CHAMPCAR/CART: MSR Houston test notes 2006-11-28

CHAMP CAR TEAMS TAKE DIFFERENT PATHS TOWARD COMMON GOAL IN MSR HOUSTON TESTING ANGLETON, Texas (November 28, 2006) -- The recipe for success in the Champ Car World Series features a number of ingredients. Today at MSR Houston, teams went...

CHAMP CAR TEAMS TAKE DIFFERENT PATHS TOWARD COMMON GOAL IN MSR HOUSTON TESTING

ANGLETON, Texas (November 28, 2006) -- The recipe for success in the Champ Car World Series features a number of ingredients. Today at MSR Houston, teams went shopping for those ingredients, although the only thing that they had in common was the fact that they were walking the aisles of the same store.

Forsythe Championship Racing was on hand with 16-year-old Richard Philippe in the car testing components that they intend to use on the 2007 Panoz DP01 Champ Car, while Pacific Coast Motorsports logged laps in a pair of Rocketsports Lolas, getting drivers Ryan Dalziel and Alex Figge more familiar not only with the car, but also with the engineers and teammates that will aid them in battle next season.

Meanwhile, Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing went about their 2007 preparation in the tried-and-true method of giving new drivers a chance to show their skills in the Champ Car, with Guillaume Moreau and Alex Premat both turning their first Champ Car laps.

And while the finished product will not be put on display until the April 8 season opener, each team appeared satisfied that they had gotten what they came for in the first of three days of testing at the South Texas road course.

Premat carded the fastest time of the day despite turning less than 25 laps, as the A1GP champion made his first appearance in a Champ Car, but the rest of the field was less than a half-second behind after a full day of testing. Premat, who also competed in GP2 as well as serving as a test driver for the Spyker MF1 Forrmula 1 team, is expected to run a full day of testing tomorrow alongside EuroSeries F3 competitor Moreau.

"I really like Champ Car a lot, I watched every race this year and I intend on doing everything I can to be in the series this year," Premat said. "The car is a lot of fun. The acceleration was great, the stability of the car was very impressive and I am glad that I got to run some laps today so I can be ready for a full day tomorrow."

Moreau also turned his first Champ Car laps, putting in 65 laps around the 17-turn MSR Houston layout. The 23-year-old Frenchman spent the last five years in European open-wheel racing, including three seasons in Formula Renault, and was pleased with his first day in the more powerful Champ Car.

"It's a really big gap for me from a 200-horsepower F3 car to a Champ Car. It's a fantastic car," Moreau said. "Inside the car, everything arrives fairly quickly and you have to be focused. This is a good team for me, they get the job done and still have fun. It's a different style than the European teams have. I would love to race here with them."

The Pacific Coast Motorsports squad saved the best for last on Tuesday, running their fastest times at the end of the day as they worked not only on continuing to get their former Atlantic stars acclimated to Champ Cars, but also fine-tuning the all-important communication with engineers Burke Harrison and Tim Lewis.

"We've done a good bit of testing already but you never really get over the shock of how ridiculously fast a Champ Car is," explained Dalziel. "We know we have a lot of work to do and not a lot of time to get it done, so every bit of time we get in the car is valuable to the whole team."

Figge and Dalziel both have Atlantic race wins under their belts, and the team understands that the Rocketsports car they drove today will be a good bit different than the Panoz they will pilot in Las Vegas on April 8. But as Figge tells, the basic principles are similar enough to make any testing worthwhile.

"The new cars will still be a Champ Car. People that haven't driven it may not understand it fully and Roberto Moreno (who did the test driving for the DP01) will tell you of some differences, but it's the same engine and it puts power down the same way. What is really comes down to is, 'Can you do it?' That's why were here. Is every little thing going to be the same? No. But any time in a Champ Car is important to us."

On the other end of the pit lane, the Forsythe team spent the day not worrying about who was driving the car, just what was happening to the pieces they were bolting onto it.

"Today is really more for the team than anything," said Forsythe Team Manager Phil Le Pan. "We are testing a number of things that we hope we can use on the new car and we gathered a lot of data that can help us. Certainly there is a benefit to the young drivers that came out here and Richard did everything that we asked of him and did a great job all day, but in the end it was a good day for us because we got the work done we needed for the new car."

Meanwhile Philippe was pleased that he earned valuable time behind the wheel of a Champ Car, something the not many drivers his age have the opportunity to get.

"I am very pleased with how it went. I'm 16 years old and days like this are really a bonus for me and for my career," he said. "I was within a couple of tenths of Premat and with everything he has done in his career, he should be faster. But to be close at this stage is good for me. I am happy to come help the team out and I am even more pleased that they offered me the opportunity. It wasn't like I was pushing them for a test. The offered me the chance and I think I helped them and I helped myself."

No official times were available for the test session, which will continue tomorrow. The Mi-Jack/Conquest and Pacific Coast driver lineups will remain unchanged while Forsythe will bring in Atlantic veteran Andreas Wirth to relieve Philippe while also offering an opportunity to former U.S. F2000 driver and reigning SPEED GT Champion Lawson Aschenbach.

-credit: ccws

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Ryan Dalziel , Roberto Moreno , Alex Figge , Tim Lewis , Andreas Wirth , Guillaume Moreau
Teams Conquest Racing