RED BULL PKV RACING'S NEEL JANI DEBUTS WITH SECOND PLACE SHOWING AFTER FIRST DAY OF TESTING AT SEBRING JIMMY VASSER SIXTH ON SPEED CHARTS INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - JANUARY 23, 2007 - - Red Bull PKV Racing's Neel Jani made his Champ Car debut...
RED BULL PKV RACING'S NEEL JANI DEBUTS WITH SECOND PLACE SHOWING AFTER FIRST DAY OF TESTING AT SEBRING
JIMMY VASSER SIXTH ON SPEED CHARTS
INDIANAPOLIS, IN - - JANUARY 23, 2007 - - Red Bull PKV Racing's Neel Jani made his Champ Car debut an auspicious one placing second on the speed charts following the first day of practice at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida. PKV Racing co-owner and veteran driver Jimmy Vasser was sixth.
Jani, who only yesterday was announced as the driver of the #21 Red Bull PKV Racing Cosworth/Panoz/Bridgestone machine for the 2007 Champ Car World Series season, ran a fast lap of 51.620 seconds (116.397 mph) on the 1.66-mile Sebring short course. Vasser, who was piloting a Champ Car for the first time since competing at last year's Long Beach Grand Prix on April 9, 2006, drove the #12 Gulfstream/Bell Micro PKV Racing Cosworth/Panoz/Bridgestone car to a quick time of 51.814 seconds (115.961 mph).
Jani, the 23-yer-old native of Jens, Switzerland, ran at total of 50 laps in the two sessions today, 15 in the morning and 35 in the afternoon. He notched his fast time on the 26th lap of the afternoon session and 41st overall. Jani's fast time was surpassed only by three-time series defending champion Sebastien Bourdais.
"Once the Red Bull PKV Racing team ran a sufficient number of laps we began to make some progress and learn some things," Jani said. "We tired a lot of different things today and acquired a lot of data. I had some problems with the breaking and we still have a lot of work to do, but for my first time in a Champ Car and my first time at Sebring I think we had a decent day."
Commenting on the new Panoz DP01, Jani said, "The new Champ Car is nice to drive. It is cool."
Jani, a member of the Red Bull driver development program since 2005, spent the 2006 season as a test driver for the Scuderia Toro Rosso Formula 1 team and competed in four GP2 races plus four A1 GP events taking the win and finishing fourth in Malaysia.
Vasser, who is testing here in Sebring in an effort to help the team acquired additional data about the new Panoz chassis as well as help Jani through the Champ Car learning curve, ran a total of 42 laps today, 12 in the morning and 30 in the afternoon, with his fast time coming on the 23rd lap in the afternoon and 35th overall.
Speaking about driving a Champ Car for the first time in over nine months, Vasser said, "It was great to be back in a Champ Car. It didn't feel like I'd been away that long." He went on to explain, "I am just doing what I can to help the team and help Neel make the transition to Champ Cars."
Regarding the new chassis, Vasser said, "It feels like a Champ Car only newer. I really like the paddle shifting. Of course there are still some bugs to work out, but it is a beautiful car race car and I think the fans are going to like it."
PKV Racing will test again tomorrow at Sebring. The first session will run from 9:45 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. The second will commence at 2:00 p.m. and concluded at 3:30 p.m.