Carl Skerlong Motorsport News Mukilteo, Washington – Carl Skerlong is wasting little time in dialing himself in to the demands of competing in the 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda as the 18-year-old rookie powered his #24 King Taco/US RaceTronics Swift Mazda-Cosworth into the top-five in pre-season testing at MSR Houston.
The reigning Formula TR Pro Series 2000 Champion posted the fifth fastest lap time around the 2.38-mile road course on Saturday with a best of 1m18.915s (108.573mph). With top honors going to Canada’s James Hinchcliffe, the sophomore racer setting a 1m18.345s lap (109.362mph), the sheer competitiveness of the Champ Car Atlantic Championship was again evidenced by the fact that the top-ten runners, from a field of 25 title aspirants, were separated by less than a second.
The two-day test in Texas kicked off on Friday with cool conditions greeting the field as the second of three official pre-season tests got underway. Having sampled the track previously with the US RaceTronics team, Carl’s focus was on further developing his understanding of the 300bhp Swift 016.a and he continued to highlight himself as a quick learner. Skerlong wrapped Friday’s test with a best time of 1m19.589s (107.653mph), fast enough for seventh overall on the timesheets behind Hinchcliffe’s field-leading time of 1m18.785s (108.752mph) in the #6 Sierra Sierra Enterprises entry.
Saturday’s outing would prove to be a cooler affair, temperatures sitting in the low 50’s throughout the day. The competition on-track proved to be as hot as ever though with Carl sitting comfortably in the lead group for the second consecutive day. Together with his rookie team-mate, Mexico’s David Garza, Skerlong showcased the combined talents of the California-based US RaceTronics outfit, one of only two teams to have both cars in the top-six by the end of the day.
Hinchcliffe capped Saturday’s test with a new track record, beating his Sierra Sierra team-mate and fellow sophomore racer, Brazil’s Raphael Matos to second place. Forsythe Racing’s John Edwards split the Sierra Sierra and US RaceTronics entrants in third with Garza placing fourth and Carl fifth to conclude a highly productive test outing for the Atlantic rookies.
“I think our success at this test was down to me figuring out a few more things with the car and the competitiveness of the team as a whole,” stated Skerlong. “Everything fell into place pretty quickly and we stuck to the game plan we’d set out prior to the test. We had a good couple of days in Texas but there’s still more work to do and more time to come from the package. We’re heading in the right direction and to run at the front consistently is a real confidence-booster as the season approaches!”
California’s Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca hosts the final pre-season test, 7th-8th March, before the inaugural ‘Vegas Grand Prix’, 6th-8th April in Las Vegas, Nevada, heralds the start of the 11-round 2007 Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda.