Double-whammy for Player’s/Forsythe squad

Friday was a particularly rough day for the Player's/Forsythe team at Motegi as both of the Ford-Cosworth engines in the team's cars failed to last through a two-lap qualifying run on the flat-out Motegi oval

Double-whammy for Player’s/Forsythe squad

Patrick Carpentier was third fastest in the morning practice, and his first qualifying lap was good for 10th on the grid for Saturday's Firestone Firehawk 500. But Patrick's motor went pop about a hundred yards short of the start finish line, forcing the French-Canadian to coast his Reynard into Turn One to wait for a tow-in.

Remarkably, his team mate Alex Tagliani's Ford-Cosworth engine also let go during his second qualifying lap, this time in a spectacular and smoky way exiting Turn Two. A more lengthy clean-up was required before qualifying resumed.

"I knew it was losing power on the first lap, but once you get the green flag for qualifying you have to keep going anyway," said Carpentier, who like his team mate, is still in search of his first 2001 championship point. "It's too bad, because I think the team gave us a car good enough for pole position. We were hoping we could do it, but again we got sidelined by technical problems. It's a shame, because we came here with a car that was fast.

"I asked the guys if they changed anything, perhaps with the radiators that could have caused what happened this afternoon," Carpentier added. "But the car was identical to this morning, and the water temperature was right around 100-degrees. The temperature was perfectly fine, and that Ford was so fast this morning that it makes it disappointing."

Tagliani's first lap was good for 19th on the grid, but he never completed the second.

"I knew right away something was wrong when I went out of the pits," Tagliani said. "I could tell there wasn't much power, but what can you do? You never know if it's something you did wrong or just bad luck. We had bad luck all weekend. We had a big gearbox problem on Friday afternoon and didn't do many laps. We improved out car this morning, did a 26.1, and were hoping for a 25.9 in qualifying. It's a big horsepower track, and if the engine goes wrong a little bit, it's over."

Tagliani admitted the slow start to the season for himself and his team mate has been frustrating.

"We don't have any points right now after three races," he said. "I got punted from behind in Long Beach after being quick all weekend long, and we would have been sixth or seventh at Nazareth. I don't know what we need to do. The Player's team is a good team, we had a good car - Pat was strong all weekend long - but we need to pray more or something."

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