British single-seater ace Justin Wilson has experienced his first taste of Champ Cars with 2002 CART FedEx Champions Newman-Haas Racing at a private test on the 1.5 mile Homestead Oval in Miami, Florida.

The test, which took place on Tuesday [8 October], was the Sheffield born racer's first experience of oval circuits and Champ Cars.

Wilson's trip to America came off the back of a busy weekend racing in the Telefonica World Series in Spain, Sunday 29 September, where he claimed a second successive pole position and a third place podium finish.

Wilson then flew to Chicago for a seat fitting with the Newman-Haas squad at their base in Illinois. He then travelled with the team to the CART race in Miami last weekend and witnessed Cristiano da Matta claim his seventh win of the year and scoop the 2002 CART title.

Wilson finally got behind the wheel of the all-conquering Lola-Toyota-Bridgestone package on Tuesday. He told his official website, www.justinwilson.co.uk, about the experience: "Jonathan Palmer had been in regular contact with Newman-Haas and we were keen to have the opportunity to test for them.

"This chance suddenly came up and I literally got back to the UK on the Sunday night after racing in Spain and first thing Monday morning was at the airport again heading to America. I arrived in Chicago and went to the Newman-Haas workshop for a seat fitting and to meet the team.

"From there I travelled to the CART race in Miami. I spent the weekend with the team and was impressed with their operation. Cristiano da Matta has pretty much led the way since the CART season began and he wrapped up the Drivers title with win number seven in Miami. Christian Fittipaldi finished second to make it a team 1-2! Needless to say the team were ecstatic and spirits were high. It was good to be at the race and soak up the atmosphere.

"My test at Homestead on Tuesday went very well. The car was set-up for me when I arrived and we didn't have to play around with too much. I wore the HANS safety device for the first time and it took a little fiddling to get it right and then we adjusted the steering height and I was off! It was difficult to know just how quick we would be and as I was testing alone there was no benchmark but the team really helped me a lot.

"It was very much a progressive experience and I went quicker and quicker as the day passed. I was happy with my efforts. It was an enjoyable experience as these cars are all about putting the driver in control. The Lola was nice to drive and with a manual gearbox and limited traction control, the driver has it all to do. On road courses Champ Cars are far more physical to drive than an F1 car but I was testing on an oval for the first time. You need confidence in the car on an oval, especially turning into the corners. You're travelling at such a speed that you need to know the grip is there!

"You have quite a bit of time on an oval to think about things when you're heading down the straights. I imagine in a race when there's twenty other cars around you there's a lot more to take in but the challenge of racing at over 220mph is one I would love.

"Driving a Champ Car on an oval is more skilled than a lot of people give credit for and I thoroughly enjoyed my opportunity to test with Newman-Haas. It's good to build up experience whether it's in an F1 car or Champ Car.

"It's obviously my goal to be driving in Formula One or the CART FedEx Championship in 2003 and I just have to keep testing, keep proving to people I can do the job and see what develops from there. I have to thank Newman-Haas for giving me the chance to test with them and hopefully it won't be a one-off!"

 

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