With his debut in Mexico, Alex Garcia became the first Venezuelan driver to compete in the CART Toyota Atlantic Series. Immersed in an ambitious program along with series newcomers, Transnet Racing, the driver from Caracas finished his inaugural...
With his debut in Mexico, Alex Garcia became the first Venezuelan driver to compete in the CART Toyota Atlantic Series. Immersed in an ambitious program along with series newcomers, Transnet Racing, the driver from Caracas finished his inaugural race in torrential rainy conditions on the winding and slippery track in Monterrey. One month later, he earned his first Championship point of the season at the Toyota Long Beach Grand Prix in California.
After these first driving experiences of the series, Garcia was extremely positive. "I feel great", said Garcia. "Toyota Atlantic is a very competitive series and I am happy to be a part of it."
What do you feel are the positives and negatives you have encountered so far in these first races?
"The positive has to be the way we have come together as a team in such a short period of time and how quickly we were able to do as much as we have done. The negative is not having had the time to prepare better. Our team was the result of a very late deal getting put together, but we are all working very hard to get over the initial hump of being a new team with a rookie driver".
Transnet Racing, although not yet six months old, has obtained its first point of the series. What lessons have you learned? What are your strengths?
"Our biggest lesson has been the fact that this is a team effort and we have learned to work with each other very quickly. We got thrown to the wolves as a new team with new personnel and even though we all have quite a bit of experience in our own right, it was a challenge to effectively put all of our efforts together in such a short time".
Races are scheduled in June practically one right after the other. How do you prepare yourself? How does the Transnet Racing team prepare?
"I spend my time preparing physically and mentally and spending time at the kart track driving my shifter kart. I will go to Milwaukee on the 16th and 17th of May for a couple of days of testing at the mile oval. The team is spending endless hours getting our 014-2002 chassis ready for its debut and relocating to our new shop in Atlanta".
Of all the tracks you are scheduled to race in June -- Milwaukee, Laguna, Seca, Portland and Chicago -- are you familiar with any of them? Have you competed on any of them?
"Never. I have not seen any of the tracks where we will race this year. That makes it more of a challenge, but that is OK".
You will be testing the .014 chassis in Milwaukee. What is the difference between the new one and the one you were using for the first two races?
"Aerodynamics is the main thing. The new car is better aerodynamically. Swift actually has wind tunnel data for this car which does not exist for the 008, and if it is accurate, the new car is much better. The gearbox has been improved, too. The old car can pop from first into neutral very easily, making it tough to down shift into first without going too far and hitting neutral. The new car has a lock that won't allow that to happen, plus the gear box has dog-rings with 6 instead of 8 engagement teeth, making it is easier to get the gears engaged, which in turn translates into quicker shifts both up and down. We actually machined teeth off each dog-ring in the 008 car down to a 4-teeth dog-ring set up which makes it quicker and easier, but also very weak which we did not like. At Long Beach we had problems with the gearbox, so we had no choice".
After the two day testing session at Milwaukee on May 16th and 17th, Alex Garcia will be getting behind the wheel again to compete in Milwaukee on June 2nd.