Rahal 2nd, Wilson 5th at Sebring Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing drivers Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson completed the first of three open tests prior to the start of the 2008 Champ Car World Series after two-and-one-half days of running on the 1.669-mile course at Sebring International Raceway. A full day of testing took place on Saturday and Sunday and the test concluded at 12 noon ET today, all during warm, sunny conditions.
Graham Rahal was one of only two drivers to break into the 49 second barrier
At the end of testing on Saturday, Wilson and Rahal were third and sixth fastest, respectively, of 14 cars while on Sunday they were second and third respectively. Rookie Franck Montagny, who was driving for Forsythe Pettit Racing, set the fastest lap times both days. During the four hours of testing on Monday most drivers improved their lap times and Rahal ended the test second fastest overall with a lap time of 49.950 while Wilson set the fifth fastest time of the test with a lap of 50.207. Former Atlantic series runner-up Franck Perera set the fastest lap time of the test at 49.806 on Monday while driving a Conquest Racing entry.
“I certainly didn’t expect to be as far up (on the time sheets) as we are but I’m definitely happy about it,” said Rahal who ran a total of 238 laps during the test. “I tend to struggle at this track specifically. As a team we made a lot of leaps forward in car development and we’ve got a good idea of what we need to accomplish in the next tests and during the season. Justin and I certainly work well together. We like similar car setups which helps a lot.”
“I’m very pleased with the way the test has gone,” added Wilson, who ran approximately 269 laps over the 2.5 days. “The team has worked hard to make me comfortable in the car and it feels good. I’m not sure how relevant the results of this test in Sebring will be but we learned some things to build on. We did well here and stayed disciplined and hopefully learned some things that will help us be competitive this season. I’m looking forward to building on our program at the next test at Laguna Seca.”
“We are very pleased with the progress made at the test,” said Brian Lisles, general manager of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. “We had a change in our driver lineup and a few personnel and everyone accomplished most, if not all, of the test program. We had a trouble-free test and laid the foundation for a competitive season in Champ Car.”
The 2008 Champ Car World Series season begins on April 20 with the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The series will hold tests at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca (March 13-14) and MSR Houston (March 28-29) prior to the season-opener.
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