CHAMPCAR/CART: Junqueira leads pack as Open Test concludes

MONTEREY, California (January 26, 2003) - After completing two full days of open testing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Bruno Junqueira of Newman/Haas Racing feels the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season is ...

MONTEREY, California (January 26, 2003) - After completing two full days of open testing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Bruno Junqueira of Newman/Haas Racing feels the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season is getting off on the right foot - or more precisely, the left foot.

The 26-year-old Junqueira recorded the top time among all drivers that tested over the weekend at Mazda Raceway with a lap of 69.172 seconds (116.475 mph) in Sunday's afternoon session. The Brazilian emerged in either the first or second position in all four testing sessions over the weekend and the impressive performance came as he spent the entire test trying to adjust his driving style.

"I've always raced while braking with my right foot," said Junqueira. "This year I'm trying to learn to brake with my left foot. I struggled a bit with it (on Saturday) morning, but I'm getting used to it. It may be a small thing, but small things can win races."

Junqueira's unofficial time proved how competitive the new Champ Car racing package will be in 2003 as the mark actually bested the polewinning time set by Champ Car World Series champion Cristiano da Matta for the Newman/Haas team in last June's event at Laguna Seca (da Matta's pole time was 69.473 seconds).

"For sure the team has a good setup here," added Junqueira, who joins Newman/Haas Racing this season after finishing second to da Matta in the race for the Vanderbilt Cup in 2002. "I'm learning a lot about working with the team and we were consistently fast all weekend. This gives us some confidence heading into the year, but it will be a long season."

For the second day in a row the Newman/Haas cars owned the top two positions on the scoring charts as unsigned rookie Sebastien Bourdais had the second-fastest lap of 69.709 seconds (115.578 mph).

Player's/Forsythe Racing teammates Patrick Carpentier and Paul Tracy owned the next fastest overall times with Carpentier carding a lap of 69.712 seconds (115.573 mph) and Tracy producing a top effort of 70.157 seconds (114.840 mph).

Mario Dominguez of the Herdez Competition team came on late in Sunday's final session to grab the fifth-fastest time on the weekend with a lap of 70.194 seconds (114.779 mph). In only his second day testing for the new Rocketsports Racing Champ Car team, Alex Tagliani enjoyed the next fastest time of 70.435 seconds (114.386 mph).

Visteon Patrick Racing's Oriol Servia finished the test in the seventh overall position with a top time of 70.569 seconds (114.169 mph) while Fernandez Racing's Adrian Fernandez owned a best lap of 70.631 seconds (114.069 mph).

Michel Jourdain Jr. of Team Rahal recorded a lap of 70.691 seconds (113.972 mph) while veteran Robert Moreno, testing for Herdez Competition, completed the test's top 10 overall times at 70.809 seconds (113.782 mph).

Dale Coyne Racing's Joel Camathias and Mi-Jack Conquest Racing's Mario Haberfeld - both Champ Car rookies - completed the testing field with Camathias posting a top time of 72.124 seconds (111.708 mph) and Haberfeld producing a lap of 72.415 seconds (111.259 mph).

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca will next see the Champ Cars June 13-15 at the Grand Prix of Monterey and the entire Champ Car field will make its official 2003 debut next week with Florida Spring Training activities in both St. Petersburg and Sebring International Raceway, Feb. 2-6.

-cart-

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Joel Camathias , Bruno Junqueira , Adrian Fernandez , Patrick Carpentier , Alex Tagliani , Paul Tracy , Oriol Servia , Mario Dominguez , Sébastien Bourdais , Dale Coyne , Michel Jourdain
Teams Conquest Racing , Dale Coyne Racing