CHAMPCAR/CART: Nakano makes strong debut with Fernandez Racing

Shinji Nakano turned his first laps today with Fernandez Racing, taking over driving duties of the ...

Shinji Nakano turned his first laps today with Fernandez Racing, taking over driving duties of the #51 Tecate/Quaker State/Telmex Honda/Reynard from teammate Adrian Fernandez at Sebring International Raceway.

Nakano, who is entering his sophomore season of Champ Car competition, recorded a best lap time of 51.16 seconds on the 1.65-mile road course. He was among the quickest of the drivers testing today, which included @!Christian Fittipaldi, Patrick Carpentier, Tora Takagi, Mauricio Gugelmin and Roberto Moreno, under near perfect weather conditions.

"@!Shinji only got in 46 laps," said Tom Anderson, owner and team manager. "We lost a bit of time with adjustments to fit him in the car, and he had a slight over-rev and we wanted to be safe rather than sorry, so we did an engine change.

"The basis of a first test is to establish a baseline -- to see what our strengths and weaknesses are, and get a good understanding of where we are at. Now we capitalize on the pluses, and work real hard on the minuses."

Fernandez, who concluded his portion of the team's Sebring test yesterday, was on hand for Nakano's first run: "Because of the downtime, I didn't have the opportunity to spend as much time as I wanted with him. I did manage to get his opinion about the car, and the problems I felt, he felt also. I saw a lot of good feedback from him. This test was a good introduction for everyone on the team, and I think we have some good opportunities ahead of us."

"It was a good first test with the team," said Nakano. "The car was really good -- the setup, the engine power. I am learning the new car, the new engine, a new seat -- everything. The car was actually very easy to drive. I'm pretty happy, and I am looking forward to the next test."

Fernandez Racing will return to Florida the week of January 22 for a two-day test with both the #51 and #52 Honda/Reynards on the 1.5-mile oval at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

-Fernandez Racing

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Adrian Fernandez , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Mauricio Gugelmin , Tora Takagi , Shinji Nakano , Tom Anderson