SBRS: Barber Sebring first practice report

(SEBRING, Fla.) Mar. 14, 2001 -The first official practice session of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series is now in the books, and it was Roger Yasukawa of Santa Monica, Calif. who showed the way. Yasukawa turned in the quickest lap of the 23...

(SEBRING, Fla.) Mar. 14, 2001 -The first official practice session of the 2001 Barber Dodge Pro Series is now in the books, and it was Roger Yasukawa of Santa Monica, Calif. who showed the way. Yasukawa turned in the quickest lap of the 23 drivers taking part recording a 2:06.506 sec. (105.291 mph) tour of Sebring International Raceway's 3.7- mile circuit in his Tokyo Ueno Clinic Dodge Reynard. Yasukawa, the 1999 Barber Dodge Pro Series Co-Rookie of the Year finished eighth in the 2000 Pro Series, and as third year driver is pulling out all the stops on a 2001 title bid that would net him up to $305,000 as part of the Barber-CART Career Enhancement Award.

"I spent the first part of my session getting used to my new seat," Yasukawa reported. "The car is handling really well, so I'm quite happy. The 2001-spec car is really driveable as it turns in really well and carries a lot of speed through the corners. I'm going to try and grab the pole tomorrow in case it rains on Friday."

Yasukawa in addition to the next six drivers were lapping under the qualifying record for Sebring set by Rocky Moran Jr. in 1999. That is largely the result of further development to the Dodge Reynard chassis and the latest iteration of the Michelin Pilot SX tires performed by the Barber Dodge engineering department and Michelin over the off season.

Defending Barber-CART Rookie of the Year Ryan Hunter-Reay emerged as the second quickest driver at the end of the 30-minute practice. He flashed through the timing beams on his 13th of 13 laps completed with a time of 2:06.664 sec. Hunter-Reay led yesterday's test session and was on top of the time sheets more than once atop the time sheets before being nudged out by Yasukawa.

"I tried put in a fast lap on one set-up then come and try a different set up and go for another fast lap," said Hunter-Reay of Boca Raton, Fla. "I finally got a good lap in at the end. Tomorrow, I'll experiment with one more set-up, then decide which to use for the first (of two) qualifying sessions."

Dutchman Sepp Koster was the third quickest driver of the session only 0.089 sec. behind Hunter-Reay. His best effort was recorded at 2:06.753 sec. in the black and silver Stora-Drain sponsored Reynard.

"The track was pretty good to drive today and the car felt good. We have some small issues with it to clear up, but it's a long week so we have plenty of time," said Koster.

Rafael Sperafico of Brazil in the Barber-CART Big Scholarship sponsored Dodge Reynard was fourth quick, only 0.032 sec. shy of Koster's time. Americans Matt Plumb, Peter Boss and the other Barber-CART Big Scholarship driver Jon Morley all lapped below the existing track record.

Sara Senske recorded the seventh quickest time with Juan Manuel Polar and Marc Breuers rounding out the Top-10.

A final practice session Thursday morning will precede the first of two official qualifying sessions that will take place tomorrow afternoon at 4:45 p.m. EST.

-Barber

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Series Other open wheel
Drivers Peter Boss , Rocky Moran Jr. , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Marc Breuers , Roger Yasukawa , Rafael Sperafico , Sepp Koster , Matt Plumb , Juan Manuel Polar , Jon Morley