Long Beach, Calif., April 7, 2001 - Qualifying for Walker Racing drivers Tora Takagi and Sarah Fisher took place at opposite ends of the U.S.A. today for the only open-wheel race team in the country that competes on a full-time basis in both the...
Long Beach, Calif., April 7, 2001 - Qualifying for Walker Racing drivers Tora Takagi and Sarah Fisher took place at opposite ends of the U.S.A. today for the only open-wheel race team in the country that competes on a full-time basis in both the Championship Auto Racing Teams Series and the INDY Racing League Series.
Qualifying for Round Two of CART's 2001 race season and Walker Racing's driver Tora took place in Long Beach, California on the 1.968-mile temporary street course through downtown Long Beach, while qualifying for the second race in the IRL Series and driver Sarah was held on the 1.5-mile oval racetrack in Homestead, Florida.
Tora will start in 16th position in the #5 Pioneer/DENSO Special/ Toyota/ Reynard/Firestone car, while Sarah will start 7th in the Walker Racing/Kroger Special/Oldsmobile/Dallara/Firestone machine. The CART qualifying session was split up into two 30-minute sessions at Long Beach, and as a result of Tora's 10th place finish during the first race of the season in Monterrey, Mexico, he was in the second - or faster group of drivers. Late in the first group's qualifying session, rain showers began to fall, forcing the drivers in the second group, including Tora, to start their session on rain tires, which put them at a disadvantage from the first group, who were able to run quicker times on slick tires. However, nine minutes into the second group, the showers stopped and the drivers were able to switch back to slicks, making for an interesting qualifying session that saw many position changes.
In addition, the checkered flag that ended the session was flown just before Tora clocked his quickest time of the day, which would have put him in eighth place on the grid for Sunday's race. Tora's 16th place starting position was gained by a time of 1:10.202 seconds and 100.902 mph, only 1.6-seconds behind the time of the polesitter.
"Coping with the changing track conditions during qualifying was challenging," said Tora. "Although we were only a little more than a second off the qualifying pace, the field is very close, and this is a track where it is not easy to pass cars. The car is handling OK, but we can still make it better during practice on Sunday morning which will help us during the race."
Sarah had a quick qualifying lap on the Homestead oval of 198.313 mph (27.2297 sec.), only 3-tenths of a second off the pace of pole-sitter Jeff Ward.
"The car has been consistently stable all weekend," said Sarah. "We were really good right out of the box here at Homestead. This track is very similar to Las Vegas and doesn't have a lot of traction, so it's important to have a racecar that is really stuck to the track here. We didn't work on qualifying at all until this morning, since our main focus this weekend is race day."
For a full day Walker Racing open-wheel action Sunday, start with Indy Racing 2Day at 10:30 a.m. (ET) on ESPN2, where Sarah will be featured in a special day-in-the- life segment, then switch to ABC at 2 p.m. for the IRL's Infiniti Grand Prix of Miami, and then turn to Tora at 4 p.m. (ET) in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Visit Walker Racing on the World Wide Web at www.walkerracing.com
- Walker Racing