New Champ Car hits Road America
Elkhart Lake – A new look Road America welcomed Champ Car teams and their new DP01 chassis to the classic 4.048-mile layout in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin as Team Australia’s Will Power (#5 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and Simon Pagenaud (#15 Aussie Vineyards Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) topped the time sheets.
Power turned a quick lap of 1m43.75 seconds during the afternoon session edging the rookie Pagenaud’s time of 1m43.87 seconds. Third on the speed charts was Conquest Racing’s Jan Heylen (#34 Champ Car Grand Prix of Belgium Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) who was fastest in the morning session.
“It was good out there today,” said the Belgian driver Heylen. “The team and the driver did a good job and we only used four sets of tires. Our morning session went really well and when you’re quick like that it gives everyone a boost. I’m really happy with the progress we’ve made. It was difficult coming in to this drive after an eight month layoff and I was a couple of laps short of getting to know the car after my one day test and the Portland race weekend. We are making progress now and I really like it.”
At the other end of the spectrum, Forsythe Championship Racing struggled in the first day of testing in Elkhart Lake. Oriol Servia (#7 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) and Paul Tracy (#3 Indeck Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) were 10th and 11th respectively.
“We are out here just trying to learn some things,” said the 2003 series champion Tracy. “We are trying to save miles and do one lap runs because the track is so long and it is tough to get a time in that way. We are focusing on learning more about the DP01 and not as much about how to get the car ready for just one race here. This place takes a couple of laps to get a quick time and I think tomorrow we’ll be able to do that.”
PKV Racing’s Tristan Gommendy (#22 Pay by Touch-Megaspiera Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone) was the only car damaged during the first day of testing as he made contact in Turn 7 near the end of the session.
As they drove into Road America, the teams and drivers were welcomed be a new tunnel, which replaced the bridge entrance into the paddock. The tunnel was just one of many improvements made to the track during the winter and though Tracy said it took him a couple of laps to get a new reference point for the final turn, Jan Heylen echoed many of the drivers’ feelings.
“From a safety perspective it is an improvement to add the tunnel,” said Heylen. “The track was a little more challenging with the bridge, but safety is the number one priority. All of the changes are quite nice especially the bigger curbs in Turn 5.”
Testing will continue at Road America tomorrow and then the teams will pack up and head to Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport for the Champ Car Grand Prix of Cleveland Presented by LaSalle Bank. Round 5 gets underway on Friday, June 22 with the race on Sunday, June 24 live on CBS Sports at 1:00 pm ET.
June 18 Lap Times at Road America
1. Will Power 1m43.75 seconds
2. Simon Pagenaud 1m43.87
3. Jan Heylen 1m44.68
4. Robert Doornbos 1m44.73
5. Neel Jani 1m44.80
6. Justin Wilson 1m45.86
7. Alex Tagliani 1m45.09
8. Tristan Gommendy 1m45.25
9. Graham Rahal 1m45.28
10. Oriol Servia 1m45.30
11. Paul Tracy 1m45.97 Champ Car PR