2004 IRL Preview: More Tests await Rookie Matsuura INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Feb. 16, 2004 - Kosuke Matsuura will be traveling in different circles starting Feb. 29. An audition in November and eight testing sessions have been the extent of oval...
2004 IRL Preview: More Tests await Rookie Matsuura
INDIANAPOLIS, Monday, Feb. 16, 2004 - Kosuke Matsuura will be traveling in different circles starting Feb. 29.
An audition in November and eight testing sessions have been the extent of oval racing experience for the Indy Racing League IndyCar® Series rookie driver for Super Aguri Fernández Racing.
"I have raced formula cars in both domestic and foreign championship series, but this is my first time to race on oval tracks for 16 races, so I am very excited," said Matsuura, 24, from Aichi, Japan. "I think everything for this year is different. The oval circuits are completely different from road circuits. Even the speed is completely different."
Oval experience wasn't the deciding factor for team co-owners Adrian Fernández and Aguri Suzuki when Matsuura tested at the 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway on Nov. 12. Matsuura's aggressiveness the first time he drove an IRL IndyCar Series machine confirmed their impressions.
"I think he has what it takes to be very competitive, and I am excited about the season," Fernández said.
Matsuura had been part of the driver development program (Autobacs Racing Team) founded by Suzuki, a former Formula One driver. Matsuura finished third in the 2003 Formula Renault V6 Eurocup, claiming three victories and five additional podiums for the ARTA-Signature team. He also was a force in German Formula 3 competition, finishing second in the 2002 championship with two victories and six pole positions. He began racing in karts 10 years ago.
"He is very decisive and clever when driving, and he is very fast," Suzuki said.
The 2004 season will mark the second of IRL IndyCar Series competition for
Super Aguri Fernández Racing. Roger Yasukawa was the driver for the team in its inaugural season, finishing 12th in the point standings. He had six top-10 finishes, with a best of seventh at Kansas and California.
A capsule look at Super Aguri Fernández Racing:
Car number: 55
Sponsors: Panasonic, Autobacs
Chassis/engine: Panoz G Force/Honda
Owners: Adrian Fernández, Aguri Suzuki
Driver: Kosuke Matsuura
Team manager: Tom Anderson
Crew chiefs: Tom Anderson, Steve Ragan
Chief mechanic: Steve Ragan
Engineer: John Dick
Adrian Fernández: "I was very impressed with what I saw from Kosuke in testing, and believe he is going to do a good job for us. He has a bit of a learning curve ahead of him, but the team has a year of experience in the IRL now and will be there to support him."
Aguri Suzuki: "I've known him since he was racing in karts and I know he is a very aggressive and quick driver, so I think we will be able to have a good season. We hope he will become rookie of the year and maybe win a few races during 2004 season. I am looking forward to the opening race in Homestead."
Kosuke Matsuura: "My team is (composed of) professional and experienced people, so I am confident about the team, and I will do my best to bring the first win to the team. There are lots to learn as a rookie, but I am looking forward to race in IndyCar Series."
The 2004 IRL IndyCar Series season begins with the Toyota Indy 300 at 2 p.m. (EST) on Feb. 29, 2004, at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The race will be broadcast live on ESPN and the IMS Radio Network.