SEBRING, Fla., (February 4, 2003) - Newman/Haas Racing's newest shoe Sebastien Bourdais ( ...
SEBRING, Fla., (February 4, 2003) - Newman/Haas Racing's newest shoe Sebastien Bourdais (#2 Newman/Haas Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) had a typical rookie outing during the first day of Champ Car Spring Training Tuesday at Sebring International Raceway, making huge gains and leading the field at beginning - and then finding his limit and ending his day in the tire barrier.
"We got a good baseline and had a good day, but I have already tested here in this car so it wasn't that big of a surprise to be fast," said Bourdais. "It got cooler later in the day and the car seems to be very sensitive to temperature changes. We didn't get faster as it got colder, I know that."
Bourdais' top lap came as heavy cloud cover rolled into the Sebring area, dousing the bright sunshine that covered the circuit during the first testing session, which was led by Bourdais' teammate Bruno Junqueira (#1 PacifiCare Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). Junqueira topped the first session with a best lap of 51.507 seconds (116.652mph), a time that was bested only by Bourdais and Michel Jourdain Jr. (#9 Gigante Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), who ran in the second session as well and put up a time of 51.407 seconds (116.879mph).
Three other drivers were able to break into the 51-second range on the first day of testing, including Paul Tracy (#3 Player's/Forsythe Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone), Oriol Servia (#20 Visteon Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) and Adrian Fernandez (#51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone). None of them however, would catch the neophyte Frenchman, who used his FIA F3000 experience to get up to speed quickly.
"In F3000 you don't have any practice time, you just go out and qualify, so I am used to jumping in the car and going fast," Bourdais said. "The cars here are more fun to drive and I don't think it has been any big deal to adapt to them so far."
Aside from the rookie Bourdais, American Spirit Team Johansson's Ryan Hunter-Reay (#31 ASTJ Ford-Cosworth/Reynard/Bridgestone) was the quickest first-year driver on the circuit today, turning the 13th-best time of the day. Twenty cars took times on the day as Servia and Jourdain each took the opportunity to test each of their backup machines.
Spring Training will continue with the second of three on-track testing days, with cars on track at 9 a.m. as the teams and drivers of the Champ Car World Series continue their preparations for the February 23rd season opener in St. Petersburg.