TEAM GORDON'S FIRST TOYOTA-POWERED SWIFT PASSES FIRST TEST ANAHEIM, Calif. (Feb. 25, 1999) - It was only a little more than a week ago that Team Gordon, the newest competitor on the CART FedEx Championship Series, took delivery of its first...
TEAM GORDON'S FIRST TOYOTA-POWERED SWIFT PASSES FIRST TEST
ANAHEIM, Calif. (Feb. 25, 1999) - It was only a little more than a week ago that Team Gordon, the newest competitor on the CART FedEx Championship Series, took delivery of its first Swift chassis. But already, driver and team owner Robby Gordon has put the Toyota-powered car through the paces in two days of testing concluded yesterday at Laguna Seca Raceway near Monterey.
By all indications, it was a success as Gordon and his No. 22 Menards/Panasonic/Johns Manville/Duracell/Turtle Wax-sponsored race car posted a fast lap of 1 minute, 8.667 seconds (an average of 117.33 mph) around the 2.238-mile permanent road course over the two days of testing. A total of seven cars took advantage of the annual CART open test at Laguna Seca. Team Rahal's Bryan Herta, last year's race winner at Laguna Seca, posted the fastest lap of the two days at 119.92 mph in his Ford-powered Reynard, an unofficial track record.
Having taken delivery of the car on Sunday, Feb. 14, the newly formed Team Gordon worked fast and furiously to paint and prep it in time to make the two-day test. Tuesday morning's opening session represented the first time the new car had turned a wheel. By the end of the two days, the car had completed 73 laps in all.
The team continues preparations for next month's CART FedEx Championship Series season opener at Homestead, Fla. (March 21) with test sessions scheduled for Phoenix and Homestead in the coming weeks.
ROBBY GORDON, OWNER/DRIVER - "I don't know what the big deal is (said jokingly), it's just a big bag of bolts with some bodywork thrown on top. It's not like this thing is a space ship it's just a car! Seriously, though, I'm extremely pleased with how it went. We came here to basically shake the car down. We went out for the morning session on Tuesday and ran 35 laps trouble-free. The plan here was not to break any track records, but to make sure the car functions properly. And it took a lot of focus and discipline to not stray too far from that plan. We're looking forward to going out and seeing what this car can really do."
MIIKE HELD, CO-OWNER - "We came out here to essentially get our feet wet for the first time. We've hired some first-rate personnel and, in addition to shaking the car down, we wanted to see how everyone works together. It took a Herculean effort to get the car ready for this test. Everyone performed admirably. And the car's initial performance turned out to be a pleasant surprise. We went out and ran in the 1:09s by the second session and figured that if we could get into the high 1:08s, we could consider the test a success. Well, we made down to 1:08.6, so you might say we're pleased. But we've got a big mountain to climb, yet."
BRIAN BERTHOLD, CHIEF ENGINEER - "We made some tremendous progress considering this car has only existed for two days on the racetrack. We ran our fast time in the morning session (on Wednesday) just as the checkered flag came out. Had we had a few more laps, there were still three-tenths to a half-second left in that setup. We found that every time we put a new set of tires on the car, it took about five laps to heat them up, and the fast time came on only the third lap on a new set of tires. Optimistically, you might have seen us in the 1:07s had we run more in the afternoon session. But, for the first time working together, we're more than happy. With Robby, we've established a solid level of communication and I feel like we're on our way to developing that unspoken chemistry that you need between driver and engineer. I'm really happy with Robby's input, and his consistency on the track. In the morning session on Wednesday, we addressed 70% of Robby's complaints with the setup, so were on our way to setting even faster times."