Rahal 2nd fastest in Houston
Graham Rahal concluded two day's of Champ Car testing with Newman Haas Racing at the MSR Houston this week, finishing second fastest overall, and top rookie driver of the field, less than four thousandths of a second from the fastest time.
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. The fastest lap was posted by Will Power, and at 1:10:040, only narrowly beat Rahal.
"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."
Rahal also practiced race starts, in preparation for the new standing-start procedure - which will go into effect at the start of the 2007 season. This new regulation will be introduced for the first race weekend of the Series, in Las Vegas, marking the first time that the starting method will be used in the modern era of Champ Car World Series competition, although Rahal has plenty of recent experience with these starts in the Atlantic Series.
He says, "It's much more difficult to do the starts in Champ Car because there's so much more power," Rahal said. "It's hard to put the power down on these cars as it is. In third gear coming out of a corner it can be hard to do so doing it from a stop is a tough thing, especially when it is wet."
The 2007 Champ Car World Series season begins on April 6-8 with the Vegas Grand Prix.
Tuesday session times follow (laps run figure is for the entire two-day test):
1) Will Power - #5 Team Australia - 1:10.040/122.330 mph/111 laps
2) Graham Rahal - #2 Newman/Haas Racing - 1:10:079/122.262/151 laps
3) Neel Jani - #21 Red Bull PKV Racing - 1:10:168/122.107/119 laps
4) Sebastien Bourdais - #1 McDonald's/Newman/Haas Racing - 1:10:333/121.820/156
5) Bruno Junqueira - #19 Dale Coyne Racing - 1:10.560/121.429/87 laps
6) Simon Pagenaud - #15 Team Australia - 1:10:776/121.058/91 laps
7) Nelson Philippe - #34 Conquest Racing - 1:11:035/120.167/116 laps
8) Justin Wilson - #9 CDW/RuSPORT - 1:11:179/120.373/157 laps
9) Robert Doornbos - #4 Minardi Team USA - 1:11:216/120.310/135 laps
10) Oriol Servia - #10 RuSPORT - 1:11:257/120.241/191 laps
11) Paul Tracy - #3 Indeck/Forsythe Championship Racing - 1:11:591/119.860/79 laps
12) Katherine Legge - #11 Dale Coyne Racing - 1:11:607/119.653/93 laps
13) Ryan Dalziel - #28 Pacific Coast Motorsports - 1:11:658/119.568/118 laps
14) Alex Tagliani - #8 Rocketsports Racing - 1:12:161/118.734/98 laps
15) Alex Figge - #29 Pacific Coast Motorsports - 1:13:567/116.465/115 laps
Graham Rahal PR