PASTORELLI AND PIZZONIA LEARN THE PORTLAND TRACK AND HELP ROCKETSPORTS PREPARE FOR THE UPCOMING RACE IN JUNE EAST LANSING, Michigan (April 14, 2006) -- On June 16-17 the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will...
PASTORELLI AND PIZZONIA LEARN THE PORTLAND TRACK AND HELP ROCKETSPORTS PREPARE FOR THE UPCOMING RACE IN JUNE
EAST LANSING, Michigan (April 14, 2006) -- On June 16-17 the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford will compete in round five at Portland International Raceway and Rocketsports Racing joined all the other teams in a two-day test on the 1.969-mile permanent road course to prepare for the upcoming event in Portland, Oregon.
Nicky Pastorelli ran with Rocketsports on Wednesday joining 16 other Champ Car drivers, while Antonio Pizzonia participated with the team and the field on Thursday. In the past couple of tests that Rocketsports had, they were the only team out on the track, so this test was a bit different for the team as they would have to work with other cars on track and several red flags. Not that it was a situation they weren't used to, as the two-day test was more like typical race weekend practices.
Pastorelli strapped into the #8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone on Wednesday for his first run with the team. Being only his third test in a Champ Car, the just-turned 23-year-old driver took some time early in the day to become acquainted with the PIR course. He spent the rest of the afternoon working with the engineers to learn more about the car and the venue, with an overall goal to find a car setup that was suitable in a working progress to prepare the team for the upcoming race.
He ran 99 laps (194.931 miles) on Wednesday and posted his quickest lap in 59.685 seconds.
The Portland track is usually quicker on cold days, and the team awoke to cloudy and colder conditions on Thursday for their second day of testing. Counting on a quicker track for testing the two Champ Car rookies, the team was surprised when track conditions were slicker than normal. Those conditions caused several incidents on track, bringing out the red flag a number of times during the day, which cost the team valuable on-track running time.
Both former Formula One drivers demonstrated their driving skills were more than capable of meeting the challenge of the PIR road course. Pastorelli ran 86 more laps on Thursday, totaling 185 laps (364.265 miles) in two days, and improved his fast time on the second day recording a lap in 59.368 seconds. Pizzonia logged 91 laps (179.179 miles) and ran his quickest lap in 58.723 seconds.
"It was a positive test," said Pastorelli. "It was important especially for me to get some more miles under my belt in a Champ Car and to get to know the team by working with them. The end result was not too good because we expected better. The drive shaft in the #8 Rocketsports car broke at the end of the day yesterday, so that cost us a little time that we could have used running on track. It was difficult during the two-days because of the changing track, so it was hard to get a really good run because we were constantly changing things on the cars, using different tires, etc. to improve our times. But overall, it was a good two days. I enjoyed working with the team and thank them for this opportunity."
"It was good to log some more miles in the #8 Rocketsports car," said Pizzonia. "It was a good opportunity for me to get to learn the Portland track so that I have a better idea of what to expect when I get a chance to race there in the future. I continue to enjoy working with the Rocketsports team. We were working on finding a good road-course setup; however our results did not show the potential that could have come from the car and myself."
Rocketsports Racing will head back to their East Lansing, Michigan-based shop today to prepare for the next race in Houston, Texas on May 11-13. The team will return to Portland on June 16-18 for the 23rd running of the Grand Prix of Portland.