Sato and Viso test at Barber

UPDATE Helio Castroneves, his Penske teammates Will Power and Ryan Briscoe, and drivers Charlie Kimball, E.J. Viso, Takuma Sato and Vitor Meira were at Barber on Tuesday for a test session ahead of the larger IZOD IndyCar Series open test March 14-16.

Power said the teams decided to get a head start on the open test just to get a feel for the cars again after the long offseason.

"I haven't driven on a road course in probably six months," said Power, who won IndyCar's road course championship last year and finished a close second to Dario Franchitti for the overall title.

Power said the early test didn't give his team much of an advantage over other teams.

"Everybody tests here so you don't really gain a lot," he said.

Castroneves said the session was more about getting comfortable behind the wheel again than it was about trying to get the car ready for the April 10 race.

He said that lap times were about 2.5 seconds off the pole qualifying time from last year, but that wasn't unusual considering the track didn't have much rubber on it.

He also said the team wasn't spending much time worrying about setting up the car to handle particular corners on the Barber course. Barber is considered a highly technical track with a combination of high-speed and low-speed corners.

"And you don't have any in the middle," Castroneves said.

Setting up the car to handle high-speed corners well often means sacrificing handling in the low-speed turns. The trick, Castroneves said, is to try to find a middle ground between them.

The series open test will not be open to the public. However, anyone who signs up as a race volunteer will be able to attend the session on Monday, March 14.

Barber officials are limiting ticket sales and say they expect to sell out. Those buying tickets to the Barber race — or any other IndyCar race this season — will also be eligible for free tickets to the season finale at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 16.

Beginning March 21 and for seven days after the end of the Barber race, ticket holders can go to and register for free tickets. The offer is limited to the first 80,000 who register.

03/01/11 KV Racing Technology – Lotus and drivers Takuma Sato and E. J. Viso had a successful first test in preparation for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season today at Barber Motorsports Park in Birmingham, Alabama.

Today’s test was a “shakedown" with both drivers running approximately 100 miles in an effort to “knock some of the rust off" prior to the IZOD IndyCar Series Open Test on March 14-15, also at Barber.

“KV Racing Technology – Lotus had a successful test and I am extremely pleased with the job Team Manager Tom Wurtz and his entire staff did today," said KVRT – Lotus General Manager Mark Johnson. “This was our first pre-season test and first with Tom running the show. It went off without a hitch as would be expected of someone with his experience. We started off a little slow with a couple of spins, but finished the day strong."

Sato, who will be driving the No. 5 KV Racing Technology – Lotus Honda/Dallara/Firestone car in his second IndyCar season both with KVRT – Lotus, said, “It was nice to get back in the car again especially since it has been a long time since we were last on a road course. This was a shakedown test, so we had limited mileage, but we were able to evaluate a few items before the open test at Barber in two weeks, which is important. It was also good to get back to work with the team. We have a few new faces so it was good to get together. We still have to look at the data, but overall I feel it was a very successful test."

Viso, behind the wheel of the No. 8 PDVSA – KV Racing Technology – Lotus Honda/Dallara/Firestone entry, is entering his fourth IndyCar season, second with KVRT – Lotus and first with Lotus livery said, ““This was the first test of the season for the KV Racing Technology – Lotus team and I am very excited with how things went. We made a lot of progress with all the things we tested and are definitely in a better position heading into the open test at Barber in two weeks. The atmosphere with the team is very positive. Everybody is working hard as we get ready for the season, so I feel good about the way things are going."

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