CHAMPCAR/CART: Da Matta behind the wheel at Sebring

Da Matta Enjoys First Day Back Behind The Wheel While Testing 2002 Havoline Toyota Lola - Celebrated By Setting Fastest Race Lap At Sebring International Raceway SEBRING, Fla. (January 22, 2002) --- Cristiano da Matta was happy to be back behind...

Da Matta Enjoys First Day Back Behind The Wheel While Testing 2002 Havoline Toyota Lola - Celebrated By Setting Fastest Race Lap At Sebring International Raceway

SEBRING, Fla. (January 22, 2002) --- Cristiano da Matta was happy to be back behind the wheel today in his first day of testing the 2002 Havoline Toyota-Lola since he scored back-to-back wins in the final two CART FedEx Championship Series events in Australia and the 500-mile race at The California Speedway. Da Matta took over testing duties from teammate Christian Fittipaldi who had already completed two days of testing this month on the 1.65-mile road course at Sebring International Raceway. The team is testing in preparation for the 2002 CART FedEx Championship.

"It was great to get back behind the wheel," said da Matta, whose lap time of 51.5 was possibly the fastest lap of the day. "The car was nicely balanced after Christian worked with it for two days. I thought it was pleasant to drive. After a few runs to get the cobwebs off, I was able to do a 51.4 just before lunch. We were then able to start work on different set-ups and we made a big change to the car after lunch but weren't able to go quicker. Overall it was a good day and I am looking forward to more tomorrow."

Da Matta's new engineer, Guillaume "Rocky" Rocquelin, worked with da Matta for the first time today although the Frenchman has been present at all tests since joining the team in mid-December after a successful season with 2001 "Rookie of the Year" and race winner Scott Dixon at PacWest Racing.

"It was nice to get down to work with Cristiano," said Rocquelin. "I think we communicated well straightaway. We started with the car in good shape and continued to learn how to make it better. We ran 186 trouble free miles today and plan to do the same tomorrow. We have much more work to do in order to be ready for the season but I am glad to have had the first day with Cristiano go so well. I think we will work well together."

Newman/Haas Racing, owned by actor/race car driver Paul Newman and racing entrepreneur Carl A. Haas, competes in the CART FedEx Championship Series. The team will begin their 20th season in the series in 2002 as the most successful active competitor with 61 race wins and 63 pole positions. For more information log on to www.newman-haas.com, www.texaco.com/racing or www.cart.com. The 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series season kicks off March 10 at Monterrey, Mexico and the 19-race schedule will be broadcast by new television partners, CBS and Fox Cable Networks Group, including Speedvision/Speed Channel.

-NHR-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Christian Fittipaldi , Scott Dixon , Paul Newman , Cristiano da Matta