Marlboro Team Penske completed their second test with the 2001 Marlboro Honda Reynard and their final test of 2000 as Gil de Ferran piloted the #1 Marlboro Honda Reynard around the 1.660-mile road course at Sebring Raceway. De Ferran, who was in a race car for the first time since he clinched the FedEx Series Championship at the season-ending Marlboro 500 in October, ran approximately 350 miles over the two-day test.
"After not having been in a race car since Fontana it really felt great to be back `on the horse' again," said de Ferran. "We had a good test and we accomplished what we set out to do. Now is the time when we do our homework and prepare for the new season, and so far stage one has gone well. We still have a lot of work to do but overall I'm pleased with the results - the car ran well and its a nice way to end the year and head into the holiday season."
"We were able to bring two cars to the test so that we could run as efficiently as possible," said Penske Racing President Tim Cindric. "With the limited testing schedule for 2001 we were fortunate to be able to run different set-ups on each car and make changes to one car as we were running the other. The two-car strategy paid off, as we were able to improve our time by half a second from our last test here (December 5-6 with Castroneves). The track conditions weren't ideal - the first day it never got out of the 50s so we didn't run as much as we would've liked. On Thursday the temperature reached 60 degrees and we were able to run more laps. The important thing is that we are learning more and more about the new package and we are progressing with each test. Once again we left Sebring with positive results and good direction going in to the New Year."
While the Team was in between test sessions, Marlboro Team Penske held their annual Christmas Party at Berkshire Country Club in Reading, PA. The party provided a perfect opportunity for the whole Team to get together to celebrate the successes of the 2000 season. It was also the perfect time for Roger Penske to present each Team member with a ring commemorating the Team's 100th win, which Gil de Ferran earned for Penske at the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix in Nazareth, PA, and their record-tenth National Championship
In addition to the festivities in the Team's hometown, drivers Gil de Ferran and Helio Castroneves accompanied Roger Penske and Penske Racing President Tim Cindric to New York City for a holiday visit at Philip Morris USA. While there Penske, de Ferran and Cindric each received a sterling silver race car from Tiffany's in honor of the 100th win, while Castroneves received a framed piece of the fence he climbed when he recorded his first CART win in Detroit.
Every family has their own Christmas traditions, and the Marlboro Team Penske family is no different. To celebrate the holidays this year, Helio Castroneves got an early start and headed for the beaches of St. Barts before heading to his home in Brazil to spend the holidays with family and friends.
Gil de Ferran will be celebrating Christmas with his wife Angela and their two children at their home in Ft. Lauderdale. After Christmas, he and his family will head to Utah to hit the slopes for some skiing and relaxation.
Helio Castroneves was named ESPN - The Magazine's NEXT in Racing. The NEXT issue, which highlights 23 up-and-coming athletes who are predicted to rise to the top in their respective sports, will hit newsstands on December 25th. Castroneves was photographed for the feature in November as he drove a Honda S2000 through the dark of night in Times Square (NYC).
Also featured in the front of the issue is Gil de Ferran as he spent the day in New York on his Champion's Tour.