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Stoddart happy with Doornbos debut
Former Minardi F1 Team driver, Robert Doornbos, today successfully completed his first test with Minardi Team USA, and pronounced himself very pleased with both the team and the Champ Car World Series’ new Panoz DP01 chassis. Starting on Tuesday morning, the Dutch driver quickly adapted to the new surroundings, and during the course of the first three practice sessions at Sebring International Raceway, steadily improved his times. By the conclusion of today’s morning session, he had accumulated a total of 80 laps of Sebring’s 1.669-mile short course and achieved a best lap time of 52.575 secs (114.282 mph).

“First of all, I want to say thank you to Paul Stoddart and Minardi Team USA for giving me this opportunity to test with the team and to have my first taste of the Panoz DP01. I have also received a very nice, warm welcome over the last two days from everyone in the Champ Car paddock,” Robert said. “The new car looks good and the signs are very promising for the new season. That said, this was the first shakedown for the car, and there were one or two small problems that had to be sorted. Combined with the fact I lost out on my new-tire runs, it meant the time wasn’t really there by the end of my scheduled running today. This test was as much about getting to know the team and the car, though, as it was about lap times. I was particularly impressed by Minardi Team USA’s engineering staff, and hopefully, there will be a chance to build on the work we’ve done here at the next test, in Houston.”

Minardi Team USA personnel spent Tuesday’s two sessions running systems checks on their new car, making the driver comfortable in the cockpit, fine-tuning the braking system and carrying out several evaluation runs before moving to a more concentrated program today. Having established a solid technical baseline for the team while also accumulating useful personal experience in the Panoz DP01, Doornbos now hands over to former CTE Racing - HVM driver, Nelson Philippe, for the remaining three practice sessions of the first official Champ Car test of the 2007 season.

“Due to unforeseen visa issues, which are now being investigated, a number of team members, including myself, have been unable to attend this week’s Champ Car test at Sebring,” said Paul Stoddart. “We have been keeping in touch with the team’s progress, however, and have been impressed by the performance of the Panoz DP01, the team, and our former driver, Robert Doornbos. He was unlucky with red flags, which denied him what should have been his quickest times, but he’s certainly done enough to impress the team and demonstrate his potential for the 2007 season. We look forward to another productive day tomorrow, as we continue to work with Nelson.”

“Considering this is a brand-new car, straight out of the box, the experience not only of Minardi Team USA, but also of the other teams present here in Sebring has been very positive,” added Keith Wiggins, Co-owner, Minardi Team USA. “As you would expect, there have been a few minor issues to sort out, involving areas such as software and the gearchange, but Champ Car has every reason to be very pleased. It has also been good for the team to get out and start working with the car, so that we can begin to understand it and how to tune it for optimum performance. Robert had the honor of being the first driver to run the Panoz DP01 for Minardi Team USA, and he’s everything we expected – calm, focused, precise and clear about what he wants from the car. Unfortunately, he lost new-tire runs yesterday and today as a result of red flags being thrown at inopportune moments, which undoubtedly prevented him from further improving his lap times, but all told, he has done a very professional job.” Minardi

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