CHAMPCAR/CART: Spring Training Ford Racing Thursday Report

NEW FORD-COSWORTH XF ENGINE PROVING TO BE XTREEMLY FAST Ford-powered cars could be seen one place at CART Spring Training - at the top of the speed charts. The new Ford-Cosworth XF engine powered seven of the top-10 speeds in today's last day...


Ford-powered cars could be seen one place at CART Spring Training - at the top of the speed charts. The new Ford-Cosworth XF engine powered seven of the top-10 speeds in today's last day of CART Spring Training.

Team Rahal drivers' Max Papis and Kenny Brack were again the ones to catch. Papis posted the quick time of the two-day test with a lap time of 25.760 seconds at 209.907 mph. Newman-Haas driver, Michael Andretti, who posted his quick time in the morning session rounded out the Ford drivers in the top-three.

Strong runs by the Player's-Forsythe Duo of Alex Tagliani and Patrick Carpentier, as well as Christian Fittipaldi and Roberto Moreno helped solidify the Ford-Cosworth XF engine as the pre-season favorite.

BRUCE WOOD - CART Program Director, Cosworth Racing - ON A SCALE OF ONE TO TEN HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS THE WEEK? "Well, about 12 I guess. We came here with reasonable confidence that the Ford-Cosworth teams were going to be strong. The testing thus far has been very encouraging but you never really know how you stand relative to everyone else until you are all setup at the same track at the same time. Ford-Cosworth powered cars holding seven of the top-ten positions on the speed charts is not a coincidence. We have dominated the top positions over the last two days, so I guess you could say that we are pretty happy. Keep in mind though, we still have six weeks to go before the first race and over the last few days we have been in the fortunate position of being a little ahead, but I am sure the other engine manufacturers will be working very hard to catch up." WHAT WILL BE THE FOCUS OF TESTING PRIOR TO THE FIRST RACE IN SIX WEEKS? "Well we will continue to work on reliability. That's been the focus of our testing program over the last two months - we haven't really started developing the performance of the XF yet."

MAX PAPIS -7- Miller Lite Ford-Cosworth - "Things are going very well for us right now. Throughout the week we concentrated on going faster, but we worked a lot on our race setup as well. Unfortunately, this afternoon we had to deal with a transmission problem and we couldn't run all the laps we wanted to. I am really happy with the work Ford has done on the engine. It seems like we are on the right pace. But when I see Michael (Andretti) going so fast I get worried because he is not usually very fast at these things." WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSION OF THE NEW FORD ENGINE? "The Ford and Cosworth guys, and Bruce Wood, have worked so hard during the off-season. They really know their business."

KENNY BRACK -8- Shell Ford-Cosworth - "I think we learned a lot and it's nice that we are running fast, so, so far, so good. I don't think this is a very good reading for the race weekend because all of the teams will be going back and working hard now. But still, to be at the top of the charts is better than being at the bottom." WHAT ARE YOUR IMPRESSIONS OF THE NEW FORD ENGINE? "I think it is a lot better than the other (engines) right now, but now the other (manufacturers) are going to be working really hard to catch Ford. So, we will have to wait and see when we begin the season, but right now, it's very encouraging."

ALEX TAGLIANI -33- Player's Ford-Cosworth - "To be here and do this well is a big boost for our team, especially to do it on the track where our first race is. I think we learned what we wanted to and being up on top of the speed charts was very good for us." WHAT KIND OF A MOMENTUM BOOST IS IT FOR YOU TO COME HERE AND CONSISTENTLY POST THE TIMES YOU DID? "It was a big confidence boost."

MICHAEL ANDRETTI -6- Texaco/Havoline Ford-Cosworth - "We are real happy with where we are and with what we learned all weekend. I think that the Ford/Lola/Firestone package is the one to beat. I am just a little sorry we didn't get the chance to show just how quick we are capable of going at the end of the day. We had a little clutch problem that hampered us at the end of the run. The new Ford-Cosworth engine is strong. It's a real treat to drive." THE NEW FORD ENGINE SEEMS TO BE THE ONE TO HAVE. WHAT IS YOUR IMPRESSION? "It's definitely an improvement over the XD. The beauty of this engine is in its size. It allows us to do a lot more things with our setups. On top of that, it has the horsepower and the performance. So we are pretty excited."

CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI -11- Big K-Mart Ford-Cosworth - "It was nice to get some seat time in on the short ovals. Since my accident last year in St. Louis I have not been to one. Yesterday we started with a brand new car and continue to make improvements and dial it out. After every session it just keeps getting better. We are very happy. The new Ford-Cosworth XF was great out of the box and has been consistent all week - and that's what wins championships."

ADRIAN FERNANDEZ -40- Tecate/Quaker State Ford - "We learned a lot in the morning session. Unfortunately, this afternoon we had some problems with the rear of the car. It was very nervous in a way that we felt that there may have been something wrong mechanically. So we made some changes, but the car still doesn't feel comfortable. We didn't want to take any chances, so we decided to end the session early. We just never seem to have a very good Spring Training - at least in the past three years. In general we did learn a lot, we were able to run the car in different weather conditions which always helps, but by the end of the day today, and after what happened to Dario (Franchitti) yesterday, we didn't want to risk it."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Michael Andretti , Max Papis , Roberto Moreno , Alex Tagliani , Christian Fittipaldi , Kenny Brack