CHAMPCAR/CART: Bourdais slams home record in Spring Training

The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford completed its pre-season practice session today with day two of Spring Training on the famed Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey California. Three-time defending champion Sebastien Bourdais led a ...

The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford completed its pre-season practice session today with day two of Spring Training on the famed Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey California.

Three-time defending champion Sebastien Bourdais led a contingent of eleven drivers under the lap record. Bourdais' fastest lap of 1:05.880 (122.295 mph) was nearly four miles per hour faster than the existing speed.His time on Friday placed him second quickest.

"If we hadn't had the red flags we could have done it earlier for sure", Bourdais said referring to the unofficial mark.In the afternoon I was concerned that the track would get too hot, but it worked all worked out."

Sophomore driver Will Power of Australia turned in the second fastest time of the weekend at 1:06.424 (121.294 mph), and rookie Neel Jani brought home third best with a 1:06.516 (121.126 mph).

Helio Castroneves' track record of 1:07.722 (118.969 mph), established during Champ Car during qualifying in 2000 has stood for over six years.The time set today by Bourdais is not an official record because track records are only set during an official qualifying lap, qualifying session or during a race.

Champ Car officials opened the second day of practice by announcing that the first driver to break the unofficial track record would earn a $5,000 "bounty".The previous unofficial single-lap mark had been set last August during an exhibition; Toyota Formula One test driver Ricardo Zonta turning in a lap of 1:06.309 (121.504 mph).

This is the bar that the new Panoz DP01 chassis needed to clear. And, in the event, it was mission accomplished.

New for 2007, the Panoz DP01 chassis will be run by all competitors in the series.Powered by the Ford Cosworth FXE engine and shod with Bridgestone tires, this package is set to break track records at many circuits this year.

Aussie driver Power grabbed an early advantage in the morning as the track was warming up, beating Tracy's time on day one by almost three tenths of a second at 1:06.424.It took Bourdais 32 laps to surpass the Power, and then almost capturing the unofficial record, but settled for 1:06.380 as the teams headed into the lunch hour.

Top five drivers in the morning session for day two: Sebastien Bourdais, 1:06.380 (121.374); Will Power, 106.424 (121.294); Neel Jani (R), 1:06.606 (120.962); Graham Rahal (R), 1:06.710 (120.773) and Alex Tagliani, 1:06.804 (120.604).

Sixteen drivers successfully completed laps on Saturday.Lone driver, rookie Zsolt Baumgartner failed to execute a lap on for the newly formed Minardi Team USA. Baumgartner's time on Friday placed him fifteenth ahead of Dale Coyne Racing's Katherine Legge.

During the afternoon session, rookies Simon Pagenaud and Matt Halliday showed impressive speed, braking into the 1:06s, with times of 1:06.699 and 1:06.930 respectively. Pagenaud is running the second Team Australia car along side Power. Halliday is testing for Conquest Racing after running the Indy Lights Series with the team in 2001, in addition to testing their Champ Car in 2005.

"It seems like a really fun car to drive," Halliday told Champ Car series staff. "I can't thank Conquest Racing enough for giving me this opportunity to test the DP01.I hope it develops into a ride for the season."

Bourdais broke the un-official record with just about five minutes remaining in the weekend.He nearly broke it two other times, but red flag flew on both occasions when he was within just thousands of breaking it on previous laps.

Of additional interest has been the second generation Rahal, the son of Bobby, Graham.Father Bobby won the champ Car event here at Laguna four consecutive times from 1984-87.

The young driver has been bouncing around different series the past three seasons, gaining valuable track time in open-wheeled vehicles, snaring the runner-up spot in Champ Car's Atlantic Series.

Rahal pulled of his best lap in the waning minutes on Saturday, 1:06.561 (121.044 mph), claiming the fourth best time overall during the two-day session.

Champ Car veteran Paul Tracy set the fastest time on day one, blistering the circuit with a 1:06.707 mark at 120.779 mph around Laguna's 11-turn road course.Three-time defending Champion, Sebastien Bourdais was just a tick off with a 1:06.737 (120.725 mph).

"The car was very quick all day, the more we adjustments we made the better it got.Tracy said after the run."This new Panoz is a lot faster than the old car, especially when you are going through the fast corners; the downforce lets you carry a lot more speed."

Jani, who has taken over the second seat at PKV Racing, grabbed third quickest overall on Friday with a lap of 1:06.749 (120.703 mph).He was the fastest driver in the morning session.

Also new for 2007 will be a standing start procedure at some, but not all of the events. During the two-day weekend here at Laguna, the teams were given one hour each day to test out the new procedure.Groups of two cars lined up at a time, in grid formation to experience the format.

Most cars sputtered and strained against their rev limiters and turbo pop-offs, and looked a bit slow off the mark.It will certainly be an interesting challenge when all cars are lined up in an actual event."Several guys figured it out quite well," said Cosworth's Ken Daigle. "Graham Rahal really nailed it, Sebastien (Bourdais) figured it out and so did Paul (Tracy) and some others."

The 2007 season-opening Vegas Grand Prix will take place April 6-8, followed by the Long Beach Grand Prix April 13-15.

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series INDYCAR