CHAMPCAR/CART: Tasman Motorsports Detroit Preview

ITT Automotive Detroit Grand Prix Motor City Madness A faster, wider and longer race course will be in store for the Champ and Indy Lights cars as they hit the Motor City this weekend for the 17th Annual ITT Automotive ...

ITT Automotive Detroit Grand Prix

Motor City Madness

A faster, wider and longer race course will be in store for the Champ and Indy Lights cars as they hit the Motor City this weekend for the 17th Annual ITT Automotive Detroit Grand Prix.

Changes to The Raceway on Belle Isle Park, located just outside of downtown Detroit, include a new quarter-mile extension to the straight-away and a new 94 foot wide Turn Three (the turn coming off the straight-away) providing more opportunities for passing and higher speeds.

Top speed on the straight is expected to be around 190 mph for the Champ Cars and 150 mph for Indy Lights.

Activities on the new 2.36-mile (formerly 2.1-mile), 14-turn temporary road course will begin Friday with provisional qualifying for both series.

How Many Laps?

Of all the different types of race circuits, temporary road course events are one of the hardest on the mechanical parts of the car such as the gearbox. During the 77+ lap race, Champ Car drivers will shift approximately 23 times per lap or over 1771 times during the two hour event. The Indy Lights drivers are not far behind that figure, averaging 20 shifts per lap.

"I think I am going to ask for an automatic for this race," joked Tony Kanaan.

At a Glance

Two-time Detroit Indy Lights race winner Tony Kanaan heads into Round 8 of the FedEx Championship Series trailing former teammate Helio Castro-Neves by six points in the battle for Rookie of the Year honors.

"I think we have a very good chance at Detroit this weekend," said Kanaan. "I don't have enough experience on the ovals yet, and I have much more confidence on the road courses. Now is my time. We had a good setup at Long Beach which is a similar type of track. For me, there is something special about Detroit. I love this track."

In his seven career Champ Car starts to date this season, Kanaan has posted three top-six finishes.

Cristiano da Matta currently leads the PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship point standings heading into this weekend and holds a 32-point advantage over his nearest challenger. Teammate Airton Dare is currently ranked 10th in the standings. Twelve points separate Dare from third place in a close-knit points battle.

Ready, Setup, Go

In preparation for the Detroit Grand Prix, the Tasman Champ and Indy Lights teams tested at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida and Gingerman Raceway in South Haven, Michigan.

"I think the key to this weekend in terms of setup will be traction and having a car that is very nimble -- good changing direction," said Diane Holl, race engineer for Kanaan. "Two big factors for the race will be tires and fuel mileage -- tires in how quickly they wear out and fuel mileage in the number of drivers that ran out last year."

"With the new track changes and passing opportunities, I feel that qualifying well will still be an advantage," added Don Bricker, race engineer for Airton Dare, who grew up in Yale, Michigan. "In terms of setup, you need to give the driver a car that handles well through the turns. Overall grip -- because of the street conditions -- and braking are also important."

A Bit of History

Tasman Motorsports has won four of the last five Indy Lights events at Detroit with drivers Steve Robertson ('93 and '94) and Tony Kanaan ('96 and '97). (Note: Tasman did not compete in Indy Lights in 1995). The team has also laid claim to three pole positions with Bryan Herta (1993), Robertson (1994) and Kanaan (1997).

Blow Out the Candles

Happy birthday wishes to Diane Holl who celebrates her birthday this Friday, June 5.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Airton Daré , Tony Kanaan , Bryan Herta , Steve Robertson , Cristiano da Matta