CHAMPCAR/CART: NHR Laguna test report

Newman/Haas Racing concluded a successful three-day test at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. MONTEREY, California (January 28, 2003) -Newman/Haas Racing continued to make progress at the 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca road course since finishing...

Newman/Haas Racing concluded a successful three-day test at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

MONTEREY, California (January 28, 2003) -Newman/Haas Racing continued to make progress at the 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca road course since finishing in first and second place in the 2002 CART Champ car race with drivers Cristiano da Matta and Christian Fittipaldi respectively during a three day test. New driver Bruno Junqueira was assisted by reigning F3000 champion Sebastien Bourdais, 23, at the test and both turned the unofficial fastest laps each of the two days of the open test on Saturday and Sunday before the team ran a third day on Monday.

"The team definitely has a good setup at Laguna Seca and we were able to continue to make improvements," said Junqueira, who ran as high as third at this track in the 2002 event but finished fourth for Target/Ganassi Racing. "Our previous test at Sebring was good but there were only a couple of other cars there so it was hard to measure our performance until we came here. Of course you can't relax just because you had a good test but it does give us confidence that we are headed in the right direction."

On Saturday, Bourdais's final run earned him the unofficial fastest time of 70.154 seconds (114.845 mph) of the 12 drivers participating while Junqueira ran the second-fastest lap of 70.195 seconds (114.777 mph). Junqueira had held the fastest lap time until Bourdais's last run of the day.

On Sunday, Junqueira posted the fastest lap time of the day as well as the weekend when he ran a lap of 69.172 seconds (116.475 mph), which was faster than the pole-winning lap of 69.473 seconds set by Cristiano da Matta in the 2002 race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Like his childhood friend da Matta in the 2002 CART Spring Training held at this track, Junqueira maintained either the first or second position in all four testing sessions over the weekend. Bourdais set the second fastest time of 69.709 seconds (115.578 mph) on Sunday while continuing to learn the new road course.

Monday brought mixed fortunes as Junqueira was able to complete almost 225 miles while Bourdais was involved in a minor crash that ended his running at the 45 mile mark. Over the three-day test Junqueira was able to complete more than 500 miles while Bourdais completed 360.

"Apart from the incident, it was a good test," said Bourdais, who was born in the legendary racing town of LeMans, France. "Newman/Haas Racing has a good understanding of how to make their cars good at this track and it helped me to get acclimated quicker. I continued to learn more about driving a Champ car and enjoyed the experience."

"We spent most of Saturday morning working to get both drivers comfortable in the cars before we were able to concentrate on work Saturday afternoon so we were pretty happy with setting the top two times," added Brian Lisles, General Manager of Newman/Haas Racing. "On Sunday we had a couple of problems but we were able to resolve them and continue testing. Bruno was able to complete 100 laps on Monday but we ended Sebastien's test early because we weren't sure if we were going to be able to repair his car before the end of the day. Overall, it was a very productive test. Both drivers picked up where we left off at this track last June but we'll have to keep working hard to keep up with the progress of the other teams."

CART's annual Spring Training activities will take place in both St. Petersburg and Sebring International Raceway in Fla., Feb. 2-6 before the 2003 Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season begins on February 23, in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Newman/Haas Racing, owned by actor/race car driver Paul Newman and racing entrepreneur Carl A. Haas, is the most successful team competing in the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford racing series sanctioned by Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART). The team will begin their 21st season in CART in 2003 and will attempt to score their first back-to-back CART title as well as their fifth overall after winning 68 races and 70 pole positions. Current drivers Bruno Junqueira and (tbd), were preceded at the team by Mario and Michael Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Paul Tracy, Christian Fittipaldi and reigning 2002 CART Champion Cristiano da Matta. For more information log on to www.newman-haas.com, www.brunojunqueira.com or www.cart.com.

-nhr-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Bruno Junqueira , Christian Fittipaldi , Paul Tracy , Paul Newman , Sébastien Bourdais , Cristiano da Matta