IRL: Yasukawa passes rookie test at Phoenix

PHOENIX, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2003 -- Roger Yasukawa passed the Indy Racing League rookie test Jan. 14 at Phoenix International Raceway during his first test session with Super Aguri Fernandez Racing. Yasukawa, 25, from Los Angeles, is driving...

PHOENIX, Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2003 -- Roger Yasukawa passed the Indy Racing League rookie test Jan. 14 at Phoenix International Raceway during his first test session with Super Aguri Fernandez Racing.

Yasukawa, 25, from Los Angeles, is driving the #55 Panasonic ARTA Dallara/Honda/Firestone for the new team, owned by CART driver Adrian Fernandez and former Formula One driver Aguri Suzuki, during the entire 16-race IRL IndyCar Series season this year.

"It was great, and I am really happy about everything," Yasukawa said of the two-day test. "The main thing was to pass the rookie test, which we accomplished, and to get used to the car and the team and how we work together. The crew did a fantastic job in preparing the car. It was amazing that we had no problems the first day.

"It was a very valuable two days for me. I am getting more comfortable every time I go out. The car is much bigger, and the horsepower is triple what I am used to. The team did a fantastic job in putting the car together and keeping me under control. The car's stability is very good, and I feel very comfortable in the car. The speed was a matter to get used to. The car is a blast to drive, and I am really enjoying it."

Indy Racing League Technical Manager Mark Bridges oversaw the test on the 1-mile desert oval.

"He looked good," Bridges said. "He did real well. He's got good feedback, good car control. He's the real deal. He's serious about it.

"He had good feedback about what the car was doing, and when they made a change, not only could he feel it, but he also went quicker. He was real consistent. I was impressed. He's got some talent."

Yasukawa was the 1999 Barber Dodge Pro Series Rookie of the Year and . finished fourth in the championship in 2001. He graduated to the Toyota. Atlantic series in 2002, earning three top-three finishes, including . a win on the Milwaukee oval. He finished 10th in the standings in a . partial season of competition Fernandez and Suzuki also were on hand to. witness Yasukawa's first laps .

"Roger has a good attitude and works well with (engineer) John (Dick)," Fernandez said. "He is getting used to everything right now -- a new package and a new team. We are going through the steps, and we are not trying to prove anything at the moment. It is a different car than what Roger is used to, and I have given him some input even though I haven't driven this car.

"It has been a productive test. The Honda engine is very good, and the team is looking forward to getting back on track later this week."

Said Yasukawa: "Adrian has definitely given me a lot of tips. He has been a big help to me, and I really want to thank him, as well. This was my first outing with John Dick, and it was a lot of learning for both of us on how to work together. He is doing a great job and is keeping me under control, which is so important on an oval.

"I am really looking forward to working with him this season, and I think we can bring some good results."

The 2003 IRL IndyCar Series season starts with the Toyota Indy 300 on March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Roger Yasukawa , Aguri Suzuki