Rahal: Panoz faster than Lola ANGLETON, Texas – The second of three open tests in preparation for the 2007 Champ Car World Series season concluded today at the 2.38-mile road course at MSR Houston. McDonald’s driver Sebastien Bourdais was again joined at the test by Graham Rahal, who ran while the team continues exploring sponsorship for a possible program this season.
On Monday Bourdais completed a total of 56 laps with a best lap time of 1:30.378 (94.802 mph) to end the day ranked second overall and ran 100 laps on Tuesday with a lap time of 1:10.333 that earned a rank of fourth fastest overall for the two day test. On Monday Rahal completed a total of 54 laps with a best lap time of 1:33.163 (91.968) to end the day ranked sixth overall and ran 97 laps on Tuesday with a lap time of 1:10.079 that was second fastest overall for the two days. Will Power was quickest with a lap time of 1:10.040. Testing was limited on Monday due to rain but it subsided late in the afternoon and Tuesday’s test ran under clear conditions.
“We finally were able to do some work on the car and it was good,” said Bourdais. “We had four tenths (of a second) on the field in the early afternoon today but the last couple of hours we had some minor problems and didn’t improve at the end. We had a gearbox issue and the red flags interfered with getting a fast lap time late in the day. We were able to run a 10-flat but the red came out and the lap didn’t count but it was good to know we were able to run the time. The car was good but I’m not sure the conditions were representative of anything we will have on a race weekend. The track rubbered in so much and that typically won’t happen during a race weekend. The car reacts like a Champ Car though and the changes we made improved the areas we thought they would which is good. We did quite a few standing starts and I am fairly happy. I didn’t stall once and we found a technique we liked. It should be interesting in the races.”
“I’m pretty happy with our lap time especially since we didn’t use Push to Pass to get it and we know most people did,” said Rahal. “We planned to use Push to Pass on the next set of new tires but when we put them on we had some handling issues and never got to it so it’s great to know we did our fast lap time without it. Looking at the data from the Lola test we did here in Houston, this car is quicker than the Lola in a lot of areas on the track. The car is getting there and I think it will continue to surprise people as it gets faster and faster. It’s enjoyable to drive.”
“The rain limited our progress on Monday but we were able to run through a lot of the program today,” added Brian Lisles, general manager of Newman/Haas Racing. “We are looking forward to the next test in Laguna Seca before the season-opener in Las Vegas.”
The 2007 Champ Car World Series season begins on April 6-8 with the Vegas Grand Prix. The series will hold Spring Training at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca March 8-10. NHR PR
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