The Arizona test was just what the doctor ordered for Walker Racing newcomers, Greg and Leo Mansell, sons of former Champ Car champion Nigel Mansell, and Canadian Kevin Lacroix. Seat time and miles are what the trio needed as they logged a number of laps and stayed on pace with fellow Champ Car Atlantic competitors who were testing at Firebird International Raceway as well.
Lacroix, a native of Saint-Eustache, Quebec, Canada, got his start competing in various karting series in 1996 winning multiple championships, and continued to move up the ladder finishing second in the 2005 Formula BMW USA championship with four victories and six podiums, finished second in the 2006 Star Mazda championship with five podiums and ten top-five results and earned the Star Mazda Rookie of the Year title. Last October the 18 year old tested with Walker Racing and for 2007 joined Brooks Racing Champ Car Atlantic program in Portland scoring his first Champ Car Atlantic victory in just his second career start at Portland and signed with Walker Racing in August of 2007.
The Canadian found the speed he was looking for, “We found our speed over the last couple of days and had it there in the end. We got more laps in and are definitely getting there."
Gaining more experience in the Atlantic cars, the duo strapped into the Swift 016a. chassis for the third time. “We definitely jumped forward with progress. It was a good two days and we made the changes we needed to and adapted well to them," commented Greg Mansell.
The Mansell brothers have always competed on the same teams together starting out in karts, making their way up the open wheel ladder, competing in the Formula BMW UK championship in 2006 and the British F3 International Series in 2007. The duo wanted to try the Atlantic series, due to its international appeal and potential for moving forward in the ranks of professional racing and signed with Walker Racing in November.
Leo felt the same sentiments as his brother, “I really feel we are starting to move in the right direction. The test was very successful and we made a lot of headway," stated Leo Mansell.
After a successful two days in Arizona it was off to Buttonwillow Raceway in California. Unfortunately due to bad weather the team was unable to complete their third test, but was able to save their test days for a later date.
“Originally we were endeavoring to complete a series of tests before the open season testing began. We wanted to compete on race tracks with other teams to help broaden the experience of our new drivers and some of our new team members, so needless to say it was a little bit of a setback, but not a major one. We had a very successful test in Arizona and finished right on pace with the other teams that were testing with," said Derrick Walker, Walker Racing owner.