IRL: Kosuke Matsuura passes ROP for Indy 500

Matsuura Turns First Laps at Indy Completes Rookie Orientation Program INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 26, 2004) -- Kosuke Matsuura [Kohs-kay Mat-sur-ah] turned his first laps at Indianapolis Motor Speedway...

                       Matsuura Turns First Laps at Indy

Completes Rookie Orientation Program

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 26, 2004) -- Kosuke Matsuura [Kohs-kay Mat-sur-ah] turned his first laps at Indianapolis Motor Speedway today, completing the IRL IndyCar® Series' mandatory Rookie Orientation Program (ROP) in preparation for the 88th running of the Indianapolis 500 on May 30.

Matsuura, who currently leads the Bombardier Rookie of the Year title chase and sits 10th in the point standings, was one of six rookies participating in ROP on the famed 2.5-mile oval. ROP is required for any driver that has not competed in a prior Indianapolis 500® Mile Race. Matsuura completed four speed phases of 10 laps each aboard the #55 Panasonic ARTA Panoz G Force/Honda/Firestone -- the final phase requiring 10 consistent laps above 210 mph -- which will allow him to participate in on-track activities when the track opens for official practice on May 9.

"It was pretty windy today," said Matsuura, who turned the second fastest time of the day, "but I was able to finish the rookie test which wasn't difficult. This track is completely different from the other three tracks that I have driven because the four corners have all different characteristics. The track is great; it is very interesting."

The test also marked the first time that Super Aguri Fernandez Racing has run the new Honda HI4R-A engine, a 3.0-liter version of the HI4R. Per IRL regulations, engines are to be reduced from 3.5-liter to 3.0-liter effective in May.

"I'm very pleased with the progress today," said Managing Director Tom Anderson. "It was a typical Indiana day in April with a lot of wind out of the west, a minor stop for rain and changing, swirling wind conditions that gave Kosuke a total education on the month of May and what to look forward to in terms of the ever-changing weather conditions. He took to the track very well with a natural line around and was quite comfortable to start with in the lower phases. As the wind picked up and he picked up speed, he could tell the differences between the wind in [Turns] One and Two versus the way the car handled without the wind in Turns Three and Four. It will be a big education for him this month, and he gets a grade "A" today. He did a great job."

Super Aguri Fernandez Racing will return to the track on Wednesday, joining its sister team, Fernandez Racing, and the rest of the IndyCar Series field for a two-day Open Test at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The test was originally scheduled to begin tomorrow, but was postponed due to a weather front moving into the area.

-safr-

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Kosuke Matsuura