CART drivers not so pleased with changes

Champ Car drivers on hand at Tuesday's special test at Michigan International Speedway were pleased that the modifications CART hopes to implement for the two superspeedway races this year were successful at reducing speeds. But they weren't entirely complimentary about the way the extended Handford Device rear wing made their cars behave

CART drivers not so pleased with changes

"The car feels numb," said Team Rahal's Max Papis. "It feels very much the same, but the number I see on the dash is a lot smaller. We're flat out all around, but you can't really tell if the car has understeer or oversteer."

Team Green's Dario Franchitti never got his Honda/Reynard balanced to his liking. But he said several factors may have been involved.

"Everything happens a little slower, for sure," Franchitti said. "All day we were working to get the balance that we want. I was never happy with our car all day. Was that a reflection of the car or the wing? I don't know. For sure, the whole car is moving about a lot more. But there was a lot of rubber on the track from the NASCAR guys who were here over the weekend. Traditionally, our cars don't work well with that. So that might have masked things even more. But we've got a bit of work to do before we come back here.

"From CART's perspective, it was a very successful test," Franchitti added. "This was an exercise in slowing down the cars and it was successful. If we did not do this test, I think the anticipated speeds [for the race] would have been much higher because the cars are even more efficient this year both aerodynamically and engine wise."

CART hoped to organise a group run to simulate race conditions. But the Newman/Haas team packed up early and only two cars actually ever ran together.

"We tried to run in traffic, but that's very difficult to simulate," remarked defending series champion Gil de Ferran. "We won't get a full-blown view of that until race weekend arrives.

"I really wasn't comfortable enough with the car to start to think about doing running in traffic, so we didn't bother," Franchitti added. "When we come back, we'll get the car comfortable first and then sort out traffic. But it's unfortunate because that's one of the reasons we came here was to run in traffic. But we just didn't get a handle on the car that allowed us to do that."

Formula 1 veteran Gary Anderson, who now serves as Technical Director of Reynard North America also weighed in on the changes. "The aim is to make it a bit safer, and it has achieved that as far as the performance level of the car is concerned," Anderson said. "What it will be like in traffic? That's what this test is about, to see how cars act when they run together. We saw today that when two cars ran together for a few laps that they did a better lap time with a tow than without a tow, so it can't be too bad.

"But basically, we've run these cars at Michigan for many years without a problem with great races," he added. "And just reacting to Texas is something I don't think necessarily should be done. The change is relatively small, and I think we're all conscious of the problems that it could cause, so I think we'll be okay. It will probably just contain performance to the level of last year, to be honest, rather than reduce it. We've moved the chassis forward a bit, so it will probably just contain performance."

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