CHAMPCAR/CART: Surfers Paradise: Fernandez Racing preview

Fernandez and Nakano Ready to Challenge on the Gold Coast. Adrian Fernandez knows what it takes to claim victory on the streets of Surfers Paradise, and the 2000 race winner is hoping to make the final street-course event of the 2002 season a ...

Fernandez and Nakano Ready to Challenge on the Gold Coast.

Adrian Fernandez knows what it takes to claim victory on the streets of Surfers Paradise, and the 2000 race winner is hoping to make the final street-course event of the 2002 season a memorable one. Top-10 results in the five street circuit events contested to date this season add to his optimism. As the series heads into the home stretch, Fernandez is looking to end the year on a high note.

Shinji Nakano is ready to return to the cockpit after suffering first and second-degree burns on his hands following a fuel fire during the Grand Prix Americas race in Miami, Florida, on October 6. A three-week break in the race schedule prior to Australia has helped his healing process as Nakano headed home to Japan to continue his therapy.

Adrian Fernandez, Owner/Driver -- #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Lola/Bridgestone:

* Will be making his ninth Champ Car start on the streets of Surfers Paradise

* Won the Honda Indy 300 in 2000, and also visited the podium in 1999 with a third-place finish

* Best starting position at Surfers Paradise was fourth in 1994

* Has finished over half (52%) of his 50 Champ Car career street course starts in the top 10

* Posted his best street course result of the season at Denver, finishing fourth after qualifying second

On Australia: "Australia is a fantastic event, one which all of us look forward to each year. The fans are great and the atmosphere, coupled with the backdrop of Surfers Paradise, is incredible. My last win was at Surfers two years ago. There hasn't been a two-time winner in Australia, and hopefully we can work on changing that this weekend. We had a difficult time last year, starting 17th after only one clean lap in qualifying due to red flags. Our race strategy didn't pay off and we ended up 19th. We have had strong runs on the street circuits this season, and we are looking forward to showing what Fernandez Racing can do this weekend."

FAST FACTS: Will be making his 161st Champ Car career start....only owner/driver in current Champ Car field....currently ranked sixth among active drivers in career wins with seven....two of his seven Champ Car career wins were on street circuits - Australia (2000) and Toronto (1996)....currently sits 14th in the championship with 59 points.

Shinji Nakano, Driver -- #52 Alpine/Mitsuba Honda/Lola/Bridgestone:

* Will be making his third Champ Car appearance in Surfers Paradise * Finished 12th in the Honda Indy 300 last year after starting 18th * Recorded career-best Champ Car performances at street course events this season, qualifying third at Denver and finishing fourth in Toronto * Has 16 Champ Car career street course starts to his credit, claiming seven points-paying finishes

On Australia: "I love the Surfers Paradise circuit and, with the atmosphere around the race and the weather, it is one of our best events. It is a long track - the longest street circuit that we run on - and it is challenging with the long straights and the chicanes. We have had good cars on the street circuits this year, but the last three races have not been very good for us. [Nakano did not finish the past three events after suffering a mechanical problem in Denver, contact during the Rockingham race and a fuel fire in Miami.] Hopefully, things will turn around for us this weekend and we can finish the season with strong results."

FAST FACTS: Will be making his 54th career Champ Car start ....is in his third season of Champ Car competition, and second year with Fernandez Racing....currently sits 16th in the championship with 43 points.

Fernandez Racing Team News:

Dave Watson Joins Fernandez Racing
Former Sigma Autosport chief engineer Dave Watson has joined Fernandez Racing for the final three events of the 2002 season, and will serve as race engineer for Adrian Fernandez. Watson handled race-engineering duties for Max Papis and Oriol Servia during his tenure at Sigma Autosport, a team that ceased operations after five races this season. Prior to joining Sigma in 2000, Watson was the chief engineer at Mo Nunn Racing and the race engineer for Tony Kanaan. He began his Champ Car career with Lola Cars International Ltd., and moved to Team Rahal in 1996 as an aerodynamicist and race engineer. Watson hails from England, and his extensive Formula One background includes both aerodynamicist and design engineer positions.

Track Talk
Chris Finch, assistant race engineer for Fernandez, estimates a top speed of 190 mph and a minimum speed of 35 mph around the picturesque circuit through the streets of Surfers Paradise. Finch acknowledges the uniqueness of the 11-turn, 2.795-mile layout: "Surfers' characteristics are similar to the other street circuits we race on but it definitely has its own style. Long straights are interrupted by chicanes with large curbing. Drivers seeking the ultimate lap time will have to utilize these to the full extent. >From an engineering standpoint, you need to give the driver a well-balanced car that can ride the curbs."

Fernandez Racing Team Stats
Since entering the CART FedEx Championship Series in 2001, Fernandez Racing, headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., has claimed two pole positions and three podiums. The team has posted seven top-five finishes and 19 top-10 finishes in 35 races contested to date.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Max Papis , Adrian Fernandez , Tony Kanaan , Oriol Servia , Shinji Nakano , Mo Nunn