on this one. Result: no qualifying lap. Today, it was just the same - no qualifying lap again! On his fast lap the engine blew. As the session was red-flagged, he had (as per CART rules) to discard his fastest lap - which was the launching lap... The engine just went boom, without any warning. He then switch to the second chassis, but then it was time for the fuel pump to refuse to work...
- Team Rahal is also having a very troublesome weekend. Vasser's and Jourdain's Lolas are simply nowhere, the cars unable to transfer power to the ground, especially out of turns. Traction control problems reported.
- Canadian media considers that the rumours that Players will stop sponsoring Forsythe at the end of the year are "a fact".
- in their search for more high-end speed - a fundamental requirement in Elkhart Lake - some drivers went for rather unexpected gearbox ratios. Carpentier and Michael Andretti opted for a slightly than usual fourth, followed by a longer fifth. Fernández used a shorter third, but the fourth sounded the same as most of the drivers.
- Ok, this is not completely new, but... Shinji Nakano is going to the IRL next year - I talked to a Japanese media guy who knows Shinji very well -, and the official announcement is going to be made soon. This will not be publicly disclosed until the name of the team that he will drive for is defined. Fernández Racing is, as speculated by some Ten Tenths members, Nakano's most likely berth in 2003.
- to those that are at the track this weekend, I would like to report poison ivy at the braking area for Turn 1 (outside of the track line) and at the braking area for Canada Corner (inside the track line). And I saw a more-than-meter-long green snake between Turns 11A and 11B. I am not sure whether the snake is still there, but the poison ivy has not moved since this morning.
- I am still licking the last remains of the delicious, countless bratwurst-with-sauerkraut-and-mustard I had today.
Battered, tired and filthy to the bone, but quite happy to be here,