HILLIARD, OHIO . . . Team Rahal continued preparations for the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series by completing yesterday two-days of testing for drivers Max Papis and Kenny Brack at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, CA. The informative sessions...
HILLIARD, OHIO . . . Team Rahal continued preparations for the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series by completing yesterday two-days of testing for drivers Max Papis and Kenny Brack at Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, CA. The informative sessions at the historic northern-California track wrapped up a busy first half of February.
In addition to the test at Laguna Seca, the team also tested at Sebring International Raceway in Florida working on engine development for Ford-Cosworth and gaining a better understanding of the team's new Lola B1/00 Champ Car chassis. Team Rahal is making the switch to Lola for 2001 after having run a Reynard chassis since 1996.
Following a very successful test at Phoenix International Raceway in late January the team decided to focus it's remaining test days on the road and street courses which comprise the first two events of the 2001 season.
"We have made significant progress in the understanding of the car in the last ten days," said Team Rahal director of operations Mark Johnson. "Our drivers, engineers and mechanics are developing a confidence in the new package, a confidence that shows we are making great strides in learning the Lola chassis and what it's capabilities are. We ran competitively with the other cars and teams at the test. For a team that is changing chassis that to me is an encouraging sign. "
"Things are beginning to fall into place for us," said Miller Lite driver Max Papis. "Yesterday afternoon we really saw the fruits of our labor begin to pay dividends. The Lola/Ford package is going to be combination to be reckoned with all season. I really feel like pieces are here for the team to make a run at the championship."
With the busy test schedule preparations have been aided by the expanded the team's expanded fleet of Champ Cars. In past seasons Team Rahal has fielded five cars but in 2001 the team purchased an extra chassis allowing the shop based mechanics to have a Miller and Shell car in house for preparations for the test or in season race. Last week while Brack and Papis were testing at Sebring the cars for the Laguna test were being prepped.
"With the short turnaround having the extra cars simply gives us additional time needed to properly inspect and find problems," said Team Rahal Shop Manager and veteran Champ Car mechanic Jim Prescott. "While it certainly helped to have the extra time to prep the cars last week, the real payoff will come during the season. We feel strongly that this will enable us to increase the reliability of our cars and limit the DNF's due to mechanical failures."
Team Rahal will continue final preparations for the 2001 CART FedEx Championship Series with a test on the road course at Homestead Miami Speedway. The 2001 season opens with the inaugural Monterrey Grand Prix in Monterrey, Mexico March 9-11.