On a beautiful, cloudless day at Laguna Seca, the CART FedEx Championship teams take to the track for their one and only official group test session or "Sneak Preview" before the season proper gets underway. Cristiano da Matta set the pace in...
On a beautiful, cloudless day at Laguna Seca, the CART FedEx Championship teams take to the track for their one and only official group test session or "Sneak Preview" before the season proper gets underway.
Cristiano da Matta set the pace in his Newman/Haas Lola Toyota, setting a best time of 1:09.952 (115.176mph) at the 2.238-mile Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca. Da Matta of course won the first and final race of the 2001 season with Newman/Haas and, with a year with the Illinois based team under his belt, heads into the 2002 season as one of the favorites for the Vanderbilt Cup.
Tony Kanaan may not have won a race yet for Mo Nunn Racing, but the Brazilian returns once again with this now one-car team to set the second fastest time of the test, lapping 0.364 seconds slower than the flying da Matta.
Patrick Carpentier was third fastest at the unchanged Team Players team, keen to prove that they will be competitive from the outset in 2002, unlike 2001. Alex Tagliani was ninth fastest.
Townsend Bell may have already completed two races for the Patrick outfit last year, but starts the 2002 season as one of only two Rookie drivers in the field. The Indy lights Champion set the fourth fastest time today.
Christian Fittipaldi was fifth fastest in the second, and sponsorless, Newman/Haas entry ahead of Jimmy Vasser, who has left Patrick Racing and joined Team Rahal for 2002.
Last year's Championship runner-up Kenny Brack, who now races for Target Chip Ganassi racing, set the seventh fastest time of the test session with Michael Andretti taking eighth, having sat out most of the session, ahead of Alex Tagliani in the second Players machine.
Scott Dixon was tenth fastest in his PacWest entry, while 2002 teammate Oriol Servia was 13th overall. Tora Takagi was 11th fastest in his Walker car ahead of Adrian Fernandez who this year runs a Lola chassis.
Other notable mentions include Max Papis who now races for Sigma Autosport, setting the 15th fastest time while Michel Jourdain Jr, now with Team Rahal was 16th. Over at Team KOOL Green, Dario Franchitti did not complete a timed lap while Paul Tracy had just one three-lap run to bring up the tail of the timesheets.
The second of four test sessions scheduled for this weekend begins later today at 5pm EST.
<pre> Session notes
00 mins - 2001 pole, Gil de Ferran for Team Marlboro Penske - 1:08.596(117.453mph) 03 mins - Oriol Servia (PacWest Racing) first driver out on track 11 mins - Red Flag - Townsend Bell (Patrick Racing) spun and stalled in Turn 11 17 mins - Green Flag 20 mins - Fittipaldi (Newman Haas Racing) goes fastest 1:27.321 22 mins - Dixon (PacWest Racing) takes quickest in 1:17.076 then improves to 1:13.749 25 mins - Fittipaldi back on top by two tenths of a second 25 mins - The track appears to be very green and drivers are complaining of lack of grip 28 mins - Tagliani (Team Players) up to P2 in 1:12.400, Vasser (Team Rahal) 1:12.079 31 mins - Red Flag - Nakano (Fernandez Racing) made contact with the wall in Turn 6 at high speed, he's out and ok. 43 mins - Green Flag 49 mins - Dixon takes the lead once again - 1:11.354 - Dixon, Vasser, Tagliani, Bell 56 mins - Junqueira (Target Chip Ganassi) goes off track but continues 62 mins - Carpentier moves second 1:11.363 67 mins - Kanaan (Mo Nunn Racing) goes quickest in 1:10.918 67 mins - Order - Kanaan, Dixon, Carpentier, Bell, Servia, Junqueira, Papis, Vasser, Tagliani, Brack, da Matta, Jourdain Jr. 70 mins - Papis (Sigma Autosport) Misfiring Cosworth. 72 mins - Red Flag - Carpentier loses his Players car at turn 2. 76 mins - Green Flag 82 mins - Vasser goes second in 1:11.112, only for Carpentier to go one better with 1:11.088 92 mins - Kanaan improves his time to 1:10.316 and stays top 93 mins - Paul Tracy (Team KOOL Green) finally joins the session - Franchitti and Andretti yet to make an appearance. 96 mins - Vasser also improves his time in second place with 1:10.723 (others still complaining of lack of grip) 99 mins - Brack (Target Chip Ganassi) gets up to speed to take third quickest with a time of 1:10.792 100 mins - Kanaan, Vasser, Brack, Carpentier, Fittipaldi, Tagliani, Dixon, Bell, Servia, Junqueira - top ten. 106 mins - Tora Takagi (Walker Racing) makes his way up the field to eight fastest. 110 mins - Mario Dominguez (Herdez Competition) has problems but manages to coast into the pits - currently running 17th. 125 mins - Da Matta goes quickest with the first time under one minute ten seconds in 1:09.952 - but still over two seconds off the track record. 132 mins - Michael Andretti finally takes to the track 135 mins - Junqueira goes off track yet again but continues. 140 mins - Da Matta, Kanaan, Vasser, Brack, Carpentier, Fittipaldi, Bell, Tagliani, Dixon, Takagi, Servia, Junqueira - top 12. 142 mins - Andretti puts in a time of 1:12.515 after sitting out most of this session putting him in 15th place. 145 mins - Future Rookie of the Year and possible contender for the Championship Bell impressively jumps to third quickest in 1:10.446 146 mins - Carpentier immediately knocks him off with a time of 1:10.327 148 mins - Andretti up to eighth. 150 mins - Checkered flag - da Matta, Kanaan, Carpentier, Bell, Fittipaldi, Vasser, Brack, Andretti, Tagliani, Dixon - top ten.