Texaco/Havoline Newman/Haas driver Cristiano da Matta got his first experience behind the wheel of the 2001 Toyota-powered Lola chassis yesterday at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. and was pleased. "Everything went well for our...
Texaco/Havoline Newman/Haas driver Cristiano da Matta got his first experience behind the wheel of the 2001 Toyota-powered Lola chassis yesterday at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Fla. and was pleased.
"Everything went well for our first day," said da Matta. "We had a few problems in the morning with little things for fitting me in the new car so we lost a lot of time working on that. The afternoon was so good and we got so many things accomplished that it didn't really matter that we had a bad morning."
The team worked on fitting da Matta comfortably in the 2001 Lola and was able to make an installation run of a few laps before taking a break for lunch.
Once back on track da Matta was able to run approx. 160 trouble-free miles and complete numerous goals for the team.
"We ran about 160 miles and went through some new changes before we did a long run," said da Matta, who scored his first CART victory last season at Chicago Motor Speedway in only his second year in the series.
"Most of the changes we went through were positive and I am really looking forward to running again. We did our fast time with old tires so I felt there is a lot of potential with the 2001 Lola. We didn't set the fastest time of everyone here in my first day in the new car but that is not the most important thing about testing. Overall I am very pleased with our first day. When the first contact with the car is good, it's a very good thing for the future."
The already relatively cool temperatures began dropping around 4 PM ET so the team called it a day because the data obtained in the conditions would be irrelevant. The temperature was forecasted to be colder today so the team planned to wait until later morning when the track was warmer before the resumed testing.
Da Matta will again be behind the wheel today before handing over testing duties to Kmart Newman/Haas driver Christian Fittipaldi for the final day of testing tomorrow, Thursday, January 11.
The 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series season opener will take place on March 11 in Monterrey, Mexico. The series will compete in 22 races in eight countries around the world in 2001. Log onto Newman-Haas.com, FITTIPALDIonline.com or damatta.com (Portuguese only) for more information on the team.