CHAMPCAR/CART: Teams prepare for 2004 with Sebring test

Champ Car Teams Start 2004 Preparation with Sebring Test Sessions INDIANAPOLIS (February 6, 2004) -- The first signs of Spring in the Champ Car world have nothing to do with robins and baseballs, and everything to do with the sounds of 750hp...

Champ Car Teams Start 2004 Preparation with Sebring Test Sessions

INDIANAPOLIS (February 6, 2004) -- The first signs of Spring in the Champ Car world have nothing to do with robins and baseballs, and everything to do with the sounds of 750hp turbocharged Ford-Cosworth engines and squealing Bridgestone tires.

Those sounds filled the air for the first time in 2004 earlier this week as four Champ Car World Series teams took to the test track at Sebring International Raceway, kicking off preparations for the 2004 campaign.

Fernandez Racing, Herdez Motorsports, PK Racing and Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing rolled their cars out for the first time this past week, running multiple days on the 1.67-mile Sebring test track. Portland winner Adrian Fernandez, Miami winner Mario Dominguez, Australia champ Ryan Hunter-Reay, Mario Haberfeld, Mika Salo, Roberto Gonzalez and rookie Nelson Philippe all turned their first laps of the year in advance of the April 18 season-opening Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach.

"It was nice to drive the car again, definitely," said Fernandez. "We had a good test and were pretty competitive both days. We had our own agenda for testing and our setup was not particular to Sebring; it was more geared towards the tracks where we have had some problems. We are pretty pleased with the results and have a lot of data we can use in the future. The conditions for testing were excellent and it was a good start to the season for us."

Hunter-Reay had the unofficial fastest time of the week as he ran some evaluation days with Herdez, who is still deciding on a driver for a second car. He and Dominguez gave a revamped Herdez team a reason to be encouraged after their first session according to Herdez Competition Managing Director Keith Wiggins.

"We have hired some new engineers and we were very pleased with the way the whole team performed," he said. "Ryan was up to speed very quickly and neither driver put a foot wrong. We were able to get quite a bit out of the test."

PK Racing ran with Salo and Gonzalez, Gonzalez making his first appearance with the team after making two Champ Car starts last season with Dale Coyne Racing and Herdez respectively. Mi-Jack/Conquest ran two evaluation days with the 17-year-old Philippe before turning their Reynard over to Haberfeld on Thursday. Philippe is working toward getting his Champ Car license as the team looks to solidify its plans for the upcoming season.

"We developed some new pieces for the Reynard over the winter," said team owner Eric Bachelart. "Obviously, we are evaluating whether we stay with this chassis or switch to the Lola. We were encouraged by how Nelson ran compared to the Lolas that were on the track, but we're not yet making any conclusions."

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Mario Haberfeld , Mika Salo , Mario Dominguez , Roberto Gonzalez , Nelson Philippe , Dale Coyne
Teams Dale Coyne Racing