RAINS SHORTEN FINAL DAY OF CHAMP CAR TESTING AT SEBRING
SEBRING, Fla., (March 23, 2006) -- The rains came to Central Florida today, but not in time to stop the teams and drivers of the Champ Car World Series from getting in another day of work as they prepare for the start of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season.
Newman/Haas Racing with Sebastien Bourdais (#1 McDonald's Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Bruno Junqueira (#2 Newman/Haas Racing Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) led the way over the two days of testing at Sebring International Raceway, with Bourdais clocking a best lap of 49.93 seconds on Wednesday. Both drivers ran again on Thursday before afternoon rains closed things down three hours early.
"Things went very well for us," Bourdais said. "We had a very good first day, the conditions were just about perfect and we worked on quite a few things. The track was very grippy and fast, and we did a lot of laps so it was a good physical workout as well. We ran a lot of laps and a lot of them in the 50s (seconds), so we were working hard. I think we're ready for the season to start."
PKV Racing ran two days with Katherine Legge (#20 Gulfstream/Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and Oriol Servia (#6 Gulfstream/Bell Micro Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), although Servia ran a 50-mile day today as did Nelson Philippe (#4 CTE Racing -- HVM Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone).
Legge ran a full second day and is making the most of her final test sessions prior to her April 9 Champ Car debut at Long Beach.
"Things are really going well for us as we keep working toward getting ready for Long Beach," Legge said. "The team has been 100 percent behind me and I think that we have gotten to the point where we have good chemistry. Of course I am very excited about working with Oriol and he has been very helpful so far. Jimmy (Vasser) has been great too and I think we'll be in good shape at Long Beach."
CTE Racing -- HVM ran just 50 miles with new signee Philippe today, but put in 51 laps with former British F3 driver Dan Clarke. The 2004 Formula Ford Festival champion ran a few stints to get familiar with the Champ Car as the team looks to finalize its driver lineup for 2006.
"The car feels really good. It did everything I expected it to," said Clarke, who had tested earlier with Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing. "It was hard work out there. The team told me to do some six-lap runs but I pushed out to 10 because Long Beach is only two weeks away and you can't afford to get into things slowly now."
Clarke was on hand as a possible driver for the team's second car, which will carry the #14 instead of the #55 this season. The 22-year-old Brit is looking to run his first season in the United States, and wants to do it in Champ Car.
"The main thing that interests me about Champ Car is that it's a level playing field here," he said. "The teams are much more equal than they are in Formula 1 and I want to race in a series that allows you to go out and show how good you are and I think Champ Car is the best for that.
CTE Racing -- HVM will test at Sebring again for the next two days while the majority of the teams are traveling cross-country to participate in Champ Car open testing at California Speedway next Wednesday and Thursday. All the testing is in preparation for the season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, which takes place April 7-9. The race can be seen live on NBC beginning at 4 p.m. on Sunday April 9.