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Brack's win shadowed by tragedy
A terrible accident mars CART's European debut
17 Sep 2001
By BRUCE NEWTON
KENNY Brack has won CART's tragic European debut race at the EuroSpeedway in Germany and reclaimed the championship lead, but any joy he might have felt was completely overshadowed by Italian Alex Zanardi's horrific late-race accident.
Zanardi, who been involved in a battle for the lead of the American Memorial - renamed from the German 500 in the wake of last week's terrorist attacks - with teammate Tony Kanaan, spun leaving the pits and made heavy contact with Alex Tagliani between turns one and two.
The debris from the accident guaranteed that the race would run under caution to the finish. That ensured that Brack, Team Rahal teammate Max Papis and Tagliani's Player's teammate Patrick Carpentier - who had been conserving fuel in an effort to finish the 500-kilometer race on just three pit stops - were able to maintain their places to the yellow and chequered flags.
Zanardi, 34, from Bologna in Italy, was airlifted to Klinikum Berlin-Marzahn hospital following the accident. He underwent a three-hour procedure that resulted in the amputation of both legs above the knee.
A CT scan of Zanardi's head was normal. He sustained a moderately severe concussion and several small fractures of the pelvis that did not require surgery.
Tagliani escaped serious injuries.
Zanardi had returned to Champ Car competition for Mo Nunn Racing this season following a two-year absence. His three-year career spanning 1996-98 was one of the most spectacular in CART history, including back-to-back championships in 1997 and 1998.
The American Memorial had been one of his strongest runs since returning, and he appeared set to win the race until his tragic mishap.
Brack's win was the fourth in six oval starts this year in the Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola, and propelled the Swedish ace back into the Vanderbilt Cup points lead.
His 131 points put him ahead of Gil de Ferran (eighth in Germany after suffering handling problems) by 11 points, with Michael Andretti another five points in arrears. Helio Castroneves (111 points) rounds out what should be an exciting four-man battle for the CART title.
Brack enjoyed massive support in Germany from his many European fans, but he took little pleasure from the win given news of Zanardi's condition.
"We had a pretty good car all day," Brack said. "We made one less fuel stop than a lot of the guys, and that strategy paid off in the end, obviously. For Team Rahal, it was a needed result in our quest for the championship.
"But it's very unfortunate the incident near the end happened," he added. "So our condolences to all the people who were involved in the incidents in the United States and also to Alessandro."Brack led the first 63 laps before he misjudged a manoeuvre while lapping Bruno Junqueira and nearly spun. But he collected his Shell machine after driving it through the turn one grass and lost only one position - to Carpentier.
The French-Canadian led from lap 64 to 94 until he was passed by practice pacesetter Tony Kanaan. Zanardi soon moved up to make a Mo Nunn Racing one-two, and he and Kanaan waged an intense battle for the lead from lap 124 to lap 141, when Kanaan made his final pit stop.
At that point, the Nunn teammates were seven seconds ahead of Brack and nearly 30 seconds ahead of Carpentier, who was disputing fourth with his teammate Alex Tagliani.
Zanardi's lead over Kanaan had been 0.2 second on the lap before Kanaan pitted for his seven-second splash-and-go. Zanardi pitted a lap later and his Mo Nunn Racing crew produced a stellar 5.5-second stop that should have put the Italian back on track ahead of his stablemate.
1 Kenny Brack (Ford-Cosworth/Lola) 2hr20.940V
2 M Papis (Ford-Cosworth/Lola) +0.154
3 P Carpentier (Ford-Cosworth/Lola) +2.804
4 M Andretti (Honda/Reynard) +4.699
5 O Servia (Ford-Cosworth/Lola) +5.225
6 T Takagi (Toyota/Reynard) +6.410
7 T Kanaan (Honda/Reynard) +6.647
8 G de Ferran (Honda/Reynard) +9.262
9 S Dixon (Toyota/Reynard) +9.893
10 P Tracy (Honda/Reynard) +10.324DRIVERS' CHAMPIONSHIP
1 Brack (SWE) 131
2 De Ferran (BRA) 120
3 Andretti (USA) 115
4 H Castroneves (BRA) 111
5 Dixon (NZ) 86
6 D Franchitti (SCO) 85
7 Carpentier (CAN) 83
8 C Da Matta (BRA) 78
9 R Moreno (BRA) 74
10 Kanaan (BRA) 72MANUFACTURERS' CHAMPIONSHIP
1 Honda 257
2 Toyota 224
3 Ford-Cosworth 222
Next round: Rockingham 500, Rockingham Motor Speedway, UK - September 22
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