CHAMPCAR/CART: Fittipaldi runs one of quickest times at Sebring test

Second day of testing 2002 Toyota Lola ends well for Fittipaldi and Newman/Haas Racing at Sebring International Raceway SEBRING, Fla. (January 21, 2002) --- Christian Fittipaldi completed the second day of testing Newman/Haas Racing's 2002 ...

Second day of testing 2002 Toyota Lola ends well for Fittipaldi and Newman/Haas Racing at Sebring International Raceway

SEBRING, Fla. (January 21, 2002) --- Christian Fittipaldi completed the second day of testing Newman/Haas Racing's 2002 Toyota-powered Lola chassis on the 1.65-mile road course at Sebring International Raceway today and was happy with the progress of the car since the initial test on Jan. 11. The team is in the midst of preparation for the 2002 CART FedEx Championship after three wins and six podium finishes overall in 2001.

"We made some progress today in terms of knowing what type of set-up the 2002 Toyota Lola needs to be competitive," said Fittipaldi, whose lap time of 51.7 was most likely the quickest of the day. "We were able to work on setting up the car during this test as opposed to just getting to know the car like we did last time."

Not only was the team working on the set-up of the new 2002 Toyota-Lola package but they were also concentrating on making Fittipaldi comfortable with a further-developed version of the HANS (head and neck support) which CART made mandatory on ovals in 2001 and will be mandatory on all types of courses in 2002. Fittipaldi led the development of the device for open-wheel race cars and was the first driver to voluntarily wear the device during CART competition when he raced with the HANS at the Michigan 500 in 2000.

"When I first wore the HANS on a race track it was here at Sebring in 1999 and I could only manage 10 or 11 laps. It took a little work for me to get it where it was comfortable on an oval but I wasn't comfortable with it on a road or street course because you move your head much more and it limited my movement too much but I kept working with Dr. Hubbard. I used the HANS at my test here earlier this month as well as today and haven't had a problem with it. I have to be able to wear it at all races this season - not just because CART mandated it but because it is the right thing to do."

Fittipaldi's new engineer Craig Hampson, 31, was on site for the test and continued to gain valuable knowledge throughout the day while Fittipaldi logged approx. 160 trouble-free miles of testing. Probably the most interested spectator at the test though was teammate Cristiano da Matta, who made his return to a race track for the first time since he scored back-to-back wins in the final two CART FedEx events in Australia and the 500-mile race at The California Speedway. Da Matta will take over testing duties for the following two days.

"I spent a lot of time in Brazil relaxing and training to stay in shape but it is good to get back to work and see everyone focused and ready to go," said da Matta. "I'm ready to pick up where we left off last season. We were strong in the beginning and end of last season but not so good in the middle but it was only our first season together so we have a baseline to work off of this year. I'm looking forward to driving the 2002 Toyota Lola and getting a start on the 2002 CART FedEx Championship."

"We were able to learn much more from today's test than the previous one," added Brian Lisles, General Manager of Newman/Haas Racing. "We worked though all of the new-car teething problems from the first day of testing and today were able to really begin learning what the new car needs. We made several changes to the car and each time we were able to improve the overall balance and grip of the car. Christian's lap time of 51.7 was probably the quickest of the day. We will begin getting Cristiano acclimated to the new car tomorrow and keep working toward defending our win in Monterrey on March 10. The season starts in 48 days and the clock is ticking."

Newman/Haas Racing, owned by actor/race car driver Paul Newman and racing entrepreneur Carl A. Haas, competes in the CART FedEx Championship Series. The team will begin their 20th season in the series in 2002 as the most successful active competitor with 61 race wins and 63 pole positions. For more information log on to www.newman-haas.com, www.texaco.com/racing or www.cart.com. The 2002 CART FedEx Championship Series season kicks off March 10 at Monterrey, Mexico and the 19-race schedule will be broadcast by new television partners, CBS and Fox Cable Networks Group, including Speedvision/Speed Channel.

-NHR-

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