CHAMPCAR/CART: Sebring test report 2006-01-26

PKV, Newman/Haas Racing Teams Take Test Time Thursday in Sebring SEBRING, Fla. (January 26, 2006) -- Old-school 1980s metal filled the air in the PKV Racing tent this morning at Sebring International Raceway but the day was all about the...

PKV, Newman/Haas Racing Teams Take Test Time Thursday in Sebring

SEBRING, Fla. (January 26, 2006) -- Old-school 1980s metal filled the air in the PKV Racing tent this morning at Sebring International Raceway but the day was all about the future of the fourth-year Champ Car squad.

And while Katherine Legge and Franck Montagny were barely out of the cradle when bands like Poison, Motley Crue and Krokus were big, the two drivers spent a sunny Thursday in Sebring looking to become the Next Big Thing on the Champ Car World Series charts.

Both ran more than 200 miles of testing on the Sebring short course today in hopes of being tabbed to one of the team's seats for the upcoming Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford campaign. Montagny, who had been Renault's Formula 1 test driver for each of the last two seasons, turned his first laps in a Champ Car today while Legge was running her third session after winning three Atlantic races a year ago. The track was quick today, owing to great weather and the fact that last week's sports-car test left a good bit of rubber on the track, and the drivers ran strong times on an incident-free day.

"It was a good day for us," said PKV General Manager Jim McGee. "With Katherine, the things we did were more race-related exercises. Things like pit stops and simulated qualifying runs will help the learning process. Franck did a nice job and was a real professional. He has a lot of experience and it showed. But all of the people we have tested this offseason have all been very qualified drivers."

The PKV hopefuls were joined on track in the morning by Newman/Haas Racing's Bruno Junqueira, who ran 50 miles in the morning before shutting down, a strategy planned by the team to save a valuable test day.

"It was good for us," Junqueira said. "We weren't really trying to put up fast times but I was happy with the fact that we still ran some quick times on old tires. I feel very good, my back doesn't hurt at all and I am ready to put in a full day tomorrow."

Legge was running her second test session with PKV Racing and logged a productive day as she worked on a number of race-related issues that she hasn't had to deal with as she worked her way through the driver development system.

"It was an interesting day," she said. "I've never had to do pit stops before and we did about 20 of them today. It's a little bit different. This whole thing is a learning process and it's exciting but it's a little frustrating at the same time. You see guys like Bruno and I want to be as good as they are right now! I want to do all my learning at once but I know that it doesn't work like that. It's a learning process and I have to remember that every thing I do on days like this makes me a better driver."

For Montagny, his first day in a Champ Car confirmed the reports that he got from former rivals such as Sebastien Bourdais and Justin Wilson and showed him that the series is where he wants to be for 2006 and beyond.

"The car was quite good and while I know it's a little older, it is still very physical and very fun to drive," said the two-time Telefonica World Series champion. "There's a lot happening in this car. The team was good and I think it was a very productive day.

"I'm here because I want to be here in 2006. I'm not thinking about F1 at all," Montagny continued. "I did about everything I could do and they didn't give me a chance. I talked with Justin and Sebastien and they told me that this was a very god championship and today showed me that there is a lot here and I want to be part of it."

All three drivers will test again on Friday, with Legge expected to run a full race simulation complete with pit stops in what is slated to be a run of more than 130 laps.

-ccws-

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Series INDYCAR