The last few races of any season are a time for teams and drivers to build momentum for the coming year, momentum that could boost prospects throughout an entire race team from drivers to sponsors to fans.

The last few races have yielded much promise to those teams running the Reynard chassis, but none have been as enlightening as last week's Lexmark Indy 300 in Surfers Paradise, an event that turned out to be the final one of the season. Reynards swept the podium for the first time since Vancouver in 2001, and helped rookie Ryan Hunter-Reay to his first-ever series victory.

Furthering the cause for optimism in the Champ Car paddock are the results of a recent CART wind tunnel test that showed that the much-maligned Reynard is performing on a par with the Lola when similar road-course aerodynamic configurations are compared. CART conducted testing two weeks ago with the latest versions of both chassis, determining that the Reynard actually has slightly more downforce and slightly less drag than its counterpart.

"The tests showed us the great potential of the Reynards and we believe that any further development that might aid the Reynard cause would have to come outside of the aerodynamic package," said CART director of technology Lee Dykstra. "We believe that it is very possible to realise that potential by modifying the aerodynamic components of the car without changing the shape mandated by the aerodynamic freeze."

The Reynards had shown strength at many stops along the schedule before last week's sweep, including the first race of the 2003 season when Mario Haberfeld of Mi-Jack/Conquest Racing scored a fourth-place finish in his first-ever event. Jimmy Vasser followed that with a fourth-place run at Long Beach, while American Spirit Team Johansson stable-mate Hunter-Reay qualified second and finished third at the demanding Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

Walker Racing's Darren Manning set a new CART record for rookies by scoring eight consecutive top-ten finishes while piloting the RAC Reynard and Fittipaldi-Dingman Racing's Tiago Monteiro carried his version to a front-row starting spot in Mexico City after leading Saturday qualifying. A Reynard has either started or finished in the top five in five of the last six events and has scored eleven top-five finishes this season.



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