Zanardi’s sensational pass won’t happen again
MONTEREY, Calif. (AP) _ The breathtaking pass that Alex Zanardi made on Bryan Herta on the final lap of his victory in the 1996 Texaco-Havoline 300K will not be repeated Sunday.
Officials of the PPG CAR World Series have ``clarified″ a rule barring the use of shortcuts or off-course excursions ``that in the opinion of the chief steward improves a driver’s position during the race.″
Further, the rule states: ``During the race, any advantage or position gained during an off course excursion (four wheels off the racing surface) must be relinquished.″
Anyone violating the rule is subject to ``a black flag penalty or other penalty pursuant to Chapter 10 of the 1997 CART Rule Book.″
The rule was in the books last year when Zanardi drove through the dirt and jumped a curb to get past Herta in the corkscrew turn at Laguna Seca Raceway.
The corkscrew is a blind, downhill s turn at the back of the 2.238-mile road course.
The only penalty specified last year was a black flag, which orders the driver to pit. But you can’t black flag a driver on the final lap.
CART officials said the clarification was made this week in the interest of safety for all the drivers.
``Essentially, we are trying to keep the race on the race track,″ said J. Kirk Russell, vice president of competition for CART.
Wally Dallenbach, the chief steward, who last week fined Zanardi $25,000 for rough driving in the aftermath of an incident at Vancouver with Herta, said, ``There are too many places that a driver can do this type of action and be successful. What we are trying to achieve is to eliminate the potential controversial pass.″
``So we created the rule regarding all four wheels,″ Dallenbach added. ``If we don’t do this, what would stop a driver from attempting a pass in turn two by going into the gravel and coming back on?″
Russell said Zanardi’s pass last year was legal.
``Zanardi passed Herta on the race track and it was his recovery that was off the track,″ Russell said.
``We determined last year that the pass (by Zanardi) was clean,″ Dallenbach said. ``Alex had all four wheels on the pavement when he made the pass. But we also determined that the risk is too high and that is not what we want in our racing.″
SITTING OUT: Patrick Carpentier withdrew Saturday from the Laguna Seca Race.
The rookie from Canada was still experiencing considerable pain from the collarbone he broke two weeks ago in a fall off his bicycle near his Indianapolis home.
Carpentier took part in two days of practice and qualified 22nd Friday in the opening round of time trials for Sunday’s race.
``I am very disappointed to have to miss this race,″ said Carpentier, who also skipped last week’s race in Vancouver. ``I felt I was making progress in my recovery and I felt very encouraged after taking a three-hour endurance test from Dr. Terry Trammell, who did my surgery. Unfortunately, I am in more pain than I anticipated.″
Roberto Moreno, who replaced Carpentier and finished 15th in Vancouver, also will sub for him Sunday.
DUBIOUS HONOR: Gil de Ferran, the only driver with a mathematical chance of catching Zanardi in the PPG Cup championship, has set a record this year that doesn’t give the Brazilian driver great joy.
De Ferran has seven podium (top three) finishes this season without a victory. Previously, Bobby Rahal (1990) and Mario Andretti (1982) had reached the podium six times in a season without winning.
All seven of de Ferran’s top-three finishes have come in the past 10 races.
De Ferran, who owns two career victories, still has Sunday’s race and the season-finale Sept. 28 at Fontana, Calif., in which to reach victory circle.