… and are ready to go racing in Las Vegas
RuSPORT and Justin Wilson hit the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit in Monterey, California for their third pre-season test in preparation for the 2007 Champ Car World Series season and their fight for the Vanderbilt Cup after finishing as the runner-up in last year's effort.
After two previous positive tests, which saw Wilson and the team get acclimated with the new Panoz Champ Car, this test was a chance to really get prepared and find a car that will be race ready for the season opener in Las Vegas. Running times that saw the #9 CDW Cosworth/Panoz/Bridgestone in-and-out of the top five throughout the two-day test, Wilson's final result placed him 7th on the Champ Car timing and scoring chart after completing over 342 miles and posting his best time of 1:06.755 (120.692 mph).
In the past, RuSPORT's two-car effort has helped the team to perform on-track. With only one-car confirmed, RuSPORT teamed up with fifth-year Champ Car team Rocketsports Racing as an attempt to work together as a two-car effort for this test and possibly in the 2007 season. It was proven to be beneficial for both sides, as the drivers and team members worked well and efficiently together, giving positive results that reflected both on-and-off the track.
Wilson and the CDW crew found themselves off to a good start, sitting in the top ten during the morning session on Friday, March 9 with only completing 16 laps. During the afternoon, Wilson recorded 29 laps and put forth his best time of 1:07.497 (119.365 mph) on the 2.238-mile permanent road course at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca circuit.
The new Panoz Champ Cars were up to speed immediately recording impressive times. The track-lap record from Champ Car's previous runs at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was a time of 1:07.722 set by Helio Castroneves in a Reynard Champ Car on September 9, 2000, and that time was blown away during the first session when the new Panoz Champ Cars hit the familiar asphalt. In the midst of all the excitement of the quick lap times, on Saturday Champ Car placed a $5,000 bounty to the first driver/team that could beat the track-record time of 1:06.309 set by Toyota's Formula 1 car last year.
With warmer temperatures and continued sunny skies, the team started Saturday morning's run in the sixth spot with a time of 1:06.870 (120.485 mph), logging 47 laps. Heading back out in the afternoon, Wilson's pace continued to increase as he ran in the top-three for most of the four-hour session.
Wilson's Saturday-end result was a time of 1:06.755 (120.692 mph) that was sixth-best, but it was just shy of setting a new record. However, three-time Champ Car Series champion Sebastien Bourdais did it and the end of the day when he recorded a 1:05.880 (122.295 mph), which is a great demonstration of just how fast these new Champ Car machines are and that they will promise some great racing in 2007 and beyond.
“I am very pleased with our results over the past two-days,” said Wilson. “We were only tenths off of the top of the field in the #9 CDW Cosworth/ Panoz/ Bridgestone, so we are quite pleased about that. I am not sure what Sebastien Bourdais is up too, he is on fire!
But I think that working with Rocketsports was a great opportunity, and we all worked very well together. It was definitely an advantage to have a teammate, especially an experienced one like Alex (Tagliani). I feel that we were both able to benefit from working together and it showed. I think overall it was a very positive experience as we prepare for our first race in April and I am ready to get CDW and RuSPORT in victory lane!”
“Overall, it was a good test for us,” commented Jeremy Dale, RuSPORT President. “Our goals were simple, we wanted to continue to run as many miles as we possibly could and gain as much understanding of the new Panoz Champ Car in order to make it as fast as we can.
I think that we were able to accomplish those things over the last two days, and it was a great experience to work with the Rocketsports crew. We achieved a lot, and with out a doubt, working with them added to the overall efficiency of this test. With the positive results we had during this test, we are really looking forward to our first race in a few weeks.”
The team will head back to their home-base in Colorado and begin preparations for the season opener on April 6-8. The 2007 Champ Car World Series season kicks off in downtown Las Vegas, Nevada, the first of a full 16-race schedule running from April to December.
– ChampCar –
11.03.2007 / MaP