FORSYTHE'S FAB FOUR COME TOGETHER FOR ATLANTIC TEST AT HISTORIC SEBRING SEBRING, Florida -- February 1, 2006 -- The first test of the year in sunny central Florida is usually marked by sunburns and hot laps, but the first meeting of Forsythe...
FORSYTHE'S FAB FOUR COME TOGETHER FOR ATLANTIC TEST AT HISTORIC SEBRING
SEBRING, Florida -- February 1, 2006 -- The first test of the year in sunny central Florida is usually marked by sunburns and hot laps, but the first meeting of Forsythe Championship Racing's four young hotshoes at Sebring International Raceway was also a chance for a completely new group of drivers, mechanics and engineers to see how the chemistry of the team is going to jell. And if these first few days together are any indication, the recipe is going to produce a tasty dish as the 2006 Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama revs up for the first green flag of the year at the 32nd running of the fabled Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 7-9.
American Leonardo Maia, Canadian James Hinchcliffe, German Andreas Wirth and Frenchman Richard Philippe all ran quick laps throughout the four on-track test days, but from the outset the focus was on getting to know one another and establishing performance baselines for the team itself as much as the cars. "This was a chance for us to see how we're going to work together," said Team Manager John Brunner. "Having dinner together in the evenings may have been more important than the time we spent at the track. I'm very pleased with how everyone got along and we definitely seem to be setting the stage for an outstanding team. It seems like we're all old friends already, and that's a good sign. Plus the boys did some very competitive lap times -- icing on the cake!"
The team obtained a pair of Swift 014.a chassis to conduct the test, shared among the four drivers. Swift is producing a new car for the 2006 season, designated the 016.a, powered by a 2.3-liter Cosworth engine producing 300 horsepower. The new car will be released to the teams in March. In addition to the Atlantic test, the team brought along one of their Lola Champ Cars for Andreas Wirth and Richard Philippe to get a glimpse of their 750-horsepower Ford Cosworth future. Wirth and Philippe were selected to drive the Champ Car based on their previous test experience, while Maia and Hinchcliffe will get their taste later in the year.
Maia: "The test went very well. I was up to speed quickly and felt very comfortable in the car. I can't wait to get my hands on the new car! All my teammates are very fast and right away we found that we work very well together. The crew is very professional, hard working, and extremely good at what they do. I was pretty sure Forsythe would put together a great team, and now I know it for a fact. We are going to have a great year!"
Philippe: "The purpose of this test was to get the team members comfortable with one another, along with the drivers. I'm very pleased to be able to say that we've created a very professional and fun environment to work in. James, Andreas, Leo and I all got along very well and we were all fast and competitive. The driver with the most motivation on and off the track is going to take it home this year! I really want to thank Forsythe for the opportunity to drive their Champ Car at this test also. So I'm happy. It was a very good week overall!"
Wirth: "This was a test for the mechanics and engineers as well as the drivers, and I couldn't have imagined it going any better than it did. It seems like we already have that good combination of a high level of professionalism while maintaining a fun atmosphere. When work is that much fun, it's very cool! We had a very good test and everyone seems to genuinely like each other. You never know what to expect going into a new situation but I know we're going to be very, very good. Driving the Forsythe Champ Car was a real treat and I certainly hope I get into that seat again soon, but our focus is on winning the 2006 Atlantic Championship."
Hinchcliffe: "The whole thing went really, really well. We all knew going into it that the test was about team building, and we accomplished that more than I anticipated. It was very rewarding on a number of levels, and on top of it we all were able to post some very quick laps. When we get the new cars and have the opportunity to work with them, I have a feeling we're going to show up in Long Beach with four very fast Swifts. We're all excited and it's beyond words to say how good a team we became right away!"
Forsythe Championship Racing will contest the entire 12-race Atlantic schedule beginning on the downtown streets of Long Beach and ending with a return to one of the most demanding road courses in the world, Road America outside Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. For more information, please visit the official website of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship Presented by Yokohama at www.champcaratlantic.com.