Spring Training Tech Stuff
Back to Spring Training Start
Yeah, the tech guys were nervous. A lot was on the line. Ganassi
switched to Toyota power and the Toy boys seemed to step up to
the plate and take a big swing. Word from early testing was that
Juan Montoya and Jimmy Vasser were pleasantly surprised at the
power and reliability of the engines.
Ilmor/M-B engines needed to show some gains. The brand new
Cosworth/Ford engine seemed the front runner. Honda, usually
the most powerful and reliable but also heaviest, hoped to keep
Last year's Reynard disappointed some of the teams, who thought
the company was spending time and money on F1 instead of CART.
At Spring Training Ganassi brought Lolas saying they were still
evaluating them. I'll bet that's negotiating talk. They would
have brought Reynards also if they hadn't already decided to
Newman-Haas racing also switched from Swifts to Lolas. Michael
Andretti told me the car is very responsive to changes, "It
reacts to changes the way you expect a racecar to react,"
he told me.
The main guys at Lola responsible for the recovery are Ben
Bowlby, chief designer, having a cold drink and Frank Dernie,
head of engineering.
The Lola effort was not, however, without glitches. Here's
a photo of a spacer add-on to the Lola nose.
I asked one person what the part was and was told, "It's
a part of the Newman-Haas test program."
I like asking several people the same question. The next answer
came with a smile, "It's highly technical."
"Just getting the wing out further for a longer moment
arm on the force?" I asked.
"Yes," was the reply. "Getting it to the full
extent of the rules."
"Why would you ever run it any other way?" I asked.
Another sheepish grin, "Not to be discussed."
I laughed. "Sounds like a little miscommunication."
"Yes, that must be it," came the reply. I walked
on not wanting to press my luck.
Wednesday's Track Sessions
Michael Andretti got up to speed quickly in the Wednesday
morning session, but by noon Kenny Brack, driving for Team Rahal
had the quickest time, 26.531 sec. and 203.807 mph. Andretti
was second with Brack's teammate, Max Papis, third. The top five
cars were Ford-powered with two Lolas and three Reynards. The
quickest Toyota was Jimmy Vasser, 9th and 0.7 seconds back of
The PM session saw the top three Ford-powered: Papis, Brack,
and Patrick Carpentier driving for Players/Forsythe racing. Juan
Montoya's Toyota/Lola earned fourth.
Dario Franchitti ran with a pitot tube mounted high above
his roll bar. A pitot probe measures the difference between dynamic
pressure and static pressure which is a direct correlation with
air speed. The probe is high enough to see straight, clean air
undisturbed by tires and wings.
The Players/Forsythe team tried this nose with two extra sets
of wings. The flat plates ahead of the wing are easy to see but
another set of short wings are just behind the main wings.
Winners and Losers
The combined times for the two days show Max Papis ran the
quickest times. Papis did a lap in 25.760 sec. at 209.907 mph.
His teammate, Brack was next followed by Michael Andretti in
a Lola. Jimmy Vasser was fourth quick in a Toyota/Lola with his
teammate Montoya sixth. The best a Honda-powered car could do
was Gil de Ferran in 10th 0.8 sec. slower than Papis. Three Lolas
in top 10.
The lone Swift driven by Bryan Herta for Steve Horne's Jerry
Forsythe-owned team was dog slow more than two seconds slower
than Papis. The best Ilmor/M-B powered car was Mark Blundell
The new Ford/Cosworth engine is the Winner. The Ilmor/M-B
engine is the Loser. Best Improved is a tie between
Lola and Toyota.
It'll be a great season.