BRUNO JUNQUEIRA RETURNS TO CHAMP CAR IN TEST AT SEBRING INTERNATIONAL RACEWAY
SEBRING, Fla. (December 12, 2005) -- The last time that Bruno Junqueira emerged from a Champ Car, he climbed to the top step of the victory podium in Monterrey, Mexico. Junqueira left Fundidora Park with the Bridgestone Presents the Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford points lead and high hopes for the 2005 season. But an injury suffered at the Indianapolis 500 later that month derailed Junqueira's quest for the Champ Car title.
Junqueira returned to the cockpit of the #2 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone today and once again paced the field setting the fastest time during the first of three days of testing at Sebring International Raceway.
Junqueira showed little rust after spending a long summer recovering from his injuries, setting a fast time of 51.1 seconds during 77 laps on the 1.65-mile South Florida layout. Six other drivers also took to the track with PKV Racing running evaluations of Ryan Briscoe and Ryan Dalziel, Rocketsports Racing running Richard Lyons and the Mi-Jack Conquest Racing testing Jan Heylen, Alx Danielsson and Dan Clarke.
"Today's one of the best day's of my career," said Newman/Haas driver Junqueira."I have worked hard for months to get back in the PacifiCare car and we were up to speed quick. I feel great! I'm at 100 percent right now. We had no problems and I finished as many laps as the engineers would let me."
The PKV Racing duo of Ryan Briscoe and Ryan Dalziel were next of the time charts both turning laps in the 51 second range. Both Briscoe and Dalziel worked through their testing programs under the watchful eye of team owner and 1996 Champion Jimmy Vasser who was pleased with their performances. The test marked the first time Briscoe has driven a Champ Car and is coming off of a Formula 1 test and was excited to get some seat time.
"It has been a busy week," said the Australian Briscoe. "A Champ Car and a Formula 1 car are very similar. A Champ Car has more horsepower and no driver aids so you have to set it up for the middle of the corner. Both cars are demanding and you don't want to try and muscle them around. It was a really good day and I know a few drivers are trying for a seat at PKV. I know I'm getting a fair shot and I think things are looking good."
Mi-Jack Conquest Racing fielded a trio of drivers today, with Belgian Jan Heylen running the fastest of the three at 52.1 seconds. Richard Lyons in the Rocketsports car clocked a best time of 52.3 seconds.
The driver lineup will shake up tomorrow as a group of fresh faces will take to the Sebring track. Katherine Legge will prepare for her PKV Racing test week by shaking down a Rocketsports machine on -Tuesday. Also expected on track tomorrow will be the top-two finishers from the 2005 Champ Car Atlantic Championship. Charles Zwolsman and Tonis Kasemets will both test for Mi-Jack Conquest and Giorgio Pantano will also strap into the PKV Racing machine for an evaluation.
<pre> Monday's Lap Times 1. Bruno Junqueira 51.1 seconds 2. Ryan Briscoe 51.5 3. Ryan Dalziel 51.8 4. Jan Heylen 52.1 5. Richard Lyons 52.3 6. Alx Danielsson 52.9 7. Dan Clarke 53.8