CHAMPCAR/CART: Lola Cars Gold Coast Friday practice report

Rain foils CART test day in Australia Fittipaldi and da Matta quick for Lola troops On an unseasonably cool, wet and humid late spring day, preparations for the penultimate round of the CART FedEx Championship season had to be placed on hold...

Rain foils CART test day in Australia
Fittipaldi and da Matta quick for Lola troops

On an unseasonably cool, wet and humid late spring day, preparations for the penultimate round of the CART FedEx Championship season had to be placed on hold until tomorrow's qualification day.

The morning test session had only 23 cars working to prepare for the 11th Honda Indy 300 at the 2.795-mile Surfers Paradise street circuit, of the 39 vehicles presented on the long pit road.

The times turned mean little, as Jimmy Vasser's quick lap was nearly 30 seconds in arrears of Dario Franchitti's 1999 pole speed, but lessons were learned by those who took to the track for practice and preparation. Christian Fittipaldi, a recognized master in rainy conditions, logged the fifth quickest lap of the day in his #11 Kmart Blue Light Special Lola/Toyota, at 1:38.009 (102.664mph).

"We had a brake problem in the morning," when he turned only seven tours of the oceanside circuit, "and just checked to make sure that we solved that problem in the afternoon session," when he logged three laps. His teammate Cristiano da Matta was half a second behind Fittipaldi at 1:38.545 (102.106mph) and noted, "I barely did enough laps to be able to tell how good the car was! I'm looking forward to running tomorrow because this is one of my favorite street courses."

Oriol Servia, who had a tremendous accident at the previous race in Monterey, Calif., was "using the HANS [device] for the first time on a road course." He turned eight laps in the morning to test his #22 Sigma Autosport Lola/Ford, logging the 12th quickest lap of the day.

"I wanted to see how my neck would stand up and it wasn't too bad. I'm still getting used to it."

In all, Lola drivers comprised eight of the top 14 runners. One of those who chose not to test under the difficult weather conditions was Kenny Brack, who left his #8 Shell Lola/Ford on the pit road, completing only an installation lap to check all components. Brack trails 2000 CART champion Gil de Ferran by 26 points. "Maybe [this wet weather] gains us something in the end. Who knows? We'll see tomorrow how we'll run," he smiled.

Clearing and warmer conditions are expected for tomorrow's single morning practice and dual qualifying runs. The 65-lap Honda Indy 300 will be telecast by tape delay on ESPN in the USA, on Sunday, October 28th, beginning at 1pm ET.

-Lola Cars-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Gil de Ferran , Jimmy Vasser , Christian Fittipaldi , Dario Franchitti , Oriol Servia , Cristiano da Matta