CHAMPCAR/CART: 1999 Testing Update 98-11-25

(November 25, 1998) -- Mauricio Gugelmin and PacWest Racing enjoyed a productive three-day shakedown of its first 1999 Reynard chassis Nov. 18-20 at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway. Gugelmin (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes) ran 600 miles with the...

(November 25, 1998) -- Mauricio Gugelmin and PacWest Racing enjoyed a productive three-day shakedown of its first 1999 Reynard chassis Nov. 18-20 at Sebring (Fla.) International Raceway. Gugelmin (Hollywood PacWest Mercedes) ran 600 miles with the new chassis and reported no problems. He also ran his best time - 51.6 seconds unofficially - on the final day and departed Sebring with confidence.

"It's very encouraging to have such a successful first test," Gugelmin said. "We're basically learning all we can about the new car. We kept it simple, but looked at a lot of things. I'm very optimistic. There's potentially a lot more to come. At least I know I have a car that I can use the brakes to attack corners rather than a car that wants to attack me." PacWest Racing was the first Champ Car team to have the opportunity to test its 1999 Reynard chassis.

Team KOOL Green and Paul Tracy completed its first test session for the upcoming 1999 FedEx Championship Series season Nov. 17-18 at the Miami-Dade Homestead (Fla.) Motorsports Complex's 1.502-mile oval. Tracy, who was participating in a Firestone tire test, managed only three laps on the first day due to rain, but was able to run 226 laps the second day in a 1998 KOOL Reynard Honda. His quickest lap unofficially was 26.38 seconds, just .2 seconds off his qualifying time at the season opener.

"Even though we weren't out there trying to set a fast time, it felt great to be back in the KOOL car and to get some track time," Tracy said. "But it was mainly a tire test so we concentrated on helping Firestone get the data it needs." Team KOOL Green will receive its 1999 Reynard around Dec. 6 and teammate Dario Franchitti is scheduled to test the new car Dec. 11-12 on the Homestead road course.

Patrick Carpentier of Player's Forsythe Racing also took in some valuable test time at the same Firestone test. Carpentier was limited to 12 laps on the rainy first day, but rebounded with 200 the second in a 1998 Player's/Indeck Reynard Mercedes. He tested 14 different sets of tires for Firestone. "It was not really a speed test," Carpentier said.

"We were looking for a consistent run. It's important to have a constant speed so we can note the difference in the rubber compounds of the tires." Carpentier's 1999 Reynard is scheduled for a Dec. 12 arrival and he is planning to test it the following week at Firebird International Raceway, outside Phoenix.

PPG-Dayton Indy Lights graduate Naoki Hattori, who will compete as a rookie in the 1999 FedEx Championship Series season, made his debut Nov. 17-18 for Walker Racing with a test session at Firebird. In his inaugural appearance in a Champ Car, Hattori ran 400 miles on the 1.21-mile road course over the two days in a 1998 Reynard/Honda/Goodyear package. His best lap time was 44.3 seconds as compared to the 43.6 that new teammate Gil de Ferran ran in the same package during a test at Firebird in August.

"Before I drove a Champ Car, I was a bit nervous because it's different than Indy Lights, more power, bigger engine, different tires. Basically, everything is different," Hattori said. "However, after I started driving everything felt very comfortable. Control and speed is much more difficult than in a Lights car, but I can do it." Added team owner Derrick Walker: "Naoki did very well for his first real test in a Champ Car. We were very pleased by his approach to the test. He was very focused and worked on improving his times." Walker plans to have Hattori put in 3,000 miles of testing before the season-opening Marlboro Grand Prix of Miami Presented by Toyota on March 21 at Homestead.

Source: CART Online

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Mauricio Gugelmin , Naoki Hattori