HOMESTEAD, Fla. (January 14, 2000) â€“ Shinji Nakano came to Homestead-Miami Speedway for his first test on an oval track this week, bringing an impressive resume which included three years of Formula One experience. He could have included "quick...
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (January 14, 2000) – Shinji Nakano came to Homestead-Miami Speedway for his first test on an oval track this week, bringing an impressive resume which included three years of Formula One experience. He could have included "quick learner."
Nakano ran an unofficial lap of 26.72 seconds (203.1 miles per hour) on the 1.5-mile oval in Walker’s Honda-powered Reynard, the second fastest lap of the off-season in preparation for the season-opening March 24-26 Grand Prix of Miami presented by Toyota. Only two-time Miami winner Michael Andretti was able to go quicker (204.5 mph), driving the Newman/Haas Kmart/Texaco-Havoline Ford-Lola.
"This is my first experience on an oval," said Nakano, who also has tested for Walker on the road course in Sebring, Fla. "It’s a beautiful track, and it’s fun to drive."
Nakano and Andretti were among five CART teams to test on Thursday, joining Penske Motorsports’ Gil de Ferran, Dale Coyne Racing’s Takuya Kurosawa, and the PPI Motorsports duo of Cristiano da Matta and Oriol Servia.
Testing for only the second time with the Walker team, Nakano is enjoying his first taste of American competition.
"CART racing is exciting," said the Tokyo resident. "It’s completely different from Formula One. I’ve been working with Prost and Minardi in Formula One for two years, and last year I was with the Jordan Mugen Honda team as the test driver. CART is much more competitive than Formula One. The people working with Walker team are completely different, much more relaxed. Formula One is a little bit too intense. Here, I can enjoy motorsports. This is the most important thing in motor racing is you have to enjoy your job. Only then can you be really, really serious."
Nakano posted five top-ten finishes for Prost in 1997, including sixth at Canada and Hungary. His best finish for Minardi in 1998 was seventh at Canada
Nakano isn’t the only newcomer to Walker Racing. The team will be using Firestone tires in 2000, after being Goodyear’s top team in 1999.
"We are trying to find a good setup for the Firestone tires," he explained. "It will be a little bit different from the Goodyears. At the moment, we are scrambling to find the difference."
As his fast lap moments after his interview proved, the team is heading in the right direction.
Ticket orders are now being accepted for the 2000 Grand Prix of Miami presented by Toyota, by calling (305) 230-RACE. For additional information, visit the Speedway’s official web site, www.homesteadmiamispeedway.com.