CHAMPCAR/CART: Rockingham practice is fast!

By Wendy-Ann Francis - Motorsport.com The sun is shining, at last, on Rockingham Motor Speedway in Northamptonshire, England. First thing in the morning there were still wet patches on the track and this caused a delay in the start of the...

By Wendy-Ann Francis - Motorsport.com

The sun is shining, at last, on Rockingham Motor Speedway in Northamptonshire, England. First thing in the morning there were still wet patches on the track and this caused a delay in the start of the morning practice session. The cars went out on the track at 11:15am for 10 minutes behind the pace car to assess the condition of the track. Most of the drivers achieved lap times in the 30 second range and seven of them made it under 28 seconds. Patrick Carpentier was the fastest on the track at 27.075 (196.654mph).

The drivers then walked the track to see what effect running the cars had on the track. A decision was made at 12:05pm to go out for another short evaluation session under the yellow and hopefully after that the session would go green. At 12:15 the cars took the track and five minutes later the track went green and practice started in earnest. The practice session was then extended and until 1:45pm, giving the teams time to get the cars setup for the race.

Within 10 minutes of the track going green Tony Kanaan had his car up to an average lap speed of 211.638 and 21 of the 26 cars achieved speedsabove 200 mph for the lap. At 12:35 the track went yellow to allow for a track inspection but went green a couple of minutes later. Helio Castroneves took the top spot with a lap speed of 212.760mph. The yellow was thrown again at 12:45 when Mauricio Gugelmin hit the wall at the exit of turn #1 in his spare car. He climbed out and walked away from his machine uninjured.

The session resumed at 12:55 with 51minutes to go in the practice session. Another yellow occurred at 1:05pm but after a quick track inspection the cars were back under green. Paul Tracy then took the top spot with at lap time of 24.997 (213.002mph)

At 1:15pm CART made an announcement that this practice session would finish at 1:45pm. They also stated that the race had been shortened to 400 kilometers (168 laps) and delayed for approximately an hour. The installation laps will start at 3:45pm and the cars will grid at 4pm. Gentlemen start your engines will happen at 4:09pm and the green flag should fly at approximately 4:17pm

Patrick Carpentier and Paul Tracy swapped places with the top speed being 213.857. Then with 15 minutes to go Dario Franchitti jumped from 21st, to 8th, to 5th and then to 1st with a lap speed of 214.451 and Kenny Brack jumped from mid-pack to the top with a speed of 215.240.

With 16 seconds to go Tony Kanaan jumped from 23rd to first with a lap time of 24.710 (215.397) and that held until the checkered fell. Kenny Brack is second, Paul Tracy 3rd, Dario Franchitti 4th, Roberto Moreno 5th and Gil de Ferran 6th. These standings, of course, make no difference as far as the grid is concerned as the grid was determined by the points standings for the series.

The teams have now gone back to their garages to do any changes necessary to the cars before the race starts. A large crowd has arrived at Rockingham to watch the first oval race for the Champ cars in England and it looks as though they are in for a good show.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Gil de Ferran , Roberto Moreno , Patrick Carpentier , Paul Tracy , Dario Franchitti , Tony Kanaan , Kenny Brack