CHAMPCAR/CART: Fittipaldi first test day - Sebring

Fittipaldi completes first day of testing 2002 Toyota-Lola for Newman/Haas Racing at Sebring International Raceway SEBRING, Fla. (January 11, 2002) --- Christian Fittipaldi completed the first day of testing Newman/Haas Racing's 2002 ...

Fittipaldi completes first day of testing 2002 Toyota-Lola for Newman/Haas Racing at Sebring International Raceway

SEBRING, Fla. (January 11, 2002) --- Christian Fittipaldi completed the first day of testing Newman/Haas Racing's 2002 Toyota-powered Lola chassis on the 1.65-mile road course at Sebring International Raceway today and was confident the new package will be even better than the 2001 combination that propelled to team to three victories and six podium finishes overall in the CART FedEx Championship Series.

"We had the usual first-test problems but overall we are happy with the fact that we learned some areas that we can work on before our next test," said Fittipaldi, who will begin his eighth season in the CART FedEx Championship Series. "We ran over 200 trouble-free miles today and have started to work on 2002, which is always a good time because there is so much optimism when the entire season is ahead of you. Our quickest time was a 51.7 but I think there was more speed in the car if we would have put more laps together in a row. I spent some time relaxing with my family and friends since the season ended and I am completely focused and ready to start the 2002 season."

Undertaking his first official test day in the capacity of race engineer was team veteran Craig Hampson, 31, who begins his ninth season with Newman/Haas Racing and first in the capacity of race engineer after being promoted from assistant race engineer for Cristiano da Matta in 2001. Hampson was equally excited about the 2002 season and the Toyota-Lola combination.

"Newman/Haas ended the 2001 season with two wins and a clear idea of the areas we needed to work on to be a consistent Championship contender," said Hampson. "Christian and I worked together at the final two races of last season and we can build on that experience during the off-season before the first race in Mexico. Everything is a known quantity from the Toyota engine to the Lola chassis to the driver so we can just concentrate on building upon an already established relationship."

"We ran our first full day of testing with the 2002 Toyota-Lola today and are pleased with how competitive the car is at speed," added Brian Lisles, General Manager of Newman/Haas Racing. "We took a "50-mile day" yesterday after finding some minor teething problems and decided to stop and fix them before resuming today. We ran trouble-free today and have made notes of areas that we need to work on. Overall we are happy with our first full day of testing to get to acclimated with the new car. As the first two events are on road and street courses, we plan to continue working on our road course set up in order to defend our win in Mexico as well as be competitive again on the street course in Long Beach before heading to the short oval in Japan."

The team will travel to their Lincolnshire, Ill.-base before returning to Sebring for a Jan. 21-23 test. Cristiano da Matta will return to "active duty" next Wednesday after a long vacation at home in Belo Horizonte, Brazil. His return to US soil will take place in Chicago when he visits the race shop for a three-day seat fitting before getting back in a race car for the first time since he scored back-to-back wins in the CART FedEx events in Australia and the 500-mile race at The California Speedway.

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 , Paul Newman , Cristiano da Matta