Rio 400 Practice Report De Ferran Second Fastest as Rio 400 Practice Opens Gil de Ferran gave the partisan Brazilian fans something to celebrate in opening practice activities today for Sunday's Rio 400 FedEx Championship Series race. On a...
Rio 400 Practice Report
De Ferran Second Fastest as Rio 400 Practice Opens
Gil de Ferran gave the partisan Brazilian fans something to celebrate in opening practice activities today for Sunday's Rio 400 FedEx Championship Series race. On a day shortened somewhat by rain showers in the morning, the Walker Racing driver was second quickest overall and the only driver besides pace-setter Michael Andretti to break into the 39-second range.
Paul Tracy also had a strong run today, placing his Team KOOL Green fifth overall despite a spin in turn four and ranks solidly among the pre-race favorites. Just behind Tracy, Tasman Motorsports' Tony Kanaan was again quickest of the rookie contingent while Jimmy Vasser survived a spin in turn four in his Target/Chip Ganassi Racing entry, without contact, to wind up eighth quickest.
Following a final practice session tomorrow morning, single-car qualifying runs will start at 11:45 a.m. EDT.
GIL DE FERRAN (#5 Valvoline/Cummins/Walker Racing Reynard Honda): "It was a very good first day. This is the only time all year they race on the oval circuit here, so the track was still very dirty this afternoon. Usually, we get all the dust and stuff cleaned off in the morning, but that was cut short by the rain and nobody got any real running time. But our initial set-up seems to be okay and the Honda engine is working extremely well. We're happy."
PAUL TRACY (#26 Team KOOL Green Reynard Honda): "I'm very happy with the job the guys did getting the backup car ready. It's not often that you get in the second car and it's better (than the primary). They did a great job [the backup] ended up about nine-tenths (of a second) quicker. We made good progress in the last part of the session, and there's still a lot left. It will be better when the track gets clean. It's still slippery out there, you get half an inch off line and you loose it."
TONY KANAAN (#21 LCI/Tasman Motorsports Reynard Honda): "Sometimes things happen for the good. We had some small transmission problems in the session with the primary car. We brought out the t-car and were able to go faster. I think what happened to us in Japan is happen ing here -- the t-car is better than the primary car. I'm happy. We have a pretty good setup and we saved a lot of tires, although I damaged one set when I spun in Turn Four. That was a big scare, but I'm okay. I'm very happy. Let's see what we can do tomorrow."
JIMMY VASSER (#12 Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Reynard Honda): "The track is very slick and sandy. Overall, the car is difficult to drive with the lack of grip. When I spun exiting out of turn four, the car was pushing and then just jumped out on me. I was steering Ôin the mirrors', to miss the wall going backwards, then locked up the brakes and popped three tires."
DARIO FRANCHITTI (#27 Team KOOL Green Reynard Honda): "Everybody is looking for grip. It's like driving on ice, especially in turns one and four. We are all taking it to the limit on a dirty track, and that makes for some interesting times. With that in mind, our car is not too bad, but we will definitely be working on finding more grip for tomorrow."
ALEX ZANARDI (#1 Target/Chip Ganassi Racing Reynard Honda): "We had a very frustrating day. Every time we'd try to get a decent lap together it always went yellow. We tried a lot with both cars, but got little result. Sure, there's a lap time to be had out there, and we're looking for it. We just need to make the car better."