CHAMPCAR/CART: Sebring - Tora quickly up to speed in first test

SEBRING, Fla., January 12, 2000 -- Walker Racing rookie driver Tora (Tiger) Takagi wasted little time getting used to Champ Cars and ended his first test for Derrick Walker's CART FedEx Championship team only one-tenth off the pace of the quickest...

SEBRING, Fla., January 12, 2000 -- Walker Racing rookie driver Tora (Tiger) Takagi wasted little time getting used to Champ Cars and ended his first test for Derrick Walker's CART FedEx Championship team only one-tenth off the pace of the quickest driver at a Champ Car test in Sebring on Jan. 9 -- 12.

Tora logged a total of 280 laps and 462 miles on the 1.65-mile road course during the three-day test and his fastest lap in the #5 Pioneer/DENSO car was 51.1 seconds. Tora and the Walker Racing team are getting to know each other and their new Toyota engines for the 2001 season.

"It was a very good test in many different ways," said owner Derrick Walker. "It's the start of a new partnership with our new engine supplier, our new driver and new car, and although predictable in some ways, it was a refreshing experience to have all these new components at a test and to be able to stand back as an observer and see them all come together so well. Tora is very aggressive and has a lot of passion and desire to do well, so as the first test of a new season, it's a very encouraging start."

Days One and Two of the CART test were unseasonably cool and windy, with temperatures in the low 50's, and Tora had several spins and one major off in his first day in the car. He spun at Turn 7 and damaged the front and rear wings. The Walker crew quickly repaired the damage and sent Tora back out to log more miles in the unfamiliar race car.

By the last day of the test, Tora had adjusted well to the track and running with the other ten or eleven CART drivers who were also present at the test. The weather was much more conducive to speed, with temperatures in the mid-70's and no wind.

"It was a very good first experience for us," said Team Manager Rob Edwards. "The Toyota engine was very reliable and we got very good support from Toyota. We really felt we were a part of the Toyota family right from the start. Not only was the test good for Tora, but it was also good for our team. Our engineers Al (Bodey) and Yoshi (Iwashita) have already started to build a good relationship with Tora, and this test was a very good baseline for our team to build on."

Walker Racing's sponsors are DENSO Corporation, Pioneer Electronics, Firestone, PPG, Craftsman, St. Elmo Steakhouse, Toyota and Reynard.

-Walker Racing

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Series IndyCar