CHAMPCAR/CART: Castroneves sets the pace at Sebring

Skip Barber trained Helio Castroneves led the first major open testing session as off-season activities resumed at Sebring International Raceway. The Brazilian-born racer recorded a best time of 51.2 sec. on the 1.66-mile road course before ...

Skip Barber trained Helio Castroneves led the first major open testing session as off-season activities resumed at Sebring International Raceway. The Brazilian-born racer recorded a best time of 51.2 sec. on the 1.66-mile road course before mechanical woes forced him to the pits with only 50 miles of testing completed. Under CART regulations, the day will not be counted toward its full testing allotment so he will stay on a day longer than planned to work on development with the Penske team.

"The car is very good," said Castroneves. "I'm very optimistic for the future, so I hope we're going to continue this way. I'm feeling very, very strong.

"It's been a boring couple of weeks [not being in a race car], so it's good to be running again," he continued. "I'm very, very excited. You know, I learned a lot in 2000, and of course I'm going to continue learning, but it's a big difference for me this year, being able to test for 2001 with the same team....This is the first year I feel no pressure; I don't have to prove to anybody what I can do. I'm feeling very good with that."

In Jerez, Spain, 1994 Barber Pro racer Juan Montoya continues to excel in early F1 tests. In only his second day in an F1 car since 1998, Montoya was quick all day and finished with the second-fastest time, only 0.106 sec. off the pace in his BMW-powered Williams FW22 dressed with Michelin wet-weather tires.

- Andrew Torres

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