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Sebring testing wrap-up
 Tagliani lights it up
March 29, 2004

Tagliani Battles Back – A spin and light contact with the frontstretch wall with 30 minutes to go in Friday’s final session prevented the three days of Champ Car testing from being incident-free, but Alex Tagliani (#8 Johnson Controls Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone) and his Rocketsports team didn’t let a little thing like a broken front wing end their day.

The team bolted a new wing section on its 750hp Champ Car and the veteran Tagliani immediately went back to work as the sun slipped out of site. Still on course as the 6:30 end-of-day time approached, Tagliani and Rocketsports used the last remaining bits of daylight to post the best time of the weekend according to unofficial timing from Cosworth Racing. Tagliani stopped the watches at 50.25 on one of his final laps to eclipse Sebastien Bourdais’ 50.55 from Thursday as the best time of the week.

Servia Still Searching – Former Patrick Racing driver Oriol Servia completed the most successful Champ Car season of his four-year career in 2003 but when Patrick Racing went out of business in the off-season, Servia found himself prowling the pits in search of a seat for the 2004 season. The Spaniard, who scored three podium finishes including runner-up placements at Milwaukee and Montreal, spent all three days in Sebring, alternating between talking to teams and training on his bicycle.

“I’ve got a couple things that look like they might work out,” Servia said. “I’m just trying everything I can, talking to teams and seeing what we can work out because this is where I want to be.”

Philippe Pushes – Nelson Philippe has one of the slickest rides of any 17-year old when he is on the track, as he straps into the #17 Lease Plan Ford-Cosworth/Lola/Bridgestone to do battle in the Champ Car World Series. But off the track, his ride is equally impressive as the youngster showed when he made the run from his Miami home to Sebring in his dark-green Hummer.

There was plenty of parking room for the military-based vehicle in the vast parking lots of Sebring but Philippe ruefully admits that space can be a concern on the streets.

“I have trouble finding parking spots at home,” he grinned. “Sometimes I have to park halfway on the curb, but sometimes I have to push another car a little bit to make some room. Nothing damaging, just finding a little space.”

Michel Hunter-Allmendinger? – When Michel Jourdain Jr. took over testing chores for RuSPORT Friday, replacing the ailing A.J. Allmendinger, he had to beg and borrow some gear in order to get the job done.

Jourdain had come to Sebring to see some friends when he was enlisted into duty due to the bursitis in Allmendinger’s right arm. The emergency call forced Jourdain to borrow one of Allmendinger’s race helmets, but the Mexican had to go elsewhere for a race suit. New Herdez pilot Ryan Hunter-Reay came to the rescue, loaning Jourdain a suit he carried with him from his Toyota Atlantic days, meaning that those fans and media that came to the test had no idea who was in the bright yellow RuSPORT machine until the end of the day when Jourdain climbed out.

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