PacWest drivers Mark Blundell and Mauricio Gugelmin will start 23rd and 21st respectively in tomorrow's CART Rio 200.

Both drivers struggled with car set-up in this afternoon's qualifying session for the fourth round of the Champcar series, and face a tough day ahead in tomorrow's 108-lap race.

Blundell's Motorola Reynard-Mercedes could only manage a time of 39.542secs in the morning practice session, and was slower again in qualifying by a perplexing 0.532secs.

''We went half a second faster this morning on old tires and everything was completely wrong in qualifying,'' said a disappointed Bundell, ''I believe I am committed in the car, but we just can't get it right - I cannot tell you how frustrating this is.

''It is a long day tomorrow and we will be relying on our Mercedes-Benz engine to keep us going until the chequer. Engine reliability is one thing we have on our side - we just need to find a few more things to go with it.''

Team-mate Gugelmin was faster in qualifying than he had been in morning practice, but the Brazilian native was far from producing the sort of result which gave him pole in front of a home crowd back in 1997.

''It's no good,'' Gugelmin sighed, ''Basically the car had the same balance as it has had all weekend and it is no good. I had a big push in the middle of the corners and a big oversteer on each end and I am struggling to get rid of that.

''I couldn't get the car to flow. I can't go hard into the corners because I cannot keep the momentum and, at this track it is all about how quickly you can get back on the gas to maintain straight-line speed. We just have to keep working at it and try to make our way through the field tomorrow.''

Rookie Alex Tagliani will start from pole after recording a lap of 38.587secs, followed by Juan Montoya (38.696secs) and Paul Tracy (38.843secs).


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