Times come tumbling down in Sebring

As they have done for much of their four years waging war in the Champ Car World Series, Sebastien Bourdais and Paul Tracy led the way in today's second round of Champ Car preseason testing in Sebring.

Bourdais moved to within a second of the unofficial record for the 1.8-mile Sebring International Raceway short course, stopping the clocks at 50.888 seconds (118.071 mph). Bourdais was followed closely by Tracy, who carved out a best time of 50.960 seconds (117.904 mph). The two were the only members of the 15-driver field to break the 51-second barrier on a cloudy Wednesday, although 11 drivers got their new Panoz DP01 chassis under 52 seconds.

Bourdais, who has led each of the first two Sebring test days, suffered problems that held him to 55 laps and forced the Newman/Haas team to go back to Ground Zero this afternoon.

"We had trouble today and ended up re-baselining the car, so we basically set today's time with yesterday's car," Bourdais admitted. "We didn't make a step forward today, but I think we have everything set for a good day tomorrow.

Tracy was held to 42 laps by similar trouble, but his Forsythe Championship Racing team sent the newly-liveried blue-and-white #3 Cosworth/Panoz/Bridgestone on course at the end of the day to turn some quick laps.

"The problems kept us from getting into our testing program for the day, but to be second on the time sheets is very encouraging," told Tracy. "The car feels good and I think we have a good line on it, but we haven't had enough track time to start making changes to see how they affect the car."

Katherine Legge ran her Dale Coyne Racing machine to third place on the speed sheets, logging in with a 51.060-second (117.673 mph) tour of the Sebring facility. Three-time Champ Car season runner-up Bruno Junqueira made his first appearance of the preseason, taking the #19 Dale Coyne Racing Cosworth/Panoz/Bridgestone to the fourth spot on the charts with a time of 51.108 seconds (117.563 mph).

"I am very happy, I like the car and I think we had a good day in it," Junqueira said. "I knew if I could be at this test and drive, I could help a team get into the top five and it would be good for both of us. I am very happy to have worked with Dale and I was pleased to see the progress the team and Katherine today as well."

Mario Dominguez rounded out the top five today after posting a time of 51.166 seconds (117.430 mph) in his second day with RuSPORT. Dominguez was chased on the charts by teammate Justin Wilson's best lap of 51.273 seconds (1171.84 mph).

"We should have gone even faster, the best lap we ran was on 45-lap-old tires," grinned Dominguez after logging 66 testing laps today. "I am fully confident that we are capable of running the fastest time in the session with this car and this team. I love the new car, I like the new technology, I like the gearbox and the aero package, it's a good car to drive."

Jimmy Vasser was seventh on the speed sheets, followed by rookies Neel Jani and Graham Rahal. Last year's Roshfrans Rookie of the Year Will Power turned his first laps of 2007 with Team Australia while two-time Bosch Most Improved Driver Nelson Philippe split time in the Minardi Team USA machine with Robert Doornbos.

The test wraps up tomorrow at Sebring with seven hours of testing time scheduled, beginning at 8 a.m.

Wednesday's testing times follow:

1) Sebastien Bourdais – #1 Newman/Haas Racing – 50.888 seconds/118.071 mph/56 laps
2) Paul Tracy – #3 Forsythe Championship Racing – 50.960/117.904/42 laps
3) Katherine Legge – #11 Dale Coyne Racing – 51.060/117.673/47 laps
4) Bruno Junqueira – #19 Dale Coyne Racing – 51.108/117.563/46 laps
5) Mario Dominguez – #10 RuSPORT – 51.166/117.430/66 laps
6) Justin Wilson – #9 RuSPORT – 51.273/117.184/73 laps
7) Jimmy Vasser – #12 Red Bull PKV Racing – 51.520/116.623/53 laps
8) Neel Jani – #21 Red Bull PKV Racing – 51.533/116.593/48 laps
9) Graham Rahal – #2 Newman/Haas Racing – 51.631/116.372/74 laps
10) Will Power – #5 Team Australia – 51.839/115.905/76 laps
11) Alex Tagliani – #8 Rocketsports Racing – 51.973/115.606/32 laps
12) Nelson Philippe – #4 Minardi Team USA – 52.410/114.642/22 laps
13) Alex Figge – #29 Pacific Coast Motorsports – 52.531/114.378/56 laps
14) Robert Doornbos – #4X Minardi Team USA – 52.575/114.282/25 laps
15) Ryan Dalziel – #28 Pacific Coast Motorsports – 53.217/112.904/32 laps

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