Da Matta back in the cockpit

Former grand prix driver Cristiano da Matta took a break from his preparations for this weekend's Daytona 24 Hours to drive down to Sebring in Florida to make his return to the cockpit of a Champ Car on Friday as he tested for his new PKV Racing team

Da Matta back in the cockpit

Although cold weather hampered the amount of running he could conduct, as some rival teams decided to abandon the test altogether, the Brazilian still managed to put in the necessary 50-miles against a trio of rookie drivers that allows his team to hold over a full testing day for later in the year.

"I can't say that I am completely comfortable in the Champ Car because we only ran 30 laps, but I don't think that it will take much longer," said the 2002 champion.

"We put in some good work today, got a lot of little things like adjusting the pedals done so that at the next test, we will be ready to go hard right away. I am impressed with this team already and the chance to work with guys like Jimmy (Vasser) and (Jim) McGee makes me believe that we can do some good things this year."

Da Matta was testing against fellow former F1 driver Timo Glock, who was testing the Rocketsports machine, while former Indy Lights driver Matt Halliday and Bruce Jouanny ran for Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing.

Halliday's appearance was a major surprise, having revealed after the test that he only just made it to the test in time after being in hospital until the early hours of the morning.

"I was in the hospital sick as a dog and I finally left about five, and then came here and rested until 10:30," said Halliday. "I felt like death but I didn't want to miss this. I think it went pretty well, we ran a lot of laps, and I felt pretty good in the car. This is a good team. They've got good people. I think they're on the verge of doing something really good here."

Justin Wilson's new RuSPORT team was one of the outfits that decided to cancel its planed running because of the conditions. The Briton and team-mate AJ Allmendinger are expected to get in the cockpit on Saturday.

Team president Jeremy Dale said: "These test days are like gold and you can't waste them or fail to get everything you can out of them. We have our test sessions planned down to the lap, so we don't want to spend them on a day that starts late if we can avoid it."

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