PIZZONIA SUCCESSFUL COMPLETES FIRST DAY IN LONG BEACH IN PREPARATION TO MAKING HIS CHAMP CAR DEBUT WITH ROCKETSPORTS RACING LONG BEACH, California (April 7, 2006) - Rocketsports Racing rookie driver Antonio Pizzonia made his debut on the streets...
PIZZONIA SUCCESSFUL COMPLETES FIRST DAY IN LONG BEACH IN PREPARATION TO MAKING HIS CHAMP CAR DEBUT WITH ROCKETSPORTS RACING
LONG BEACH, California (April 7, 2006) - Rocketsports Racing rookie driver Antonio Pizzonia made his debut on the streets of Long Beach, California in a Champ Car today piloting the #8 Rotax/Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone around the 1.968-mile temporary course, completing a successful day en route to making his race debut on Sunday for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Round One of the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford.
In the morning practice session, Pizzonia took to the streets for the first time with the intentions to learn the course and continue to familiarize himself with his car, as it was only the third time the rookie drove the car. Running 30 laps during the hour and fifteen-minute session, the former Formula One driver posted his best time of 1:10.859 (99.984 mph) on his last lap before the checkered flag waved to end the session. That time left him in the 12th spot on the Champ Car timing and scoring charts. Happy with the car, he was ready to take his first shot at qualifying.
Provisional qualifying for Sunday's event took place this afternoon under mostly sunny skies. The Brazilian went out and posted his best time of the day of 1:09.476 (101.975 mph) on his fifth lap out. That was the best lap he could run this afternoon, as traffic would complicate a good run and cause him to sit 14th on the provisional qualifying report.
After climbing out of the car this afternoon, Pizzonia was nothing but confident in himself, the car, and the Rocketsports team. "Today was a good first day," said Pizzonia. "Considering that this is the first time that I have driven at this venue, I am happy with the progress that was made in terms of learning the track and feeling more comfortable in the #8 Champ Car Rotax Kart Challenge/Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone Champ Car. We should have done better today because there is definitely more to come from me and the car, but unfortunately I did not have a chance to get in a good run this afternoon during provisional qualifying because of traffic. We made some changes to the car to improve the balance, but I think that we are going to go back to where we started and try something different for tomorrow. Overall, I am happy, things are coming together and the Rocketsports team is doing a really good job."
Tomorrow he and the team will have another practice session in the morning, before rolling out for one last shot at improving their times and overall position to start in Sunday's Champ Car season opener. Final qualifying takes place at 2:00 p.m. Pacific Time.