Ladder System drivers impress in Champ Car testing. (Chandler, Arizona) December 2, 2002-Several Barber Dodge Pro Series alumni got the opportunity to test a Champ Car this week at Firebird Speedway in Arizona as part of the development program...
Ladder System drivers impress in Champ Car testing.
(Chandler, Arizona) December 2, 2002-Several Barber Dodge Pro Series alumni got the opportunity to test a Champ Car this week at Firebird Speedway in Arizona as part of the development program for the 2003 CART season, which will see the entire field powered by the same Cosworth XFE powerplant. For CART, placing the Ladder System drivers in the tests is a good way to give these drivers the chance of a lifetime while completing vital work towards the 2003 system. Veteran racer Roberto Moreno participated in the first three days of the test to provide a baseline suspension set up, and then the young guns were each let loose to generate as many miles as possible on the engine. The data generated will now be utilized by the Ford engineers to finalize the engine configuration for next season.
All of the drivers who participated in the test had run at least one season in the Barber Dodge Pro Series on their way up the ladder, and all of the drivers are hoping that this is just their first taste of this kind of power and performance. 2002 Toyota Atlantic Champion Jon Fogarty, 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series Champion AJ Allmendinger, Toyota Atlantic race winners Rocky Moran, Jr. and Ryan Hunter Reay as well as Alex Gurney all took the wheel of a Dale Coyne-prepared Lola-Cosworth for nearly a day each of testing.
To a man, all the young guns were really excited about the opportunity to drive a Champ Car. Ryan Hunter-Reay, who took four wins in just his first year of Toyota Atlantic competition, was impressed by the capabilities of the Champ Car.
"It's almost difficult to describe driving the car. It was the most fun I have ever had in my life. There is nothing like it, but having moved up from karting into the Barber Dodge car and then to Atlantics, I think I was well prepared for this test. I felt good in the car and was able to put together a lot of consistent laps, which I think is important, especially in testing," said Hunter-Reay, the 2000 Barber Dodge Rookie of the Year and 1999 Big Scholarship winner.
Hunter-Reay, who is hoping to finalize his plans to ascend into Champ Cars next season in the coming weeks, was thankful for the opportunity to take the wheel of a Champ Car.
"Its great that CART did this for us Ladder System guys. Getting a chance like this shows how much faith they have in our talent, and I really appreciate getting to do it. I just can't wait to get back into one," added Hunter-Reay.
Dale Coyne, who has a long history of working with young talent, was on hand to oversee the test, and he was deeply impressed by all the drivers and believes they all have the talent to make it at the highest level of competition.
"The test went really well, we got the mileage out of the engine that we were looking for, and the guys did a really good job on track," said Coyne. "This is a big step up in power for these guys, since what we are running is only about 50 horsepower down from before, but the guys did a fine job. The drivers were all close to Roberto's times even though they each only had one day in the car. All of them we would be proud to have in Champ Cars and they all have good reason to be optimistic about the test and about their careers ahead of them."
Rocky Moran, Jr., who moved from Barber Dodge into Toyota Atlantic competition in 1999, was really impressed with the limits of a Champ Car.
"It was awesome to get behind the wheel of the Champ Car," said Moran. "The biggest thing to adjust to was the power-down characteristics of the car. In the corners, it was comparable to an Atlantic car, although it rolls more in the rear end. You had to be patient going back to power, had to be really smooth. This was a great opportunity for us Ladder System guys to get this kind of chance. I am really hoping I can put my program together for 2003 now that I have had this experience," said Moran.
Moran thinks that the changes that CART has made to the cars will have a direct effect on improving the racing for the fans and providing more overtaking.
"Without traction control, there is much more input from the driver. It's going to be easier to pressure someone into making a mistake. I believe that the racing will be better than with traction control and with so many new opportunities available in CART, this season is going to be a great opportunity for the Ladder System guys to make the step up," he added.
These young drivers are all hoping that this will be the first of many opportunities to run in a Champ Car.