IRL: Panoz Homestead open test report

Panoz IndyCar Series Drivers Back to Business at Homestead HOMESTEAD, FL, January 22, 2005 - The Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series teams and drivers went back to work this week with a three-day open test at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The...

Panoz IndyCar Series Drivers Back to Business at Homestead

HOMESTEAD, FL, January 22, 2005 - The Indy Racing League's IndyCar Series teams and drivers went back to work this week with a three-day open test at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The initial two days, Wednesday and Thursday were spent on the 2.21-mile road circuit that utilizes parts of the oval; today's running was dedicated to the initial oval test on the 1.5-mile track.

During the two-day road course test, Ryan Briscoe showed his Formula One experience would come in handy as he set the third best speed in his first IndyCar Series test with a lap of 112.944mph, less than half a second behind skilled leader Dario Franchitti.

Driving the #33 Ganassi Panoz/Toyota/Firestone challenger to which he had been assigned less than a week earlier, Briscoe was quickest in the initial Wednesday morning practice. The young Australian "tested a lot of stuff on the car and it was really going quite well. It's a great way to be here and a great way to start the season," Briscoe said.

When the Indy cars moved to left-turn running, last year's Homestead polesitter came right to the front. Buddy Rice was quickest on the 1.5- mile oval with a draft-aided 214.539mph lap in his #15 Argent Mortgage/Pioneer Panoz/Honda. "We learned a lot about the new Panoz," Rice explained. "It feels good to start the year" atop the charts.

"I'm impressed with the Panoz," declared Scott Sharp, second on the oval in his first drive of Fernandez Racing's #8 Delphi Panoz/Honda. "Its combination of stability and consistency is terrific and I really like how the Panoz behaves through the corners. I felt comfortable right away," the veteran exclaimed.

Chief designer Simon Marshall said the eight Panoz drivers had been "doing very important testing of major parts" during this three day program. "We were not gearing up to go qualifying or racing here. We've got things we need to sort out" during these test days.

"We were pleased our three teams worked closely together with us to get the best car possible," Marshall acknowledged. "Everybody knows what everybody else is doing and we have gotten some very important feedback throughout this meeting."

The sole American designed and built chassis in the Indy Racing League has undergone changes per the IRL's new IndyCar Series rules for its 17 races in the tenth anniversary 2005 season. "We have been building up and preparing for these days over the last four months. There have been a multitude of technical and logistic processes to get here," Marshall admitted.

The Indy cars will have one additional open tune-up for the 14 oval contests on the docket - there are also two road courses and one street event for the first time in League history - as teams will return to Phoenix International Raceway February 9-10 to test on the fast mile oval.

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Scott Sharp , Dario Franchitti , Buddy Rice , Ryan Briscoe