A postcard perfect day with temps in the 70s and cloudless skies met Team Rahal and the other CART competitors at the Twin Ring Motegi track for the first day of practice for Saturday's Firestone Firehawk 500 (Tape Delayed Saturday afternoon on ...
A postcard perfect day with temps in the 70s and cloudless skies met Team Rahal and the other CART competitors at the Twin Ring Motegi track for the first day of practice for Saturday's Firestone Firehawk 500 (Tape Delayed Saturday afternoon on ABC-1:00-3:00 PM). The 1.5-mile track proved to be green after a full day of showers on Wednesday and therefore grip was at a premium for the majority of the day.
Shell driver Kenny Brack, looking for his fifth consecutive front row start, posted the fifth fastest time in the morning practice with a lap of 210.167 mph. Brack has a faster lap waived off when a yellow flag for track inspection came out as he was completing a lap of over 211 mph. In the afternoon Brack concentrated on running used tires to simulate the race conditions. The Shell car finished the session and the day seventh overall with a fast lap of 211.733 mph.
Max Papis started the day in his back-up car but eventually moved to the primary car painted in the Miller Genuine Draft (MGD) livery. The MGD chassis had not been run before so Papis first practice lap in the car in the morning session was the first miles logged on the car. The lack of grip on the tack and a "massive push" left him with little feeling in the car.
The car improved for Papis in the afternoon session as he posted the 16th fastest time of the day at 208.430 mph. Like the Shell team the MGD team ran used tires and focused on simulating race conditions.
Practice resumes on Friday with a split session (Thursday 8:30 PM EDT) and qualifying will begin Friday afternoon in Motegi (Friday 12:30 AM EDT).
Max Papis (#7 Miller Genuine Draft Ford-Cosworth/Lola) - "We ran both the Miller Lite (back-up) and the MGD (primary) car this morning. The MGD car had never run a lap before I drove it out on the track today and so we had to make quite a few adjustments after the morning session. The back-up didn't run very well because a boost problem and we are still learning about the new MGD car. I was pretty happy this afternoon with the MGD car even as we ran on old tires. We concentrated on trying to get the rear end solid in the corners. Now we are starting to feel much better about the new car. We'll have new qualifying parts for Friday and that will help us. The track surface is a little bumpier this year than last. Especially the bump entering Turn 3 is tough to negotiate. There was a lot of sand on the track this morning and it took about 90 minutes to work in some grip. This afternoon, the track was much better. Come race time there is going to be enough rubber to have a couple of grooves and should make for some pretty good racing."
Kenny Brack (#8 Shell Ford-Cosworth/Lola) - "We haven't the right setup yet. We are kind of chasing the chassis right now. The track was a little slippery this morning but the grip was better this afternoon. We have to make a few adjustments with qualifying coming up. We weren't at the qualifying setup we want for Friday. Right now the car moves around quite a bit that I didn't feel the wind (15 mph gusts) too much. If we get the chassis right, that kind of wind won't affect us. I'd like to be on the front row again (as he goes for his fifth consecutive front row start this year) but I don't think we have the car ready for it. I believe it is possible to start up there again since we started second last year here. We just have to get a little better set-up. The rear end wants to kick out into Turn 3 since we shift down and brake for that corner. We need to make the rear more secure in Turn 3 for qualifying."