NZ: Slade Miller update 2005-01-12

Timaru Problems Solved, Miller Looks Forward To The New Zealand Grand Prix Invercargill, New Zealand (January 12, 2005) -- Team USA Scholarship driver Slade Miller is confident of a strong showing in this coming weekend's New Zealand Grand Prix...

Timaru Problems Solved, Miller Looks Forward To The New Zealand Grand Prix

Invercargill, New Zealand (January 12, 2005) -- Team USA Scholarship driver Slade Miller is confident of a strong showing in this coming weekend's New Zealand Grand Prix at Teretonga Park, near Invercargill, especially after the discovery of a serious problem with his Stealth/Van Diemen following last weekend's races at Timaru.

Miller spent Monday and Tuesday at the Motorsport Solutions team's base in Christchurch, where it was discovered that his efforts at Timaru had been severely hindered by a faulty coil which left his engine drastically down on power. The problem was not evident in the streaming wet conditions on Sunday morning, when the 18-year-old from Edmond, Oklahoma, ran among the regular Talley's New Zealand Formula Ford Championship front-runners en route to a promising eighth-place finish. When the track dried out for the afternoon race, however, the handicap became more apparent, resulting in both a noticeable lack of straightline speed and excessive understeer due to the reduced power being transmitted through the rear wheels.

"It was disappointing to have struggled so much at Timaru," said Miller, "but the problem with the coil was just one of those unfortunate things. It could happen to anyone at any time."

Once the cause of his troubles had been isolated -- and a fresh coil installed -- Miller was able to turn a few laps at Christchurch's Powerbuilt Raceway at Ruapuna Park on Monday evening. He then undertook a more concerted test on Tuesday, when he turned some competitive lap times.

"He ran very well. At this stage I think he just needs more laps to rebuild his confidence and get ready for the weekend," said former New Zealand Formula Ford Champion John Crawford, whose newly renamed Motorsport Solutions team has run cars successfully for a series of Team USA Scholarship drivers since 2002.

Among those who have benefitted from Crawford's guidance are A.J. Allmendinger, who went on to claim the 2002 Barber Dodge Pro Series title, the 2003 Champ Car Toyota Atlantic Championship crown and the 2004 Champ Car Roshfrans Rookie of the Year Award; Bryan Sellers, who was a front-runner in last year's Toyota Atlantic campaign, driving for Lynx Racing; and 2003 Team USA Scholarship drivers Charlie Kimball, who won last year's New Zealand International Formula Ford Challenge, and Joe D'Agostino. Both Kimball and D'Agostino subsequently raced -- and won -- in the 2004 British Formula Ford Championship.

Miller and the team today traveled south to Teretonga Park, the world's most southerly race track, and completed a few shakedown laps in preparation for two more test days on Thursday and Friday. Official qualifying and the first of the weekend's three races will take place on Saturday, followed by the New Zealand Grand Prix (which was first held in 1950) on Sunday.

"It was good to get in a few laps," related Miller. "It's an enjoyable race track and I'm looking forward to getting to grips with it over the next couple of days. The New Zealand Grand Prix has a great heritage, so it's exciting to be a part of it."

-jshaw-

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About this article
Series Other open wheel
Drivers A.J. Allmendinger , Charlie Kimball , John Crawford , Bryan Sellers , Joe D'Agostino