CHAMPCAR/CART: Bridgestone 2003 season preview

Bridgestone primed for primary role in Champ Car World Series. SEBRING, Fla. (Feb. 4, 2003) - When it comes to Champ Car racing in 2003, Bridgestone is literally the first word on the lips of everyone. As a primary sponsor in Bridgestone...

Bridgestone primed for primary role in Champ Car World Series.

SEBRING, Fla. (Feb. 4, 2003) - When it comes to Champ Car racing in 2003, Bridgestone is literally the first word on the lips of everyone. As a primary sponsor in Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford, the tire manufacturer is elated at the prestige that comes with the positioning and eager to take on the additional challenges involved with such status.

"This is the beginning of a very exciting and vital season for the Bridgestone Motorsport program," said Al Speyer, Executive Director of Bridgestone Motorsport, as the Champ Cars begin their annual rite of Spring Training testing at Sebring International Raceway.

"Bridgestone debuted as the Official Tire of CART in 2002, to overwhelming praise from teams, drivers and fans alike," reminded Speyer. "That sensational reception spurred us to become more involved in the Champ Car World Series, and Bridgestone is proud to be the Presenting Sponsor in 2003 as well as retaining Official Tire status. This allows us to further expose fans and consumers to the qualities of the Bridgestone line of tires - both for the racetrack and for the highway - while continuing to supply Potenza racing radials to every entrant in this most demanding championship."

The supply portion begins in earnest at Spring Training, where 18 drivers are expected to participate. Each driver/car entry receives a total of six sets of Potenzas (24 tires) to use over the three-day session. This follows the Jan. 25-26 open test at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Calif., where 12 Champ Cars put the Potenzas through their paces, as well as assorted private team tests over the past month.

All this as teams prepare for the opener to this year's 19-race schedule, the St. Petersburg Grand Prix from Feb. 21-23.

"The Champ Car World Series schedule provides a diverse, challenging array of circuits as always," said Speyer. "Plus, with the addition of venues such as Tampa-St. Pete and Brands Hatch near London, it provides the types of vibrant, pivotal markets important to Bridgestone and its consumer sales associates and dealers. We plan to utilize our status as Presenting Sponsor to activate programs in many of those markets and build even more energy and excitement in the series."

With opening weekend just 17 days away, on-track time for all teams is critical as they dial in their 700-horsepower machines to the optimum set-ups. It's an important reason why Bridgestone engineers selected the same tire specification for Spring Training that will be used on the streets of St. Pete, some 75 miles away.

"Using the same tire spec here as we'll bring to St. Pete helps the drivers, particularly those new to the series, become more familiar with the characteristics of the Potenzas," explained Speyer. "Hopefully, all teams will leave Sebring with an excellent baseline set-up and they can be quick 'off the truck' on that crucial first race weekend."

That forethought is just another indication of the effort and resolve with which Bridgestone Motorsport is approaching its second season of Champ Car competition. The goal, as it was in 2002, is to be regarded as the best supplier in Championship Auto Racing Teams history. And, as they say, we're off and running.

-bridgestone-

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Series IndyCar