CHAMPCAR/CART: This Week in Ford Racing, April 13, 1999

THIS WEEK IN FORD RACING Tuesday, April 13, 1999 CART FedEx Championship Series Adrian Fernandez' win in Japan propelled Ford to the top of a very tight manufacturers championship fight. Two races in to the 1999 FedEx Championship series...

THIS WEEK IN FORD RACING Tuesday, April 13, 1999

CART FedEx Championship Series

Adrian Fernandez' win in Japan propelled Ford to the top of a very tight manufacturers championship fight. Two races in to the 1999 FedEx Championship series Ford, Honda and Mercedes have been represented on the podium proving that 1999 is shaping up to be one of the most competitive seasons in recent memory.

With the series shifting back state-side, this weekend's Long Beach Grand Prix will be the first opportunity for the teams to race the cars in road course trim and gives the manufacturers yet another opportunity to show just how hard they worked during the off-season. Ian Bisco, vice president, Cosworth Racing explained the differences in preparing an engine for a road course, the challenges it possess and how he feels confident that the engine performance advantage that Fernandez had in Motegi will pay greater dividends to the Ford-Cosworth powered teams in Long Beach, Calif.

IAN BISCO, VICE PRESIDENT, COSWORTH RACING -- AFTER TWO OVALS, THIS IS GOING TO BE THE FIRST ROAD COURSE THAT THE CART SERIES WILL VISIT IN 1999. HOW WILL THE ENGINES THAT WE HAVE SEEN POWER THE CARS ON THE OVALS DIFFER FROM THE ONES THAT WILL POWER THE CARS IN LONG BEACH? "The engine itself is exactly the same. The only changes that we would make on the engine would be in the areas of software and programming functions. You need more driveability for instance on a road course. You need to adjust things like that and make sure that you are getting the most out of your mileage at lower RPMs. Those are the things that make the difference in the race when you are on a road course. The work we have done over the winter has not only improved the top-end of the engine but substantially through the mid-range as well giving us a much broader power band. Much of the pre-season testing that we have been doing at tracks like Sebring, Firebird and Phoenix has shown a great improvement and the drivers have been extremely complimentary about the increased performance of the engine. I have to say that we are very excited to be going to Long Beach. Typically, Long Beach has not been a very kind track to us so maybe we can break the jinx this year."

WHAT SPECIAL CHALLENGES DOES LONG BEACH POSE FROM AN ENGINE PERFORMANCE AND SETUP STANDPOINT? "The extremes that the engine has to work under at Long Beach is unlike anywhere else. Specifically, we have one of the slowest corners in the series at Long Beach. The hair pin before you come on to the front straight can task an engine and bring your RPM's, in some instances, to as low as 4,000 - 5,000 RPM so your engine has to pick up and really respond to be able to pull you up through the higher RPM's really quickly and smoothly. You don't want violent power that's going to break the wheels loose and cause you to loose speed. The way the power has to come on need to be nice and progressive."

THE MID-RANGE POWER OF THIS YEAR'S FORD-COSWORTH ENGINE WAS A BENEFIT LAST WEEK IN MOTEGI. IS IT GOING TO BE A BENEFIT IN LONG BEACH? "Absolutely, probably even more so. Obviously you are going to using a lot more gears but, the increased power band is going to give us a much wider range (of engine RPM) to operate in much like to did in Motegi. It's also going o give us a better fuel consumption rate. We have worked very hard to work on conserving fuel without sacrificing horsepower. I think that not only in qualifying and practice will you see these improvements at work, but in the race as well."

LONG BEACH IS IN THE BACKYARD OF THREE OF THE FOUR ENGINE MANUFACTURERS COMPETING IN THE FEDEX CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES (FORD, HONDA, AND TOYOTA). HOW IMPORTANT IS IT TO WIN AT LONG BEACH? "I think for our company and the employees that work there, which is about 52 in the Torrance, Calif. office, to win in Long Beach would be extremely satisfying. It's really good for morale and helps the employees and gives them some satisfaction in a job well done. As I said before, let's break the jinx."

AT THE END OF LAST YEAR AND IN THE FIRST TWO RACES IN 1999 FORD-COSWORTH POWERED TEAMS CONSISTENTLY TOP THE TRAP SPEEDS. WHAT DO TRAP SPEEDS SAY ABOUT AN ENGINE? "Those trap speeds are really a measure of horsepower. Obviously the car had to be able to put the power down and get some grip so it is a tribute to the teams running our engine. But at the end of the day you still have to get from A to B and of your speed at B is high you can be pretty satisfied that you have got the horsepower to work with . I think the general feeling throughout the paddock in talking with the teams and drivers is that most of the other teams and drivers feel that we have the power to beat."

THE FORD FORMULA ONE ENGINE HAD A REALLY GOOD RUN IN AUSTRALIA AFTER GETTING OFF TO AN AUSPICIOUS START AND IN BRAZIL RUBENS BARRICHELLO LED FOR QUITE SOME TIME. NOW THAT COSWORTH IS WHOLLY OWNED BY FORD HAS THERE BEEN MUCH CROSS POLLINATION BETWEEN THE TWO PROGRAMS? "Ninety five percent of the design and development of the CART engine is done in the UK Since Cosworth has been bought by Ford the CART program and the F1 program share much more information. Yes, the new engine that the Stewart team is running in Formula One employs a lot of new areas and design that has been implemented in that engine and it is fair to say the CART program will see a lot of that technology."

HAVE ANY OF THE GAINS MADE IN THE CART PROGRAM THIS SEASON ATTRIBUTED TO THE INCREASED COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE TWO PROGRAMS? "A little, but it will be more evident next year."

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez