|Race 3 of 20 in the 2000 CART season|
|Date||April 30, 2000|
|Location||Autódromo de Jacarepaguá, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil|
|Course||Permanent racing facility|
1.864 mi / 3.000 km
201.312 mi / 323.980 km
|Weather||Hot and sunny|
|Driver||Alex Tagliani (Forsythe Racing)|
|Driver||Alex Tagliani (Forsythe Racing)|
|Time||39.445 (on lap 70 of 108)|
|First||Adrián Fernández (Patrick Racing)|
|Second||Jimmy Vasser (Chip Ganassi Racing)|
|Third||Paul Tracy (Team Green)|
The 2000 Rio 200 was a Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) auto race held at the trapezoid-shaped Autódromo de Jacarepaguá, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on April 30, 2000. It was the third race of the 2000 CART season, the fifth (and last) running of the event, and the first round of the year to be held outside of the United States. The 108-lap race was won by Patrick Racing driver Adrián Fernández after he started from sixteenth. Jimmy Vasser of Chip Ganassi Racing finished second and Team Green's Paul Tracy was third.
Tagliani set the fastest overall lap time in qualifying to start the race from the pole position. He led for a total of 76 laps, more than any other driver. However, Tagliani did not win the event because he lost traction in his car on the 100th lap and a spun in the second corner promoted Fernández to the lead. The race ended under caution and no overtaking was permitted after Tagliani spun for a second time at the end of lap 105. This enabled Fernández to win, his first of the season, and the sixth of his career. There were five cautions and eight lead changes among five different drivers during the course of the event.
The result of the race reduced Tracy's lead the Drivers' Championship to six points over Vasser. Roberto Moreno moved clear of Max Papis in their early season duel for third and Fernández's victory advanced him to fifth place. Ford Cosworth assumed the first position from their nearest rivals Honda in the Manufacturers' Championship, and Toyota and Mercedes-Benz completed the top four with seventeen races left in the season.
The Rio 200 was confirmed as part of CART's 2000 series schedule in November 1999. It was the fifth consecutive year the Rio 200 was part of the series, the first of four straight oval track events, and it was the first round held outside of the United States. The Rio 200 was the third of twenty scheduled races for 2000 by CART, and was held at the 1.864-mile (3.000 km) four-turn Autódromo de Jacarepaguá trapezoid-shaped speedway on April 30. Drivers regarded the Autódromo de Jacarepaguá as "demanding" due to braking and shifting down gears being prioritized for the first and third turns. This led CART to mandate all teams run the high-downforce specification of the Handford MkII wings to attempt to alleviate stress placed on the car's brakes and gearboxes by increasing the amount of drag produced to slow vehicles. Additionally, sand was blown on the track by local wind conditions for most of the year, reducing grip and visibility.
Coming into the race from Long Beach two weeks earlier, Team Green driver Paul Tracy led the Drivers' Championship with 34 points. His nearest rival Jimmy Vasser of Chip Ganassi Racing was eight points adrift in second. Team Rahal's Max Papis and Roberto Moreno for Patrick Racing tied for third with 20 points apiece with the latter given priority in the points standings because of him winning the season-opening round at Homestead–Miami Speedway. Gil de Ferran of Team Penske rounded out the top five with 18 points. In the Manufacturers' Championship, Honda were leading with 38 points, six ahead of the second-placed Ford Cosworth. Toyota stood in third with 26 points and Mercedes-Benz placed fourth with eight points accumulated. Reynard was at the top of the Constructors' Championship with 44 points, followed by Lola and Swift with 26 and 10 points, respectively. In terms of driver changes, Memo Gidley filled in for Patrick Carpentier at Forsythe Racing for the second successive round after Carpentier broke his left wrist at his Las Vegas home prior to Long Beach through losing his balance while carrying a heavy suitcase.
1997 race winner Tracy was circumspect about the prospects but spoke his belief he would keep the championship lead until the season-finale at California Speedway by employing a race-by-race approach: "We're only two races into a very long season, but I've got say that I like the way things have gone so far for the Team KOOL Green crew. Leading the championship makes you think about winning the title, but we know we've got a long way to go to reach that goal." Vasser stated he was comfortable with his new car package and aimed to continue his recent form into the Rio 200: "Obviously, it’s way too early to be looking at the point standings but, as you learn pretty quickly, every point is important." Alex Tagliani aimed to maintain Forsythe Racing's strong form after Tracy's and Greg Moore's success at Rio in the late 1990s and would attempt to use this to maintain the team's strong record at the track, "We’re all pulling in the same direction and I think that spirit of collaboration is evident in the results that we’ve been able to produce so far."
Practice and qualifying
Three practice sessions were held before the Sunday race: two on Friday and one on Saturday. The first session ran for 90 minutes, the second 60 minutes, and the third 75 minutes. Conditions during the Friday practice sessions were hot and sunny. De Ferran set the first practice session's fastest lap at 39.610 seconds, followed by Tagliani, Tracy, Hélio Castroneves, Kenny Bräck, Vasser, Papis, Cristiano da Matta, Moreno, and Christian Fittipaldi. Five yellow flags were waved. The first was for Takuya Kurosawa whose engine failed on the exit of turn four. He turned left to leave the main straight and allow safety officials to extinguish a fire in the engine compartment. The next two cautions were necessitated when Luiz Garcia Jr. and Mark Blundell stalled on the track separately. Both were towed back to pit road by circuit officials. Gualter Salles caused the fourth yellow flag with a heavily crash against the right-hand barrier at the first corner. Salles was not injured but his car sustained heavy damage to its right-side suspension. He stopped in the centre of the circuit in turn two. The last caution was activated for Fittipaldi who stalled on track.
In the second practice session, Juan Pablo Montoya set the day's fastest lap with a time of 38.922 seconds and was the only driver to go below 39 seconds. He was almost three-tenths of a second faster than Bräck in second and Tagliani was third. Fittipaldi, Castroneves, Vasser, Da Matta, Papis, de Ferran, and Michael Andretti were in positions four through ten. The first three cautions came within half an hour of each other because debris and fluids were observed lying on the track and separate track inspections were needed to inspect and clean it. De Ferran caused the fourth caution by spinning in the third turn but avoided car damage. The final caution came out after Maurício Gugelmin spun in turn four and collided against a left-hand tire barrier with the rear of his car. Gugelmin was unhurt.
Conditions remained hot and sunny during Saturday morning's practice session. The first caution came out for debris on the backstraight that needed clearing. Montoya prompted the second caution when he spun 360 degrees in turn four but did not damage his car. Bräck caused a third yellow flag after he stalled on the exit of pit road. Six minutes later, a fourth caution was waved for debris leaving the pit lane that course officials removed. The fifth yellow flags were necessitated after Moreno broke his right-front wheel and wing endplate in a collision with the turn one outside barrier. Bryan Herta stalled on the backstraight and triggered the final caution with 14 minutes to go. Tagliani continued to perform well with the fastest lap of the session at 38.694 seconds. Montoya was one-tenth of a second slower in second, and Tracy replicated his first practice result in third. Bräck, Fittipaldi, Papis, Tony Kanaan, Castroneves, Vasser, and Adrián Fernández completed the top ten ahead of qualifying.
Saturday afternoon's 135 minute qualifying session began with the slowest driver in the weekend's combined practice sessions going out first and the quickest competitor ventured out last. Each driver was restricted to two timed laps and the starting order was determined by the competitor's fastest lap times. One point was awarded to the pole position winner. Tagliani took the first pole position of his career with a lap of 38.587 seconds. He was joined on the grid's front row by Montoya who was 0.109 seconds slower because of an oversteer in the first corner. Tracy's car steeped out of him once he accelerated out of turn one and took third. Bräck was fourth, and the fastest Brazilian was Fittipaldi in fifth. Vasser changed the set-up of his car to go sixth. Castroneves was unhappy with the set-up of his vehicle and took seventh. Dario Franchitti ran slightly wide by driving too fast into turn four on his fastest lap and was eighth. Rounding out the top ten were Kanaan and Papis.
Gidley was the fastest driver not to qualify in the top ten; his fastest time of 39.246 seconds was nearly seven-tenths of a second slower than Tagliani because he had to control his car from spinning going off turn four. Moreno went to his back-up car to suit his driving style and set the 12th-fastest time. A car setup fault restricted De Ferran to 13th. Oriol Servià, Andretti and Fernández qualified in positions 14 to 16. Da Matta (17th) and Norberto Fontana (18th) were required to qualify with a second run after mechanical issues hindered them on their first tyres. 19th and 20th went to Kurosawa and Herta. Gugelmin and his PacWest Racing teammate Blundell had a large amount of push in the centre of the corners and too much oversteer coming out of them left them in 21st and 23rd. The pair were separated by Michel Jourdain Jr. in 22nd after he lost some straight line speed but was faster in the turns despite an oversteer leaving them. Garcia's lack of on-circuit time in his car meant he began from 24th. Salles did not set a lap time because his team continued to repair his car following his first practice session crash. After qualifying, Garcia's best lap time was annulled because his car failed post-race inspection for minimum weight requirements. Garcia was consequently ordered to start from the back of the grid.
A half hour warm-up session was held in hot and sunny weather conditions on the Sunday morning prior to the race. Although de Ferran was suffering from a head cold, he set the fastest lap of the session at 39.289 seconds. Vasser followed just 0.002 seconds slower than de Ferran in second. The third-fastest time was set by Bräck while the fourth position went to the pole position winner Tagliani. The quartet of Brazilians of da Matta. Kanaan, Fittipaldi and Gugelmin filled positions five through eight. The rest of the top ten was completed by Tracy and Montoya. Castroneves caused the session's first caution when he stopped with a faulty transmission between turns one and two. Bräck lost control of his car in the fourth corner, and he slid into a right-hand side tire barrier with his right-front wheel, causing heavy damage to his front wing and suspension.
Weather conditions at the start of the race were dry and sunny. The air temperature throughout the race was between 85–88 °F (29–31 °C) and the track temperature ranged from 112–121 °F (44–49 °C). Two-time Formula One World Champion Emerson Fittipaldi commanded the drivers to start their engines. The race began at 1:37 p.m. BRT (UTC+03:00). Immediately, the first caution of the race was shown because Tagliani moved too far away from Montoya as all other cars went across the start/finish line. Concurrently, Servià lost control of his car leaving turn four, and hit the inside tire barrier at the start of the main straightaway, retiring instantly. Green flag racing got under way on the fifth lap with Tagliani leading Montoya and Tracy. 17 laps later, Bräck steered left to pass Tracy for third position at turn three. However, he could not retain the position as Tracy retook the place at the next corner, but Bräck made his original manoeuvre stick on the main straightaway. Fontana was deemed by race control to have overtaken Fernández before the start/finish line on the lap five start. He was given a black flag on lap 17 which ordered him to serve a drive-through penalty. On the 23rd lap, Castroneves retired in the pit lane because of a gearbox problem that rendered him unable to downshift.
Montoya retired with a broken shifter cable on lap 30. Green flag pit stops for fuel and tires began on lap 33, when Tagliani and Bräck entered pit road, handing the lead to Tracy. Vasser assumed the lead when Tracy made his pit stop four laps later. Franchitti damaged his car when he slid backwards into the pit wall, and sustained light damage to the right-front wing endplate. Fernández led on laps 38 and 39 before he entered pit road for his first stop. After the pit stops, Tagliani retook the lead. On lap 55, Herta stalled at the bottom of the track between the first and second turns, prompting the second caution. Herta retired when he could not restart his car. All of the cars on the lead lap except for Tagliani made pit stops under caution. Racing was due to continue on lap 60, but the yellow flags were again needed when Garcia delayed the field, enabling Tagliani to get too far away from all other drivers. The race recommenced on the next lap with Tagliani holding first position. On lap 63, ninth-placed Papis cut a tire from contact with another car. He went a lap down during a pit stop for a replacement wheel. Kanaan retired with a mechanical problem six laps later. Andretti took the lead when Tagliani made his pit stop on the 75th lap.
Brack took the lead when Andretti entered pit road two laps later. At Andretti's pit stop, crew members Todd Tice and John Littlefield were moving way from the side of his car when Andretti had been instructed to leave his pit stall. This meant the fuelling vent hose Tice attempted to detach was pulled from his grip, and he jumped after it, only to became entangled in Andretti's right-rear wheel. His right ankle and leg were broken. Tice was evaluated on the scene by CART physician Terry Trammell, and was flown to Indianapolis on 1 May for further surgery. Littlefield was not seriously injured as he only sustained bruising to his left leg. Andretti was penalized for the incident; he incurred a drive-through penalty which he took on the 81st lap. Ten laps later, Bräck's lead of 9.144 seconds was reduced to nothing when the third caution came out for Jourdain who stalled at the bottom of turn two. Jourdain had assistance from course officials in restarting his car. During the caution, several drivers, including Bräck, made pit stops for tires and fuel. Tagliani chose not to make a pit stop, and he led the field back up to speed at the restart on lap 98.
Two laps later, the fourth caution was given. Tagliani lost traction in his car in turn one and spun at the next corner. Franchitti and Andretti scrambled for space to avoid a collision with Tagliani's car only for them to make contact with each other. Although all three drivers, flat-spotted their tires, they elected not to enter the pit lane for new tires or repairs, as safety workers cleared debris on the track. The green flag was waved on lap 105, but it was immediately replaced when Tagliani spun for a second time going into turn four because of heavy wear on his rear tires and stalled. This ended the race under caution, and no overtaking was permitted. It gave Fernández his first victory of the season, and the sixth of his career. Vasser followed 0.931 seconds later in second, and Tracy completed the podium in third. Off the podium, the Brazilian trio of da Matta, Fittipaldi, Moreno were fourth to sixth. Blundell, Gidley, Andretti, and Bräck, Franchitti and Garcia were the final finishers. There were eight lead changes among five drivers during the course of the race. Tagliani's 76 laps led was the most of any driver. Fernández led twice for a total of 11 laps.
The top three drivers appeared on the podium to collect their trophies and appeared later at a press conference. Fernández said his victory was important since he had not finished a race until that point in the season, "But we kept working on the car, and tried a new set-up for the warm-up. That was pretty good, and it gave me some ideas on some changes to make during the race. I passed some cars early on, but then I got stuck – not stuck, really, but I got behind Cristiano da Matta, who was going very fast, and I couldn't get past him. I was getting frustrated, but in these races you have to be patient and try to think ahead." Vasser said he observed Tagliani spinning in front of him and he chose to swerve right to avoid a collision, "It was basically a 50-50 chance. It was more luck than anything." Third placed Tracy stated his car was running with more downforce than he desired, "I thought the field would be closer than it was but Juan and Alex just took off and I was slower down the straight. But the car was good by the end of the race. I was able to get by traffic and caught up to Jimmy and Adrian and I was really happy with the job the team did."
Tagliani spoke of his race as a positive rather than a negative after he lost the opportunity to claim his first victory, "I'm very proud of my race, except for my mistake. Until then, it had been a perfect weekend for Player's/Forsythe Racing, and I feel very, very bad for my guys.", and, "I was trying very hard to stay up front, and I tried a little too hard. I ran up into the marbles and tried to bring it back down into a spin, but I didn't make it. I'm very sad in my heart." Twelve days after the race, CART chief steward Kirk Russell annulled four of the points Andretti scored and ordered him to pay his ninth-place prize money earnings of $17,500 back to the series. This was for Andretti transgressing Rule 6.7.26 of the CART Rule Book, which states, "Unsafe acts will be penalized." after the injuries sustained by Tice and Littlefield during his second pit stop. Russell stated that Andretti would not be disqualified and there would be no redistribution of his points and prize money, "Given the nature and severity of the incident, we would have excluded the no. 6 car from the remainder of the event. However, the information available at the time of the event did not support the action. We have to make call based on the best information at the time."
The result reduced Tracy's lead in the Drivers' Championship to six points over Vasser. Moreno moved clear of Papis in the early battle for third position, and Fernández's victory advanced him to fifth. Ford Cosworth assumed the Manufacturers' Championship lead with 54 points. Honda fell to second with two less points, Toyota were another ten points adrift in third, Mercedes-Benz were still fourth. In the Constructors' Championship, Reynard's 66 points accumulated meant they continued to top the standings with Lola another twenty points behind in second. Swift maintained its hold on third with seventeen races left in the season. This was the last race to be held in Rio as the planned race for the 2001 season was canceled when the Rio municipal government missed a deadline for guaranteeing payment of sanctioning fees, and failed to grant race promoter Emerson Fittipaldi access to the facility so he could begin to prepare for the race.
|1||33||Alex Tagliani||Forsythe Racing||38.587||173.903||—|
|2||1||Juan Pablo Montoya||Chip Ganassi Racing||38.696||173.403||+0.109|
|3||26||Paul Tracy||Team Green||38.843||172.757||+0.256|
|4||8||Kenny Bräck||Team Rahal||38.876||172.610||+0.289|
|5||11||Christian Fittipaldi||Newman/Haas Racing||38.879||172.597||+0.292|
|6||12||Jimmy Vasser||Chip Ganassi Racing||38.943||172.313||+0.356|
|7||3||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||38.985||172.128||+0.396|
|8||27||Dario Franchitti||Team Green||39.026||171.947||+0.439|
|9||55||Tony Kanaan||Mo Nunn Racing||39.101||171.617||+0.514|
|10||7||Max Papis||Team Rahal||39.227||171.066||+0.640|
|11||32||Memo Gidley||Forsythe Racing||39.246||170.983||+0.659|
|12||20||Roberto Moreno||Patrick Racing||39.265||170.900||+0.678|
|13||2||Gil de Ferran||Team Penske||39.298||170.757||+0.711|
|14||96||Oriol Servià||PPI Motorsports||39.306||170.722||+0.719|
|15||6||Michael Andretti||Newman/Haas Racing||39.340||170.574||+0.753|
|16||40||Adrián Fernández||Patrick Racing||39.391||170.354||+0.804|
|17||97||Cristiano da Matta||PPI Motorsports||39.419||170.233||+0.832|
|18||10||Norberto Fontana||Della Penna Motorsports||39.504||169.866||+0.917|
|19||19||Takuya Kurosawa||Dale Coyne Racing||39.590||169.497||+1.003|
|20||5||Bryan Herta||Walker Motorsport||39.620||169.369||+1.033|
|21||17||Maurício Gugelmin||PacWest Racing||39.682||169.104||+1.095|
|22||16||Michel Jourdain Jr.||Bettenhausen Racing||39.856||168.366||+1.269|
|23||18||Mark Blundell||PacWest Racing||40.073||167.454||+1.486|
|24||34||Gualter Salles||Dale Coyne Racing||No time||No speed||—|
|25||25||Luiz Garcia Jr.||Arciero Racing||No time||No speed||—1|
- ^1 — Luiz Garcia Jr. was sent to the rear of the field for failing a post-qualifying weight check.
Standings after the race
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for the drivers' standings.
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2000 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
|CART Indycar World Series
2000 Firestone Firehawk 500
1999 Rio 200
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