Race No. 5

Rio 400
Emerson Fittipaldi Speedway — Rio de Janiero, Brazil
May 9-11, 1997

Saturday Quotes from drivers and managers at Rio:
Index of Quotes available


Tracy PictMarlboro
Penske Mercedes
"We're pretty happy with our qualifying time [fifth on the grid]. We've definitely improved the car from yesterday and were able to run the quickest time we've run all weekend. We're still chasing the same amount of understeer in Turn 4 and we're down a bit on straightaway speed. But we've got tomorrow morning's warm-up session to fine-tune the race set-up on the Marlboro car and we should be looking good for the race."

Andretti PictKmart/Texaco/Havoline
Swift Ford Cosworth XD
"The car was okay. To be honest, I qualified about where I expected too. For some reason, lately I've been able to set the car up for the race but not for qualifying. The race pays more points than qualifying so I guess it's okay. I'd still like to score a pole. Sixth should be all right for the race. We won from 14th place at Homestead so we'll just have to wait and see what the race brings us. It should definitely be an interesting race."

Johnstone PictTeam Kool Green
Reynard Honda

"We did what we could with what we had today. I did a real tank-slapper in Turn 4 on my second lap, the car got way loose on me. Like Nazareth, we changed the car totally from this morning and we missed the balance a little bit. But we're learning all the time."

"I made sure to have a good, clean first lap. I was real careful onthe throttle all the way around on both laps. On the second lap, my entry into Turn Four was clean right down intothe apex. I picked my line, then on the exit I rolled on the throttle, but the car went out from me and I did abig tankslapper there at the end. I think you could say that slowed me down. "We changed the car totally from this morning to qualify. We missedthe balance a bit this morning, and we've been sorting that out since then. We made some pretty big changesat the end of the session, and I think if we'd had just two extra laps to balance the car, we would've felt bettergoing into qualifying."

[On the team's decision to get crew cuts resembling Team KOOL Greencrew chief Tony Cotman if they earn a podium finish here this weekend]: "That's pretty awesome motivation - more than motivation. We couldstill be bald on Monday, but starting 14th makes it a bit tougher."

Unser PictMarlboro
Penske Mercedes
"My starting position [ninth] for tomorrow isn't too bad. I would have liked to have qualified in either the first or second row, but we knew that was going to be tough to do in light of how competitive everyone is. The good news is that we went quicker in qualifying [39.540 sec.] than we have all weekend. Last year, we had our best finishing result [second-place] of the season here so we're hoping to improve our position by one spot tomorrow which would put Marlboro Team Penske at the top of the podium."

Pruett PictBrahma Sports Team
Reynard Ford
"We're pleased with the time considering some of our setbacks this weekend. The weather change made a pretty big difference, but we thought it would get hotter and compensated for it a little bit, but lost a little bit of grip and I got loose in [Turn] 1. Firestone has a good tire and the Ford engine is a heck of a lot better here than it was last year. Ford has worked hard to improve for horsepower tracks like this and it shows. It's really paying off now on the straightaways."

Hearn PictRalphs/Food 4 Less
Della Penna Racing
Lola Ford
"The weather is a bit hotter and the track a bit slicker. I didn't stick my neck out in qualifying. I could have been more aggressive with the front downforce, but my focus is to be in the show unless I have a real burner. I used to be big into pushing the qualifying, but I'm changing a little I guess. I'd rather win races than qualifying heats. They don't pay nothing for qualifying. But our tires are coming in great, and the engine has run really well all weekend. We haven't had any problems. I really think we can make some noise here tomorrow."

Pupo PictKmart/Budweiser
Swift Ford
Newman/Haas Racing
"Every time I go out in the car I feel more comfortable. My last pole was in 1987 in Formula 3000 and Mauricio was second to me. We reversed the order and he won. I hope the same thing happens tomorrow. It is a fantastic feeling to do this well. The pole would have been great but a front row is still fantastic. This has all happened so fast. Unfortunately Christian got hurt but fortunately he'll be back soon. It's a great opportunity for me to replace him. I'm surprised that I adapted so quickly without any testing. The Kmart/Budweiser team has done such a great job to teach me so much in such a short time. The Swift is not fully developed yet since the team did not get to do much testing before the season. The car has potential that hasn't been fully developed. I always push as hard as possible. Both to get a ride and also to perform once I have a ride. After I set the fastest time, I had to have a moment for myself in the car. It was so fantastic to see the crowd cheer for me. I'm happy for Mo. He did a great job. It's incredible to have an all-Brazilian front row for our home race."

Salles PictPennzoil Special
Reynard Ford
Davis/Craig Racing
"On our second lap I really went for it, but the car went loose through Turn 1. Still, we picked up another half-second over this morning's time and we ran our best lap of the weekend. We were real unfortunate with the engine failure, but the Davis racing crew did a terrific job to make the second car a great car. We are on the right track now; we keep improving every weekend."

Carpentier PictBettenhaused Racing
Alumax Aluminium
Reynard Mercedes-Benz
"After doing so well in the practice session this morning [third overall], we are obviously disappointed with our qualifying time. The car was pretty good on the qualifying run. Our exit speed was good and the front grip was better in qualifying than it was in the morning practice. But for some reason, it just didn't pull on the straightaway. I'm not sure what it was-it could have been a valve or something."

Boesel PictBrahma Sports Team
Ford Cosworth
"The car was too nervous. We kept chasing the car from this morning on. We didn't have a good setup from the start today. Yesterday was pretty good, but we made some changes and the car is not very comfortable right now. The track was a little slower. There is a definite improvement in power with the Ford engine from last year. We are comparable with the other teams. We just need to improve our setup."

Jasper PictHype
Lola Ford Cosworth
"We have an overriding problem in that something is making the exhaust work too hard which may be causing us to get zero power out of sixth gear. When you look at my graphs, you can see it flatline between those gears, while (teammate) Michel's (Jourdain) keeps climbing. Obviously it becomes hard to run competitively in that situation. Combined with solving our boost problems, we now have to try and correct the car's setup for what speed we do have. We have some work to do before the race."

Papis PictMCI
Arciero Wells
Reynard Toyota
"Qualifying was a good performance for us because it showed an improvement, it was the best lap time we ever did here. Unfortunately, we did not have a lot of time to work on the new tires. I think we could have worked it out a little bit better, but that would have only given us one or two more tenths. We still have a way to go and I hope this is an encouraging result for Toyota to continue working on the engine.

"For sure this (the new Toyota RV8B) is pushing the MCI Racing team as well as PJ and Juan to be better because they now have the same car and the same engine. At the moment though, we are working very close together to try to improve the Toyota to make it become a front runner. When we get to that point then there will be very tough competition."

Ribeiro PictLCI International
Lola Honda
Tasman Motorsports Group
"There's really not a lot to say. The car is still the same this morning and we're running in about the same position."

Fernandez PictTecate Beer/Quaker State
Lola Honda
Tasman Motorsports Group
"This morning the car was much more balanced, but it developed a push/loose situation in qualifying. I had a 'big moment' in Turn 1 on my first lap and then I just concentrated on making a smooth, safe run."

de Ferran PictValvoline/Cummins/Craftsman Special
Reynard Ford
"I'm very optimistic for a good performance in the race, the car has been solid all weekend. Going into the qualifying session it was hard to say how it would turn out. The track was a lot hotter than this morning and any time you are the first one out it always adds a little extra suspense. During the run the car was sliding a lot more than it was this morning, mostly in Turn 1 and Turn 4."

Hiro PictPanasonic/DUSKIN
Arciero/Wells Racing, Reynard Toyota
"After changing motors and adjusting for the warmer track, I'm happy that we picked up another half second in qualifying. Our understeer moved from the entry of the turn to the end, which was the first time here in Rio. The team has been working very well as we keep making good strides every session."

Project Indy
Lola Ford Cosworth
"Unfortunately we were struck with technical problems for the first time. There was a fuel pressure problem and we lost quite a bit of speed. It was actually a good time, considering. We've made some step-by-step improvements. I know that this team can do well, and I intend to help make that happen."

Green PictTeam Kool Green
Team manager
"I'm definitely disappointed with 14th starting position. I'm notquite so worried, though, since starting position here isn't all that important. I mean, 400 kilometers is one longrace, and anything can happen. "We have quite a bit of work to do on the car - the car's stillloose. We need to get a comfortable car for race day, and that's got to be our focus now.

"Looking back, I think this weekend started with a bad qualifyingeffort in Nazareth. That put us in the slower group here, which actually misled us a bit. We were out therecleaning up the track in the first session here rather than getting real good practice time."