CHAMPCAR/CART: Brands Hatch: Patrick Racing preview

Visteon/Patrick Racing has advantage over competition at Brands Hatch. JACKSON, MI - - APRIL 25, 2003 - - When the 2003 CART World Series, presented by Bridgestone and powered by Ford, takes to the track on Brands Hatch's short circuit May 3-5,...

Visteon/Patrick Racing has advantage over competition at Brands Hatch.

JACKSON, MI - - APRIL 25, 2003 - - When the 2003 CART World Series, presented by Bridgestone and powered by Ford, takes to the track on Brands Hatch's short circuit May 3-5, in Kent, England, Visteon/Patrick Racing will have several advantages over the competition.

Most prominent among the advantages is that the Chief Mechanic on the car that won the USAC event held on the 1.2-mile Brands Hatch short course in 1978 was Visteon/Patrick Racing General Manager Jim McGee. McGee, in his 44th year of open wheel competition, has the most wins of any Chief Mechanic/Manager in USAC/CART history with 89. His wealth of knowledge has been a major factor in the success of Patrick Racing for many years and his previous experience at Brands Hatch will provide Visteon/Patrick Racing with an edge at the upcoming race.

Predictably, McGee downplayed any significant advantage, but acknowledged that having raced at Brands Hatch in the past will provide some insight.

"It has been such a long time since we raced at Brands Hatch so any data we may still have is inconsequential," McGee said. "It is the same circuit we ran in 1978, but the surface has changed and the cars we compete with today are completely different," he explained. "Having said that, certainly, there are a few things you learn about a circuit whenever you race," McGee noted. "There is no other track in the CART Series that is like the Brands Hatch short course, so it presents some special problems. Getting the setup right will be key as well as pit stops and strategy. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team spent three days testing in Arizona specifically to get ready for Brands Hatch and Germany. We tried a lot of different things and have come up with a lot of good ideas for these races. With the new rules for the European races you have to compromise the setup for both circuits," McGee concluded.

Another factor in Visteon/Patrick Racing's favor is that the team's Director of Operations, Steve Krisiloff, competed for Patrick Racing at Brands Hatch in 1978. Krisiloff qualified his car 12th, but had to switch to another team's backup car for the race. The backup car immediately developed mechanical problems, so

Krisiloff did not start the race. However, his track time gave him some knowledge of the proper racing line and how cars in general react to specific aerodynamic changes.

Krisiloff, who also serves as Visteon/Patrick Racing's spotter and driving coach said, "The Brands Hatch short course we ran on in 1978 was very challenging. It was difficult to get the setup right and that will be the biggest issue for the teams. When you have a circuit that is short, it is especially important to qualify up front. You cant' afford to get caught behind a slow car and get lapped by the leader."

Lending to Visteon/Patrick Racing's overall effort at Brands Hatch is the fact that driver Oriol Servia will be able to visit with, and race in front of, his family and friends, who will travel from Barcelona, Spain.

"I am looking forward to racing at Brands Hatch," Servia began. "I drove the Formula One track in 1993 in a Formula Renault and even though we will not be racing on that circuit, to be competing at one of the most famous racing venues in the world will be very exciting," he said. "What is going to make the Brands Hatch race really special is that it will be like a home race for me. I have a lot of friends coming from Barcelona and it will be great to see everyone."

Servia, who pilots the #20 Visteon/Patrick Racing entry, which is powered by Ford-Cosworth and uses a Lola chassis and Bridgestone tires, has consistently, been among the leaders at the first three races of the 2003 season. However a series of unfortunate incidents have conspired to deny him of a podium finish. Servia has qualified in the top-10 at all three events (ninth - St. Petersburg, fourth - Monterrey, eighth - Long Beach). The streak of consecutive top-10 qualifying positions is his CART career high. He has finished in the points in two of the three races placing 12th at St. Petersburg and Long Beach.

"This is an important race for the Visteon/Patrick Racing Team," Servia noted. "We have been very quick and in a position to score big points in the first three races of the season, but we just haven't had things go our way. Sometimes that happens in racing," he said. "I am confident heading into the London Champ Car Trophy race. The Visteon/Patrick Racing Team had a very good test in Arizona and learned a lot of things that should help us at Brands Hatch. It is very important that we have a good result in England so we can get back into the championship hunt. It is just a matter of continuing to work had and I am sure we will start scoring the points we feel we deserve," Servia concluded.

Brands Hatch will be run on Monday, May 5, at 1:00 PM in England. It will be televised tape delayed on CBS on Saturday, May 10, at 1:00 PM (ET). CBS will air a pre-race show on Sunday, May 4 at 12:00 PM (ET).

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Oriol Servia