IRL: St. Pete: SAFR, Kosuke Matsuura preview

Matsuura Banking on Experience for Inaugural Street Race Kosuke Matsuura is one driver looking to put past experience into play this weekend as the IRL IndyCar® Series prepares to host its first-ever street course race -- the Honda Grand Prix...

Matsuura Banking on Experience for Inaugural Street Race

Kosuke Matsuura is one driver looking to put past experience into play this weekend as the IRL IndyCar® Series prepares to host its first-ever street course race -- the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. Florida's fourth-largest city will provide a scenic backdrop for the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit set in the heart of St. Petersburg's downtown waterfront.

With the exception of his IndyCar Series competition, Matsuura's entire racing career has been centered on turning both right and left. His last run on a street circuit was in 2003, along the tight and twisty avenues of Monte Carlo, Monaco, while contesting the Renault V6 Eurocup Championship.

Matsuura displayed his road-racing abilities in the IndyCar Series' first road course Open Test in January, claiming the eighth-quickest time overall. He will get one more chance to brush up on his technique tomorrow when Super Aguri Fernandez Racing participates in a one-day manufacturer's test at Sebring International Raceway.

* Last competed in an open-wheel street course event in 2003, at Monaco in the Formula Renault V6 Eurocup Championship

* Was eighth-quickest overall in the IndyCar Series road course Open Test at Homestead

* Currently sits 12th in the championship standings, only four points outside the top 10

* Finished 10th at the last race in Phoenix

Kosuke Matsuura, #55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz/Honda/Firestone:

"I am very excited to race in St. Petersburg, which is the first street-course race for the series. I have been racing on road courses for most of my career so I have experience, but this is the first race with these cars so I am not 100 percent sure what to expect. I just need to keep my concentration and do my best in the race. Since it is the Honda Grand Prix, I would like to get a good result. This would also help me to carry a lot of momentum into the next event, my home race in Japan."

KOSUKE MATSUURA FAST FACTS: Enters his second season of IndyCar Series competition-- is the 2004 Bombardier Rookie of the Year-- also earned Bank One Rookie of the Year honors at the Indianapolis 500-- recorded his IndyCar Series career-best finish of fourth at Kentucky Speedway last season, and claimed his career-best starting position of second at Michigan-- 25 years old from Aichi, Japan-- finished third in the 2003 Formula Renault V6 Eurocup Championship with three wins and eight podiums-- finished second in German F3 competition in 2002 with two wins and six pole positions-- won the 2000 Japanese Formula Dream Championship with six wins and eight pole positions-- currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana.

-safr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Kosuke Matsuura