CHAMPCAR/CART: Team Rahal Optimistic

PROVEN PACKAGE HAS TEAM RAHAL OPTIMISTIC In its quest for Championship Car success, Team Rahal has explored nearly every competitive option. The team has campaigned a different engine, chassis and tire combination in each of its three...

PROVEN PACKAGE HAS TEAM RAHAL OPTIMISTIC

In its quest for Championship Car success, Team Rahal has explored nearly every competitive option. The team has campaigned a different engine, chassis and tire combination in each of its three seasons looking for just the right blend of power, driveability, balance and grip. Evaluated independently, each component may have proved a wise choice, but the competitive magic lies in their combination.

If poles and wins are a measure of that magic, the Reynard/Ford-Cosworth/Firestone combination looks like a keeper. That's why Team Rahal will sport the same package that carried it to a maiden victory and three poles in 1998 when it rolls to the starting line in 1999.

"Decisions about our equipment program for the following season typically are made before the current season is halfway through," said Team Owner Bobby Rahal. "With less than a full season's worth of evaluation on each component, we have to make determinations based upon theory, personal relationships and plain old gut feeling as much as we do on hard data. It's never an easy choice, and, though our recent decisions may indicate otherwise, we try to ere on the side of stability."

According to Team Manager Tim Cindric, there is something to be said for stability.

"Change is often good, but it's often difficult," he said. "Especially in this business, replacing a major component in your program requires an enormous amount of learning in a very short period of time. Staying with the same package allows us to build on what we know, to use the time we would have to spend on learning on refinements, and to head into the new season with a library of reliable data and the confidence that goes with it."

Having taken his inaugural series win aboard a Team Rahal Reynard/Ford on Firestones last year, driver Bryan Herta takes the ain't-broke-don't-fix-it attitude.

        "This is a fast package," Herta said.  "We proved that on a number
of occasions in 1998.  It's capable of winning, too, and that's all we can
ask.  The rest is up to us."

Teammate Max Papis knows two pieces of the team's puzzle well, having driven a Reynard on Firestone tires for Arciero-Wells Racing for the past three seasons. The key change to which he's had to adapt has been the move from Toyota to Ford power. His test times, feedback and optimism show he's had little trouble adjusting.

"Team Rahal has a proven package," he said. "The Ford engine is strong. It has been developed well and has won races. If I can drive with the same intensity that I did with the Toyota program, it should not surprise anyone when we succeed."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Max Papis , Bobby Rahal , Bryan Herta