Christmas will come five days early for the eager engineers at Newman-Haas Racing, as the team takes delivery of its first 2002-spec Lola.

The chassis should be the third of the new Lolas to be delivered to a CART team, after Target Chip Ganassi Racing received the first and Fernandez Racing the second in the past week. Christian Fittipaldi will travel from the current test at Fontana to Chicago, to be on hand when the car arrives.

The team is scheduled to have the second chassis delivered before the start of 2002, with the remaining chassis arriving in mid-to-late January. Fittipaldi is scheduled to test the 2002 Toyota-powered Lola at Sebring International Raceway on 10-11 January, before handing testing duties to Cristiano da Matta on 21-23 January.

da Matta has been relaxing at home in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, after some post-season celebrations for his back-to-back wins in the final two events of the season in Australia and California, and his recent naming to the 2001 CART All-Star Team with drivers Gil de Ferran, Helio Castroneves, Kenny Brack and Michael Andretti.

da Matta has been cycling and swimming daily to prepare for an unofficial cycling competition on 23 December in Brazil with friends.

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