Besnard Impresses in Arizona Australian V8 Supercar driver David Besnard's quest to compete in a Champ Car in the Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast next month firmed dramatically today after a highly impressive test session in...
Besnard Impresses in Arizona
Australian V8 Supercar driver David Besnard's quest to compete in a Champ Car in the Lexmark Indy 300 on the Gold Coast next month firmed dramatically today after a highly impressive test session in Arizona.
Besnard completed a full day of testing in one of Champ Car veteran Jimmy Vasser's cars and earned applause from the US team for his speed and capacity to immediately adapt to the open wheelers.
Besnard, who drives for Australian businessman Craig Gore's WPS Racing in the Australian V8 Supercar Championship Series, completed about 70 laps in stifling conditions at the Firebird Raceway in Phoenix, Arizona.
His fastest lap times were very competitive with recent times posted at the circuit.
"It was an awesome experience to finally get into a Champ Car," said Besnard.
"I was excited but a little nervous about the unknown. But after two laps I realised it was just another race car, albeit different to what I normally drive.
"I did some good times and was very happy at the end of the day. The team also gave me some excellent feedback and there were high fives and handshakes all round at the end."
Besnard said Jimmy Vasser, who drives for series owner Kevin Kalkhoven's PKV Racing, congratulated him on completion of the session.
"He told me that it appeared I picked it up really quickly," said Besnard.
"Before today I wasn't too sure how I would go if I made the field at the Lexmark Indy 300.
"Now that I've got this first session under my belt I believe that I could be competitive and I would hope to do Queensland proud."
Craig Gore, who with Champ Car series owner Kevin Kalkhoven is seeking to get an Aussie into this year's Gold Coast race, said Besnard's performance today has heightened his confidence that a local driver will compete in the Lexmark Indy 300 from October 21 to 24.
"Obviously today was a great result and I am very proud to say we are moving closer to getting an Australian and, more importantly, a Queenslander into Indy," said Gore.
"There is still a bit of work to do but it was a great effort by PKV Racing to give him the chance to test and, as a result, one would now have to say that Bezzy is a very high chance of being in the field.
"On today's performance I just hope they don't try to steal him from the V8s in the future."
Gore said engineering data from today's test would be analysed by PKV Racing in coming days before a decision on the next move was finalised.
It is anticipated that Besnard will return to the US in October for a second test session to ensure he is adequately prepared for the Lexmark Indy 300.
Besnard was this afternoon resting up after the session and preparing for a long flight back to Australia.
He is due to arrive in Melbourne at 7.30am on Friday, just three hours before he is due out on track for the first practice session as part of this weekend's Betta Electrical Sandown 500, the ninth round of the V8 Supercar Championship Series.
If all goes according to plan Besnard will next fly out to the US immediately after the following V8 Supercar round -- the Bob Jane T-Marts 1000 at Bathurst from October 7-10.
"It is extremely difficult to coordinate these test sessions between the V8 Supercar races but we have the first one completed and everything is looking good," said Gore.
"Bezzy has shown in this test session that it is possible to go from the V8s into the Champ Cars and be competitive, so that gives us greater confidence we can do it again next month."
Josh Hunt, who this year has competed in the Toyota Atlantics Championships in the US with the support of Gore's Wright Patton Shakespeare Financial Group and Kalkhoven, was at the Firebird circuit today to cheer on his 'team mate'.
Hunt, who drives his final race of the 2004 Toyota Atlantics series this weekend, will back up for another season in 2005, again with the support of Gore and Kalkhoven with a view to graduating into Champ Cars in 2006.
Assuming Besnard makes it to the start line at the Lexmark Indy 300, his car will carry the livery of the Wright Patton Shakespeare Financial Group.
Wright Patton Shakespeare has two Ford Falcons in the V8 Supercar series, with Besnard piloting Car 23 and ex-Formula One driver Alex Yoong piloting Car 48.
Besnard will compete in this weekend's Sandown event with co-driver Neil McFadyen from Sydney, while Yoong's partner will be Kiwi ace John McIntyre.