Rocketsports Racing and Pizzonia Successfully Complete Test in Houston and Head to Long Beach for Season Opener EAST LANSING, Michigan (April 3, 2006) - It is that time again, the time to start yet another exciting race season and Rocketsports...
Rocketsports Racing and Pizzonia Successfully Complete Test in Houston and Head to Long Beach for Season Opener
EAST LANSING, Michigan (April 3, 2006) - It is that time again, the time to start yet another exciting race season and Rocketsports Racing has been in full swing preparing for the 2006 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season opener in Long Beach, California this coming weekend.
Thursday night, the brand-new High Tech Rocketsports trailer was loaded with the #8 Rocketsports Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone and all its necessities, and headed for Long Beach. However, it would be making a quick pit-stop in Houston, Texas to give newly signed driver for Long Beach, Antonio Pizzonia, a little more seat time before taking part of the festivities in Long Beach starting on Friday, April 7.
Rocketsports did not partake in the Champ Car open testing in Fontana this past week because of its own plans to run again at the Mercedes-Benz of Sugar Land Road Course in Houston. The team ran Pizzonia a few weeks ago for the first time on MSR Houston's 2.4-mile permanent circuit. During that time, Pizzonia demonstrated his driving skills and feedback were exactly what the team was looking for. He was signed officially last week to compete with the team for the first race of the 15-event Champ Car season.
The team was eager to work with Pizzonia in the car one last time before heading to their first event of the season, just as eager as Pizzonia was to work with them. The 25-year-old comes to the states to compete in the Champ Car World Series for the first time, making his debut in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, after being a test driver for Williams BMW in Formula One and racing in some events throughout the past three years.
Pizzonia, who made 19 F1 starts, made an impression in the German Grand Prix in 2004 driving for Williams BMW, where he started 14th and demonstrated he had what it took to be a competitive driver in the field by finishing seventh and earning his first points in F1. The Brazilian demonstrated that same ability to Rocketsports during his first test with the team when he ran times that were comparable to past Champ Car championship drivers.
During the Saturday-only test, Pizzonia improved his previous best time of 71.7 seconds by posting a 71.2 (121.212 mph). Completing 116 laps, Pizzonia put 286 more miles under his belt in a Champ Car. The focus of the test was to continue to familiarize Pizzonia with the car. The engineers and team made large changes to the car so that Pizzonia could feel them and give feedback, changes that would be similar to the changes they will be making during the race weekend. Also, they practiced a lot of pit stops so that Pizzonia will be prepared to work with the team when it comes to race day and to ensure safe, quick stops when it really counts.
“I am very happy with logging another day of testing with Rocketsports,” said Pizzonia after climbing out of the car on Saturday. “I am feeling more confident about the car, and I really enjoy working with the team. They have been a big help to me as I get more and more familiar with the car. I am really looking forward to next weekend and I think working together we have the potential for a good result.”
2005 Rookie-of-the-Year Timo Glock made his Champ Car debut last year in Long Beach with Rocketsports starting and finishing in the sixth spot and was the top rookie in the event. Rocketsports brings another rookie to the Champ Car field this weekend and looks to match, if not improve, the results with Glock last season.
The 32nd annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach kicks off this Friday on the streets of Long Beach, California. Final qualifying for the event will take place Saturday, April 8, afternoon, which will determine the starting grid for the race on Sunday, April 9. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time. The race can be seen live on NBC with coverage beginning at 4:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Be sure to check out the Champ Car season preview which will be aired on SPEED Channel Saturday before the race at 11:00 p.m. Eastern Time.