Sebring, Florida, February 6, 2003 Patrick Carpentier continued to shave several tenths of a second off his lap times as the three-day CART spring-training session wrapped up Thursday with morning and afternoon testing sessions on the 1.669-mile...
Sebring, Florida, February 6, 2003 Patrick Carpentier continued to shave several tenths of a second off his lap times as the three-day CART spring-training session wrapped up Thursday with morning and afternoon testing sessions on the 1.669-mile Sebring road course. Carpentier clocked his best spring-training lap of 51.141 seconds (117.487 miles per hour) in the second session, recording the fifth fastest lap overall.
Carpentier's teammate Paul Tracy put in the top performance of his practice group in the morning, but he slipped down the leader chart in the day's second session. His efforts to put in a fast lap in the closing minutes of the session were scuttled when his engine gave way. Tracy's top lap was run in 51.545 seconds (116.082 mph), the 12th fastest of the day.
Alex Tagliani, the only other Canadian driver in the series, was 1 one-thousandths of a second behind the time posted by Carpentier. French rookie Sebastien Bourdais set the pace on this final day, touring the track in 50.584 seconds (118.781 mph), just under three-tenths faster than his teammate, Bruno Junqueira.
"The car was definitely better than it's been this week," said Carpentier, who lopped six-tenths of a second off his Wednesday performance. "Still, I would have liked to have gone faster. We know there's still some speed in there, so the times that we put up aren't entirely representative of what the car can do. We might have squeezed more out of it at the end of the afternoon session, but I was pushing too hard and ended up spinning."
Tracy, who used the spring-training session to get acclimatized to his new team and surroundings, played down the significance of the lap times in relation to preparations for the season-opening race in St. Petersburg, Florida, on February 23.
"The track here in Sebring is very different than the street course that we'll be racing on in St. Pete," said Tracy. "By the end of spring training sessions today, the track here had a lot of grip. That isn't likely to be the case in St. Petersburg, where the street course figures to be much slicker. The set-ups that we'll be using in two weeks are nowhere near the same as what we used in Sebring the last three days. But overall, this was a productive spring training for Team Player's to help us mesh as a team."
The race through the streets of St. Petersburg that launches the CART season is a new venue for the series.