CHAMPCAR/CART: Da Matta among fastest at Laguna Seca test

MONTEREY, Calif. (February 16, 2001) --- Texaco/Havoline Newman/Haas driver Cristiano da Matta completed a two day test at Laguna Seca Raceway late yesterday and was among the fastest at the test the majority of the two day session that was ...

MONTEREY, Calif. (February 16, 2001) --- Texaco/Havoline Newman/Haas driver Cristiano da Matta completed a two day test at Laguna Seca Raceway late yesterday and was among the fastest at the test the majority of the two day session that was attended by approx. one-half of the CART field. Two more tests are scheduled for Newman/Haas Racing prior to the CART FedEx Championship Series 2001 season-opener on March 11 in Monterrey, Mexico.

"There were 13 cars running on Wednesday and it was almost like an open test," said da Matta. "We ran 75 laps (170 miles) in sunny conditions although it was pretty cool especially for the Brazilians. We were right on the pace on Wednesday and were pretty happy. On Thursday we tested all different types of things and were again among the fastest most of the day, especially during the heat of the day. At the end of the day everyone treated it like we were qualifying but we were still trying new things and were not in our fastest trim so we dropped down in the rank. Helio (Castroneves) pretty much set the pace. We completed almost 350 miles over the two days and did an 8.0 and are pretty happy with the things we learned."


Crisiano da Matta Photo by Dan Boyd

"The car ran reliably during the test and the team continued to get more practice at hot pit stops with the new rules," added Brian Lisles, who was promoted from Senior Race Engineer to General Manager in January 2001. "At the end of the day on Thursday when everyone was posting their fastest times, we were not in our best configuration so we dropped down in the order. We could not compare ourselves to the others at the end of the day but we learned quite a bit from the test. A number of the other teams were practicing their pit stops and we looked very good in comparison to them as well. Overall the test served its purpose."

After Christian Fittipaldi returns from his honeymoon on Sunday, February 18 he will travel to Sebring International Raceway for a two-day day test between February 20-22 before heading west for Phoenix International Raceway to test on Feb. 26-27. Da Matta will run on Wednesday, February 28 in Phoenix before both drivers travel to Torrance, Calif. for the annual Motorsports Day at Toyota's U.S. base in Torrance, Calif. on Friday, March 2.

"I like driving the racecar in testing but I am ready to start the season and see how we stack up with the other teams," said da Matta, who was leaving from California to spend one last week in his home country of Brazil before the start of the season. "It's like the feeling you would get when you were starting at a new school. I am looking forward to getting my season with Newman/Haas started."

The 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series season opener will take place on March 11 in Monterrey, Mexico. The series will hold 21 races in seven countries around the world in 2001.

Newman-Haas.co
FITTIPALDIonline.com
damatta.com (Portuguese only)

-NHR-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Christian Fittipaldi , Cristiano da Matta