Race: De Ferran seals title
|Sunday, October 28th 2001, 06:20 GMT|
Cristiano da Matta won the Surfers' Paradise round of the FedEx Champ Car series but his second win of the season was overshadowed by Gil de Ferran, who retained his CART title with a measured, if not altogether problem-free, drive (for full race results, click HERE.).
Another Brazilian, Roberto Moreno, came within 20 laps of victory in his Patrick Racing Reynard-Toyota and held a 6sec lead when he lost second gear. Despite soldiering on, he eventually lost oil pressure and was forced out 10 laps later. Da Matta took his chance to grab the top spot, and cruised to a dominant victory - his first since the opening round of the season.
"It was our race today," said da Matta. "I didn't have much pressure after I got the lead."
De Ferran, who ran near the front for much of the day and led early on, became bottled up behind the slowing Moreno, causing a scary moment for the champion elect as Alex Tagliani briefly touched wheels with him as he attempted to pass. Gil then wisely backed off, allowing Tagliani and Paul Tracy past, meaning he was now just one spot ahead of title rival Kenny Brack, whom he had to finish ahead of to wrap up the title.
Brack just couldn't keep up with de Ferran's pace in the closing stages, and fourth place was more than enough for Gil to score his second successive CART title for Penske Racing: "I'm so happy, all my dreams have come true," he said tearfully afterwards.
De Ferran's other title challenger, team mate Helio Castroneves, slid off the track a couple of times and finished a lap down.
Michael Andretti finished the race in a solid second place ahead of Tagliani, while Tracy's engine exploded within sight of the chequered flag, losing him a well-deserved fourth place.
For full championship standings click here.