Testing One-Two-Three Five drivers were invited to a two-day test session with Tasman Motorsports' Indy Lights contingent at Firebird International Raceway on December 1 and 2. The team is looking to fill the seat vacated by 1998 PPG-Dayton...
Five drivers were invited to a two-day test session with Tasman Motorsports' Indy Lights contingent at Firebird International Raceway on December 1 and 2. The team is looking to fill the seat vacated by 1998 PPG-Dayton Indy Lights champion Cristiano da Matta who graduates to Champ Cars next season with Arciero-Wells Racing.
The drivers who participated included Englishman Guy Smith, the 1998 Indy Lights Rookie of the Year who finished third in the point standings; American Geoff Boss, a second-year veteran who finished ninth in this year's Indy Lights championship; Australian Greg Murphy, a successful touring car driver with the Holden Racing Team and former Bathurst 1000 race winner; Australian David Besnard, the current US Formula Ford 2000 champion; and American Ryan Newman, who finished third in the 1998 USAC Silver Crown Championship and claimed three USAC Midget Series race wins.
Airton Dare, who will return to Tasman to pilot his Banestado-sponsored Lola in the 1999 PPG-Dayton Indy Lights Championship, provided the baseline for the outing which was held on Firebird's East Course located just outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Dare finished sixth in this year's championship.
"All five drivers did a good job," said Indy Lights team manager Steve Dickson. "At this point we have narrowed the field down to two drivers -- Guy Smith and Geoff Boss -- who, because of their experience in these types of cars, stood out the most from the group. We hope to make a driver announcement before the end of the month."
"It was another successful 'Gong Show' as we call it," added Steve Horne. "Guy and Geoff were the quickest of those tested and were able to equal Airton's baseline time, but all the drivers did an excellent job. Ryan was a big surprise. I was particularly impressed with both he and David Besnard."
The 1999 season will mark the team's fifth year of Indy Lights competition.
Back In The Saddle
Tony Kanaan will get his first look at the Reynard 99I next week as the team heads for Miami-Dade Homestead Motorsports Complex in Homestead, Florida, for a shakedown test on December 14, 15 and 16. The team took delivery of its first 1999 chassis last Thursday, and a second car is expected to be delivered next week.
"I can't wait to get back on the track," said Kanaan. "I will be a lot busier this off-season because we didn't test that much last year, and I am really looking forward to getting back in the car. We have a lot of exciting new projects for next year. I am not a rookie any more, so there are no excuses."
Diane Holl has been promoted to Engineering Manager for the team's Champ Car program. Holl joined Tasman in 1995, and was race engineer for Adrian Fernandez during the 1996 and 1997 seasons and Tony Kanaan this year.
Martin Pare and Eric Cowdin will move up as joint race engineers on Kanaan's program. Pare joined the team in the fall of 1996 and was data acquisition engineer for Adrian Fernandez in 1997 and Kanaan in 1998. Cowdin has been with the team since late 1995. He was race engineer for Kanaan during the 1996 and 1997 Indy Lights seasons and Cristiano da Matta this year.
With trips to Brazil, Italy, France and the United States since mid-November, Kanaan has not been letting any grass grow under his feet prior to off-season testing.
"The last few weeks have been very busy for sure," said Kanaan, "and I still need to make another trip back to Brazil before the end of the year. It's like the comedy show called Cheers. I walk on the plane and all the flight attendants yell 'Tony' instead of 'Norm'."
But it hasn't been all work. Kanaan participated in the Elf Masters karting event in Paris and the 12 Hours of Granja Viana in Brazil.
"I really enjoyed the Elf Masters," he said. "It was a lot of fun. The 12 Hours of Granja Viana was great. It's a kart race held at the Granja Viana Circuit which is about 20 minutes from Sao Paulo. Rubens Barrichello, Christian Fittipaldi and I were teammates, and we won by about four laps. So, it's been busy but it's been fun!"