10 March 2012
Dixon and Franchitti finish on top at Sebring
"Overall though we have had a very good two days of testing," he said. "We were able to run a good amount of laps again today and look at some different setups. We also practised pit stops which will served me well. I was able to see how the car reacts coming in on warm tires and leaving on cold tires and seeing where to position the car, all things that are very different to what I am used to."
Perhaps the most surprising strong performances of this second block of testing on Thursday and Friday was the consistently strong showing of Panther's JR Hildebrand and AJ Foyt Racing's Mike Conway.
"We struggled all day to find speed," insisted Conway, who still wasn't happy with the margin that the leaders had over him by the end of the open test. "We need to go quicker because four tenths is massive around here. We learned some things but we have more work to do, we just have to keep working at it."
Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's Josef Newgarden also made steady improvement on the second day of testing, with Newgarden finishing ahead of Ganassi's Charlie Kimball in both morning and afternoon sessions just two days after getting their hands on their Honda engine.
There was relief, too, in the Lotus camp which got all three cars out on track during the day without significant issues and which even saw Bryan Herta Autosport's Alex Tagliani in the top ten in the morning.
There was also the first track time for Lotus Dragon Racing's Sebastien Bourdais, who borrowed his team mate Katherine Legge's #6 car for the morning session and achieved 69 laps before lunch, with Legge herself adding another 45 in the afternoon.
"Nothing is ideal, we would have loved to get more done, but at least I will show up in St. Pete having done some laps in the car," said a relieved Bourdais after his spell in the cockpit. "Knowing a little bit, making sure the car was right and was doing everything it was expected to do, and to get the communication going with the engineers is what we need to address and to get the communication going with Lotus as well.
"Now we're just having to deal with balance issues and fixing stuff, so it's more what I'm used to and what my job is rather than worrying if we're going to get the car on the track," he continued. "Just slowly starting, really."
Ed Carpenter's new team was continuing to have teething problems, causing two cautions in the afternoon including one for going off-roading at turn 10. Despite finishing at the bottom of the timesheets in the morning and only just ahead of Legge in the afternoon, Carpenter was still confident that progress was being made.
“All in all, it was a good two-day start for the team,” he insisted. "“We had a few hiccups during the two days but we wanted to get in some testing for the car, engine and the crew.
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