Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sebring Test Notes

Now that the first open test of 2007 has wound up at Sebring, Here’s a quick recap of the 3 day test which featured the debut of Champ Cars “Car of the Future;’ the Panoz DP-01...

Day 1:
The opening day of testing shed very little light upon team’s final driver line-up’s with the Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing team electing to sit out the seasons first test, while some of the other teams were at half strength or testing un-confirmed drivers…

Jimmy Vasser did make a surprise return to the cockpit for PKV Racing. But don’t get your hopes up, Vasser just wanted a crack at the new Panoz to help with driver development in the upcoming season… (“Yeah that’s the Ticket!” What better excuse for a team owner to come up with who’s itching to drive a Champ Car once again)

Vasser has just completed running in this year’s Rolex 24 along with several other former and current Champ Car standouts…

Having the most fun was Alex Tagliani who has a penchant for NOT liking to do seat fittings… As the Rocketsports team had to mold a fourth seat at Sebring as TAG was unhappy with the first three seats the team had made…

The Champ Car driver roster swell to a full dozen pilots present vs. the just increased total of 7 confirmed drivers for 2007…

Yet nothing seemed too different from the ending of 2006 with Sebastian Bourdais topping the time sheets aboard his Newman/Haas Panoz followed by new Red Bull PKV Racing recruit Neal Jani who was making his Champ Car debut. Jani bested “Sand Dune” Tracy and the other participants…

Day 2:
The second day of testing saw the most Champ Car participants on track for the three days of testing with 17 drivers taking part in the day’s activities…

And while the front of the grid didn’t change much with “Sea Bass” and “Sand Dune” Tracy grabbing the top two spots… The next two drivers caused a slight stir as Dale Coyne’s two “guest” testers locked up P3 & P4 with Katherine Legge leading Bruno Junqueira who’s still searching for a ride…

Day 3:
Stamping his name to not only the top of the day’s time sheet, but the fastest time overall for the three day test was currently unemployed driver Oriol Servia…

Servia whose good friends with Jimmy Vasser was given the nod to take over testing of the team’s second car as Vasser was off to Daytona for the upcoming Rolex 24…

Following Servia was Neil Jani acting as Servia’s “wingman” as PKV Racing grabbed the first two slots on the day’s time sheets, followed closely by “Sand Dune” Tracy…

And don’t you just love the Media? Watching the Speed report their announcers stated that overall there were 14 drivers taking turns behind the wheel, while earlier published results listed 17 drivers including Jimmy Vasser…

Meanwhile the Panoz DP-01’s overall performance was generally good with the exception of numerous teams repeatedly reporting troubles with the new sequential shafting’s downshifts.

Several drivers either complained of the downshifts being too slow, not working at all or of broken gearboxes. As Junqueira noted: “If your car won’t downshift then it really doesn’t matter what your lap time is…”

Hopefully we’ll have a clearer picture of the 2007 Champ Car line-up when the teams show up for he series second open test at Houston’s Motorsports Ranch in February…

Tuesday (Day 1)
1) Sebastian Bourdais (51.024 seconds/117.756 mph) 2) Neal Jani: (51.620) 3) Paul Tracy (51.70)

Wednesday (Day 2)
1) Bourdais (50.888) 2) Tracy 50.960) 3) Katherine Legge (51.060)

Thursday (Day 3)
1) Oriol Servia (50.741) 2) Jani (50.904) 3) Tracy (50.925)


Teams:
(2) Dale Coyne Racing: Bruno Junqueira, Katherine Legge
(1) Forsythe Championship Racing: P. Tracy
(2) Minardi Team USA: Robert Doornbos, Nelson Philippe
(2) Newman/Haas Racing: S. Bourdais, Graham Rahal
(2) Pacific Coast Motorsports: Alex Figge, Ryan Dalziel
(3) Red Bull PKV Racing: N. Jani, Oriol Servia, Jimmy Vasser
(1) Rocketsports Racing: Alex Tagliani
(2) RuSPORT: Justin Wilson, Mario Dominguez
(2) Team Australia: Simon Pagenaud, Will Power

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