Denver Practice: Haberfeld's surprise

Mario Haberfeld paced Champ Car practice on Friday morning at the Denver street course on a day when both Forsythe Racing drivers suffered almost identical accidents

Denver Practice: Haberfeld's surprise

Brazilian Haberfeld, driving an unfancied Reynard for the Conquest team, turned a 1m01.590s (96.269 mph) lap as the chequered flag flew to end the second 50-minute practice. That lap was marginally faster than the 1m01.632s lap Paul Tracy completed just seconds before he wiped the rear wing off his Forsythe Lola after overcooking it into Turn 1. Tracy had been fastest in the opening practice with a 1m02.181s lap.

Tracy's accident in the second session was a mirror image of the wreck suffered by his team-mate Patrick Carpentier during the first. The French-Canadian's car looked far worse for wear, but the Forsythe crew turned around repairs fast enough for Patrick to log 11 laps in the second session, running ninth fastest.

Roberto Moreno had the only other crash in practice, shearing the left-rear corner off his Herdez Competition Lola at Turn 7 early in the first practice. Oriol Servia also caused a red flag when he spun, but the Spaniard's Patrick Lola didn't make contact with anything solid.

Haberfeld's best outings during his rookie Champ Car season have come at street courses, topped by his fourth place finish in the season-opener at St. Petersburg. Darren Manning had the second quickest Reynard, running seventh some 0.6s off Haberfeld's pace.

The top five were covered by less than 0.2s, with Mario Dominguez, Bruno Junqueira and Adrian Fernandez trailing Haberfeld and Tracy.

Denver organizers put in a lot of effort to make the 1.647-mile street course smoother than it was for the event's debut in 2002. Bridgestone has been forced to bring an exceptionally durable tyre, given that temperatures are expected to vary wildly throughout the weekend and rain is predicted for Saturday.

"The Denver track is remembered for being quite slick in several areas last year," said Bridgestone Motorsport executive director Al Speyer. "Measures have been taken by track officials to address that issue, and we're hopeful the drivers will find more grip throughout the course this year. We believe returning with the same tire specification as last year is the proper decision because it supplies the necessary grip while retaining the durability necessary to cope with the high altitude heat we might see and the removal of traction control this year in the Champ Cars."

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