FORSYTHE ATLANTIC TEAM WRAPS UP PRE-SEASON TESTING AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY FONTANA, California -- March 25, 2006 -- As the clock winds down to the April 7-9 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the opening event of the 2006 racing season, ...
FORSYTHE ATLANTIC TEAM WRAPS UP PRE-SEASON TESTING AT CALIFORNIA SPEEDWAY
FONTANA, California -- March 25, 2006 -- As the clock winds down to the April 7-9 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the opening event of the 2006 racing season, anticipation and excitement within the Forsythe Championship Racing Atlantic Team is building rapidly. This week the team concluded a final preseason test on the California Speedway infield road course in Fontana with its four young pilots joining 25 of the other hotshoes competing in the talent-rich field this season as Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.
The two-day test opened with a damp track and unseasonably cold Southern California weather as the Atlantic Championship debuted its new chassis and engine combination, the Swift 016.a powered by a 300hp Mazda-Cosworth 2.3-liter four-cylinder engine, but the second day warmed up and provided the teams with a range of conditions to evaluate the new package. Combined with high performance Yokohama Advan racing slicks, the car proved to be fast and surprisingly trouble-free as all the teams set about gathering baseline data and learning the mechanical, aerodynamic and functional character of the new car. The consensus was a solid "five thumbs up" from Team Forsythe and its 2006 driver lineup of Canadian James Hinchcliffe, American Leonardo Maia, Frenchman Richard Philippe and German Andreas Wirth.
"The test went very well", commented Atlantic Team Manager John Brunner. "We expected to run into issues with the new car but the only significant thing we encountered was a harmonic vibration issue that caused a couple of aerodynamic brackets to start giving up at the very end of the second day. Hopefully that can easily be corrected. Swift, Cosworth, Yokohama and Pi (Electronics) all had a lot of people running around helping keep things on track and we can't thank them enough. We told our guys going in that we weren't looking for qualifying laps. We wanted long, consistent runs with average fuel loads and tire wear that allowed us to find race setups that work and get a handle on the little preferences that each driver has in everything from control positions and cockpit padding to the fundamental balance of the car. The most important part of learning a new car is gathering as much useful data as possible, and we achieved that. We also continued to solidify our team since this was the first test where we had a complete roster. We're gathering data on our people and teamwork as much as on the cars!"
James Hinchcliffe (#3 Emexis/INDECK Mazda-Cosworth/Yokohama/Swift 016.a): "It was a good two days. We learned a whole lot and that's what we were here for. It was unfortunate that we experienced a few little problems here at the end of the second day when it was really time to lay it down, but we ended up with third quickest time and we learned what's going to break so we're in a better position for Long Beach. The guys worked so hard over the last weeks getting the new cars prepped and detailed out and then did such a great job here, I can't thank them enough. You see the operation with all four cars in the top half of the time sheets and that's what we do; that's how we roll, so bring on Long Beach!" Hinchcliffe ended the test with the third fastest lap overall - 58.396s/92.164mph, less than a tenth of a second off the quickest time.
Andreas Wirth (#37 INDECK/Wirth Solar Mazda-Cosworth/Yokohama/Swift 016.a): "A good test, but I ended the second day pretty disappointed. The last two sessions just as I went out on track to try to put down a quick lap I had red flags come out to stop the session! All four of us had issues in the final session, mechanical things for Hinch and Leo, but Richard and I had our own bad luck with the red flags. I think I was going to be very quick on fresh tires, but we are good. It's too bad I didn't get to do any maximum attack laps while the track was at its optimum; those are so much fun and what a driver dreams about. The new car is fun to drive, but I'm going to have to get better gloves (holding up his blistered hands). The car is very physical, much more like a Champ Car than the old Atlantic car due to all the extra downforce. The cornering speed is much higher, but I love it!" Wirth scored the seventh quickest time -- 58.630s/91.796mph.
Leonardo Maia (#7 INDECK Mazda-Cosworth/Yokohama/Swift 016.a): "Just a great test and a great car. The Mazda-Cosworth engine is fast and reliable, and the Yokohama tires were grippy and consistent. We got through the test checklist with no major issues, although we had a couple of minor car problems crop up in the very last session. It prevented us from trying out the car on light fuel with fresh tires while the track was primed so I'm not sure the time sheets show our true speed, but nobody scored any points here today so that's not a big concern. I'm confident the guys will go back to the shop in Indy and work their magic on these little problems and we'll be in Long Beach with bulletproof cars. The team environment is fun, relaxed and geared to win -- I'm pumped!" Maia had the eighth fastest time -- 58.632s/91.793mph.
Richard Philippe (#33 INDECK Mazda-Cosworth/Yokohama/Swift 016.a): "We pretty much took it easy for this test. It was a lot of learning for me and for the team. Like the other guys I was ready to try to go for some times at the end of the day today when track conditions were just about perfect but sometimes a red flag can come out at a bad time. We actually had red flags in both of my last two sessions just as I was doing my warm up laps! Unfortunate, but it's not a big deal since we accomplished our goals and got better as a team. I'm sure we'll be fast at Long Beach. After seeing how many really quick guys there are out there today I can tell you it's going to be a great season in Atlantic and the fans are going to be in for some fantastic races!" Philippe ended the test with the eleventh quickest time -- 58.778s/91.565mph, less than half a second from P1 as one second blanketed the top 19 cars.
The Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will launch its 32nd annual event on the weekend of April 7-9. A large grid of fast cars and drivers is expected for the Sunday morning race as Yokohama Presents the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda. The event will be broadcast on a tape-delayed basis by Speed TV at 1pm ET on Sunday, April 16th. For more information, please visit the official Atlantic website at www.champcaratlantic.com.