CHAMPCAR/CART: Detroit Friday afternoon practice

By - David C. Schilke - Motorsport.com Belle Isle - Detroit, Michigan - By the afternoon the temperatures reached scorching levels. The ambient track temperature was over 100 degrees. The heat wasn't the only hot topic. All three engine ...

By - David C. Schilke - Motorsport.com

Belle Isle - Detroit, Michigan - By the afternoon the temperatures reached scorching levels. The ambient track temperature was over 100 degrees. The heat wasn't the only hot topic. All three engine manufactures released press reports on the new rules for the pop-off valves.

· Toyota reports that they with the other two manufactures were issued the new pop-off valves on the Tuesday test sessions at Michigan and Mid-Ohio. They claim that the new ruling does not change the performance on the Toyota engine. The engines still produce the 37 inches of boost mandated by CART from the start of the season. · Ford-Cosworth Racing issued a release stating that CART unexpectedly announced the ruling this morning at the Detroit Grand Prix. Ford and the team owners using Ford engines decided to stand down at the start of morning practice, unsure of the effects the new changes may cause. After an hour and 25 minute delay the Ford cars were released to practice. Ian Bisco, Vice-President, Cosworth Racing, INC., USA states, "We made CART aware of our displeasure in the way this situation was handled. We are challenging the way this new piece of equipment was introduce…." "This is a protest based on principle of the way it was introduced, more so than protesting the piece itself." · Honda also feels there was no adequate warning to the mandate before today. Honda is concerned that without testing the new spacer that safety and drivability are not guaranteed. Because of this Honda opted to not run this morning session and allowed teams to run the afternoon at their discretion. Honda also states, "This is a modification of a critical component of the engine control system." Honda also points out that in CART rule book, paragraph 9.5.4.A.3C states, "If an insulator or gasket is used (in reference to any spacer between the valve and plenum mount), such devices must not exceed 0.25 inches in thickness." The spacer CART has mandated is ¾ of an inch. · In their news release CART states, "All FedEx Championship Series engine manufacturers were notified earlier this week that all Champ Cars would be fitted with the extended manifold pressure relief valve, beginning at the Tenneco Automotive Grand Prix of Detroit. Jeff Horton, CART Vice President of Electronics added, "All three manufacturers - Ford, Honda and Toyota - were involved in the test (at Michigan International Speedway). At the time of the test the engine manufactures were informed of out intentions that the component would be implemented this weekend." The pop-off valves are maintained by CART to insure that all valves are equal in performance. The spacer was added to insure the safety and competitiveness of the sport.

The afternoon session saw all three engine manufactures out on the track. The drivers used the afternoon session to work on their setup for the weekend and test the spacer on the pop-off valve. Every car was out in the session at least for one lap. Dario Franchitti set the fastest time this afternoon by having a 1:14.838 (112.852mph) lap time. Second fastest was Patrick Carpentier going 112.419mph. The rookie Bruno Junqueira snagged the third quickest spot with a 112.258 lap. The top 10 drivers were separated only by a half of a second.

In the afternoon session a Honda car was the fastest and Ford was second. There seems to be no advantage that Toyota holds over the other two.

What the fastest driver had to say:

Franchitti: "It's great to be fastest on Friday, but we need to do it again tomorrow when it really counts. I've got to hand it to Lain (Watt), my engineer. Team KOOL Green really had a good set up today for trying to do a fast lap. This is not the sort of track you want to be starting back in the field; it's just so difficult to pass here. We'll probably go back to where we started for a race setup."

Carpentier still has a chipped bone on his left wrist from an accident at Long Beach. While concerned about his wrist Carpentier feels that it will be fine this weekend. He says that while it is a little stiff its not that big of a problem, and being second fastest today shows that it certainly is not affecting is driving.

Michael Andretti was 13th fastest in the PM session in his Honda/Reynard at 111.226mph. What he had to say about today's testing: "The car is not bad. I think we could have been in the top five or six today but we only took one lap on our new tires since there was quite a bit of traffic at the end of the day. We did have a bit too much understeer this afternoon. We played a bit of catch up after missing this mornings practice and practice is important if you can take advantage of the track time over the other guys that's key now since there is no in-season testing."

Tomorrow's schedule starts off the official Detroit Grand Prix weekend. The CART Champ cars are scheduled for a morning practice and group one and two qualifying in the afternoon.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Patrick Carpentier , Dario Franchitti