Rocketsports Houston Testing Report Rocketsports Racing and Champ Car driver Alex Tagliani hit the Mercedes Benz of Sugar Land Road Course outside of Houston, Texas on Monday and Tuesday for their second Champ Car open test in the 2007 pre-season. Despite wet conditions on Monday, the team was able to log over 233 miles and further expand their knowledge of the new Panoz Champ Car as they work to find a car that will put them back in victory lane this season.
“Unfortunately, with all the rain on Monday, we did not get much time to run during the first day of the test,” said Tagliani, who piloted the #8 Rocketsports Cosworth/Panoz/Bridgestone for Rocketsports this week. “The weather really hurt us because it kept us from analyzing our changes and moving forward to finding a faster car. In conditions like that, when we made changes we were not sure whether those changes made the car better in certain areas on the track, or if the track was just dry in those spots. So we hoped for a better day on Tuesday.
“With partly sunny skies, we did see more ideal conditions during our second day of the test, which helped us complete a full day of testing. What is important for us at this point in the pre-season is that we get a good understanding of what the car wants and needs to do out on the track. We are working real hard to get a car that will be competitive for the first race in April. We found some changes that we believe made the car better and we found some that made the car worse, which obviously was a positive for the team as we continue to get on the path for success for Rocketsports this season.”
On Monday, Tagliani and the team managed to run 19 laps on the wet track, recording the fastest time of 1:35.714 (89.517 mph) on the 2.380-mile permanent road course during the afternoon session. Tuesday morning’s session saw Tagliani sitting eighth on the Champ Car timing and scoring chart, after recording a time of 1:12.368 (118.395 mph). In the afternoon he improved that time posting a 1:12.161 (118.734 mph). The team was able to log 79 laps on their second day of testing.
Finishing the test with the fastest recorded time of 1:12.161 (118.734 mph), the combined report after the fourth practice session placed Tagliani and the Rocketsports 14th in a tight field of 18 Champ Cars that were tested in Houston. Despite not being one of the faster cars of the test, Tagliani felt that the team and the car could have been higher up on the Champ Car timing and scoring chart.
“We put on new Bridgestone Potenza tires at the end of the test,” continued Tagliani. “We were hoping to get a clean lap in with those on to see what kind of difference they made. But it was rushed, and there were a lot of cars out on track, so I ended up in traffic which resulted in not having a good lap. However, our last lap of the test saw us record a fairly good time, but not as good as I feel we could have posted. If we could have had a clear track, then I feel that the car would have run a time similar to Paul Tracy’s Forsythe car, which would have seen us higher up in the middle of the field.”
Overall, the team and Tagliani’s reflection was positive. “We are playing a bit of catch up to the other teams because we did not get to run as much as they did during the first test in Sebring, but we are not too far behind,” added Tagliani. “What is important is that we understand what the car wants to do, and even more so now with having more time to run it during this second test in Houston. So the team now knows what they can do to move things up to the next level for when they test again in a few weeks at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Winning the test is not why we go out there, and the times that we posted do not by any means reflect the capability of the Rocketsports team. Great results do not just happen overnight, but I feel that we are heading in the right direction and that great results for the team will come this season.”
The team will look forward to their final open season test allotted by Champ Car before the 2007 season opener in Las Vegas, Nevada, April 8. The final of three Champ Car open tests, Spring Training, will be held at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, in Monterey, California on March 9-10. Rocketsports Racing PR