Team Player's Testing Program Off To An Encouraging Start As Alex Tagliani Puts In Productive Sessions At Sebring

Sebring, Florida, December 6, 2001 Off-season work began in earnest for Team Player's on the 1.72-mile Sebring road course as Alex Tagliani completed a two-day session on Thursday that Team Player's technical director Bruce Ashmore described as "a productive session to get us into the testing mode."

Team Player's had the entire circuit to itself as Tagliani put in 80 laps during the first day of testing and almost as many on Day 2, although some of the laps were run in the rain. Tagliani drove the 2001 Player's Reynard, which was equipped with the new Ford-Cosworth engine and new engine components incorporating the 34-inch boost that is mandatory under 2002 CART regulations. The car also had a new 7-speed gearbox, new brakes and new dampers. Team Player's, which is expected to receive the 2002 Player's Reynard next week, used its 2001 aerodynamic setups.

"I'm very happy with the way things went this first time out," said Tagliani, who clocked a 51.9-second fast lap. "We were able to try out a lot of new things and that's what sessions like this are for. Physically, I feel great. I've been training hard in the off-season and when I got into the car, it felt like I hadn't missed a beat. The tendinitis that bothered me at the end of the season has cleared up. If there was anything wrong I would have felt it during the testing sessions because the 7-speed gearbox we were testing gave my wrist a good workout."

Ashmore said the two-day session laid some solid groundwork for the 2002 car that Team Player's will start using at its next testing session, when Tagliani's teammate Patrick Carpentier will take to the same Sebring road layout, on December 18-19.

"These last two days were important in that they enabled us to really get things underway for our off-season testing program," added Ashmore. "Alex came to the session really focused on what he had to do. Following the solid CART season he had in 2001, he has an air of confidence about him, and that was evident in the testing sessions."

The Sebring road circuit will also be the site of Team Player's next three testing sessions. Ashmore said the fact Team Player's is putting a major emphasis on road courses in off-season testing is not a coincidence.

"To win the CART championship, you have to be consistently good on road courses," explained Ashmore. "That is where we are putting our focus. We did the same thing last year in testing and it showed up in our results during the 2001 season because we were very competitive in the road-course events."