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Latest CART News and Commentary

Bourdais completes 2nd test for Newman Haas

January 9, 2003

Sebastien Bourdais of France
Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

SEBRING, Fla. --- Reigning FIA F3000 Champion Sebastien Bourdais, 23, completed his second of two allowed "driver evaluation" test days for potential rookies as per CART rules (13.6.1A.3) yesterday and further impressed Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) with his driving and technical abilities. Under clear skies, and a steady breeze of mid-60-degree temperatures, Bourdais completed approximately 200 trouble-free miles on the 1.65-mile road course at Sebring International Raceway in what was NHR's first test with the Lilly Ford/Cosworth-Lola-Bridgestone package.

"We only managed to run Sebastien for one day in our test in December because he had a previous driving commitment so we were pleased to give him a second day," said Brian Lisles, General Manager of Newman/Haas Racing. "He picked up right where he left off."

After winning their fourth CART championship last season with Cristiano da Matta, the team is currently moving toward naming a teammate for Bruno Junqueira, who moved to the team after finishing second to da Matta in 2002.

"The team was concentrating on putting as many miles on the car as possible and we were able to accomplish that," said Bourdais. "At the end of day, the team worked on a set-up that they wanted to try and we were able to improve the car. My first impression of the Champ car when I drove it in December was really, really good. They fixed the worst conditions on the car so that they could evaluate my driving and my feedback. Overall, the Champ car is a bigger version of my F3000 based on my feeling inside the car. It is heavier but more aggressive and powerful. We ran 2003 specs yesterday and the feeling was slightly different due to the intended power reduction but the performance of the car is very similar. With more time, I think I could have gotten very close to the lap time I ran in December. The team and I have worked well together. I think that for the moment a lot of drivers are very interested in CART. Half of the F3000 paddock attended the last few CART races so it is quite an attractive series. The level of driving is very high in CART. When you consider the example of Bruno coming here from F3000 and doing well, I think it makes others take notice."

"Lola and Cosworth have done a good job," added Lisles. "The transition went more smoothly than we had expected. We only received the engines immediately before we closed for the holidays and in reality we were running the engine less than one working week since we received the parts for the first time. The crew used all of their experience to get the car completed as soon as possible including working over the weekend so that we could be ready for the test."

Junqueira will take over testing duties on Thursday and Friday for his first test with the team. The next scheduled test for Newman/Haas Racing will take place at the Mazda Raceway at Laguna Seca on January 25-27.

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