FONTANA, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2002 - Gil de Ferran of Marlboro Team Penske completed a one-day, one-car test Jan. 7 at California Speedway as the team prepares for the upcoming Indy Racing League season. De Ferran, teammate Helio Castroneves...
FONTANA, Calif., Tuesday, Jan. 8, 2002 - Gil de Ferran of Marlboro Team Penske completed a one-day, one-car test Jan. 7 at California Speedway as the team prepares for the upcoming Indy Racing League season. De Ferran, teammate Helio Castroneves and Marlboro Team Penske are starting their first full season in the Indy Racing League on March 2 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. California Speedway will play host to its first Indy Racing event March 24.
"The performance has been OK," de Ferran said. "No big issues. It's a different engine than the CART car, so the car shakes differently and feels different, but it's not a big issue in my mind.
"Testing is very much like doing your homework. Some would classify it as boring, but I like it. There's no prize for the winter test season, so you need to make sure you are well prepared for the season. Also, these tests aren't only about speed but reliability. You have to have reliability." de Ferran tested in a 2001 model Dallara chassis.
"The 2002 car will be here for the Test in the West," Team Manager Tom Wurtz said. "We are excited to be back in Fontana, although it's a little earlier than normal."
The Test in the West starts Feb. 5 at California Speedway with a media day, followed by testing Feb. 6 on the 2-mile oval. The Test in the West then moves to Phoenix International Raceway - site of an Indy Racing event March 17 - for testing Feb. 8-9 de Ferran is looking forward to the testing as he prepares for the 15-event Indy Racing League season. He finished second to Castroneves in the 2001 Indianapolis 500, one of two Indy Racing starts the Penske team made last year.
"It won't be a walk in the park," de Ferran said of the season. "We are going in uncharted waters, despite the fact that we did well at Indy. There's a lot for us to learn, especially the intricacies of the tracks.
"As a sportsman, a driver and a fan of auto racing, I'm a true believer in Indy-car racing. It is one of the most challenging forms of racing. I think Indy-car racing is a great untold story. There is potential in our sport to reach fantastic heights.
"It's great racing and very challenging. What the Indianapolis 500 does is give the cars and the series identity. It's very important to be part of the Indianapolis 500. It gives a lot of meaning to the whole sport."
For tickets to the Indy Racing event at California Speedway, call (800) 944-RACE (7223).