Darren Manning column

Briton Darren Manning headed into the second round of the Champ Car World Series in Monterrey looking to score his first points of the year following his retirement in St. Petersburg. Whilst the rookie did manage to score on the slippery Mexican track, his race wasn't without its share of incident and drama

Darren Manning column

We came out of Monterrey with a few battle scars on the car. We broke the front wing, there were tyre marks all the way down the bodywork and probably on my helmet as well. But we finished the race and got some points, and that's the main thing.

Straight out of the pits in qualifying I did a 1m16.9s lap, which was three-tenths faster than the overnight pole time. The tyre pressures were coming in, I had no traffic and I was just over half a second up through Turn 7 on the next lap. I reckon that would have been a low 16 - in fact, I'm pretty sure I could have done a 15.5, because the track was just getting better and better, but then I lost third gear. It could have been a symptom of the circuit, because there's a lot of wheel-spinning and kerb jumping. It's too bad because I think we would have qualified in the top five.

The track was a bit like glass at first - like being on a wet track on slick tyres - and in the race I found out how slippery it gets off line. At the start I went up the outside of quite a few guys and I think I got tagged a little bit at the first turn and got pushed onto the grass, but I made up a few spots.

The pace of the car was really good and the pit-stops were fine. About two-thirds of the way into the race, I think I was a little bit quicker than Bruno Junqueira and I got a run on him, but when I tried to turn it just didn't go and I slid off on the marbles, and Jimmy Vasser got past. A few laps later, Mario Dominguez came up the inside and we both gave each other room, but there's no grip at all off line and I think he just got a load of understeer and came into me.

Then I tapped Vasser at the end. He got held up at the chicane so I got a run, but I locked up - he came in and we just touched. An adventurous day, then, but given all that happened, I can't complain about seventh.

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