PIZZONIA AND BERNOLDI IMPRESS ROCKETSPORTS DURING TWO-DAY TEST IN HOUSTON EAST LANSING, Mich. (March 16, 2006) - As the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season opener quickly approaches, its speed cannot compare to...
PIZZONIA AND BERNOLDI IMPRESS ROCKETSPORTS DURING TWO-DAY TEST IN HOUSTON
EAST LANSING, Mich. (March 16, 2006) - As the Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season opener quickly approaches, its speed cannot compare to the speed that was demonstrated by former Formula One test drivers Antonio Pizzonia and Enrique Bernoldi when they strapped into a 750-hp Champ Car for the first time with Rocketsports Racing during a two-day test down in Houston, Texas.
The first test-day was spent on getting the drivers familiar with the Champ Car and the 2.4-mile road course at the Houston Motorsport Ranch facility. It had been a long time since both of the drivers were in a racecar, so the team took things slowly by giving them plenty of time to get acquainted with the car on-track, while working with the drivers on the operation of the car. The team made small changes to the car to suit their driving styles and by the second day the drivers were feeling more confident. The team was able to evaluate the drivers on their consistency and their feedback, which gave them the overall impression that these guys have what it takes to be competitive drivers in the Champ Car World Series.
Pizzonia ran 65 laps on the first day and logged 54 laps during the second test day. Completing a total of 119 laps (258 miles), Pizzonia posted his best time around the 2.4-mile course running a lap in 71.7 seconds.
"We had two good days and it was great fun", said Pizzonia on his first Champ Car experience. "The Champ Car is quite different compared to what I am used to driving. They are a little bit bigger and heavier than a Formula 1 car, but the power is not much different.&n bsp; The Rocketsports team worked real hard and they were a great bunch to work with. We were able to put together some good laps times, so I am very happy with how things went these past two days and really had a fun experience thanks to Rocketsports."
Bernoldi also ran a total of 119 laps (258 miles), which included a break down of 44 laps on day one and 75 laps on day two. He recorded his fastest time of a 72.1 in less favorable conditions.
"We were fortunate to have two nice days," stated Bernoldi about the Houston test. "The second day I would say was the best because I spent more time in the car, which made me feel more confident driving it. The feeling with the car was a bit different for me, so I had to learn how it works and learn the track during the first day of testing. The second day went smoother because I was working with the Rocketsports engineers, really learning about the car and gaining more knowledge. However, during that day the weather was a bit windy and the temperatures were dropping, but we were able to run some good lap times and improve overall. I feel the set-up work that we did resulted with positive feedback and I had a good time. I would like to thank the Rocketsports team for a wonderful experience and opportunity."
Both drivers recorded lap times that sat very close on the timing sheets to the best times recorded by Champ Car teams that have tested previously on this track, which resulted in a very positive test for the Rocketsports team.
"This was the most enjoyable tests that I have done in a while," said Team Manager Phil Howard as he reflected on the two-days with Pizzonia and Bernoldi at the new Houston venue. "I was very excited the whole time and left the test with an overwhelming feeling about these two. They are both extremely professional and talented. I can definitely see them as potential race winners in Champ Car."
How ard, along with the rest of the team, was very impressed by the Houston facility. "It was an amazing facility, the road course is such a great track and the Champ Cars looked very impressive running on it," said Howard. "This is a course that challenges a driver, making it an excellent place for a team to really evaluate the potential of any driver behind the wheel of a Champ Car. The people were very friendly and helpful. They were really excited seeing the Champ Cars running there and genuinely enthusiastic about the series. It truly was a great experience running there and I look forward to going back with the team in the future."
Team Owner Paul Gentilozzi agreed with Howard's excitement. "It is exciting to have the opportunity to test two drivers with the talents of Enrique and Antonio", said Gentilozzi. "They have been associated with some of the Elite Formulas 1 teams and have a great understanding of open wheel cars. It really showed in their quick learning skills and resulting performance. The times run were on the level with former series championship drivers, that tells us that they can run up front when it counts. I sincerely hope that we get that chance."
The team will return to the Texas market, along with the rest of the Champ Car lineup, on May 11-13 for the inaugural Grand Prix of Houston. The Houston event, which will be staged on a 1.7-mile street course circuit around Reliant Park, is the second stop on the 15-event Champ Car 2006 season schedule. The Bridgestone Presents The Champ Car World Series Powered by Ford season kicks off on April 7-9 in Long Beach, California for the 32nd Annual Long Beach of Grand Prix.