Alex Zanardi ...
#66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard
In one of the more unusual opening days of practice in recent CART FedEx Championship Series memory, Alex Zanardi and his #66 Pioneer-WorldCom/Mo Nunn Racing Honda-Reynard was 16th in practice this afternoon for Sunday's Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit. Zanardi, teammate Tony Kanaan, and the other seven Honda competitors sat out the entire 1-hour, 45-minute practice session this morning while disputing a surprise engine specifications change introduced at the beginning of this weekend's activities by CART officials. Ford teams also took part in the dispute and sat out all but the final 15 minutes of this morning's opening session.
The specification change involved the incorporation of a .75-inch spacer at the bottom of the pop-off valve. Honda deemed this a critical modification of the engine control system with a significant impact on performance, and with no proper chance to test the new component, Honda teams elected not to run this morning's session. When it was apparent CART was not going to allow teams to run without the .75-inch spacer, Honda left it up to the discretion of its teams whether they chose to continue here this weekend. The full field chose to run this afternoon.
Zanardi's recorded a fast lap in this afternoon's 90-minute practice session of 1:16.089 seconds (an average of 110.996 mph) around the 2.346-mile temporary street course in Belle Isle Park. Kanaan's fast lap was 1:16.627 seconds (110.217 mph). Dario Franchitti (1:14.838 seconds; 112.852 mph) was fastest overall, followed by Patrick Carpentier (1:15.126; 112.419) and Bruno Junqueira (1:15.234; 112.259).
Practice resumes Saturday at 10 a.m. EDT and qualifying is set for 1:45 p.m. EDT. Qualifying will air at 5:30 p.m. EDT Saturday on ESPN2. Race time Sunday is 2 p.m EDT with a live broadcast carried by ABC-TV. The Sunday-morning CART2DAY warm-up show will air at 11 a.m. EDT.
"Considering how my car feels, I could've used even more than the two hours we lost this morning. Everybody's having the same problems, I'm sure, but my car is just not right. We have a lot of work to do to get it right. We' ll just try to take what little we found out this afternoon and try to make the most of it tomorrow."
EDITORS NOTE: Morris's comments regarding CART's surprise engine specifications change today are not fit for print or broadcast.
-Mo Nunn Racing