Ernesto Viso put himself firmly on the shopping lists of more than one Champ Car team after setting Sebring alight during his two-day try-out with Minardi Team USA.

The Venezuelan posted faster times than achieved by the DP01 during the last test at the Florida venue, showing not only his rapid acclimatisation to the car, but also that there are no lingering after-effects of his monumental GP2 accident at Magny-Cours in the summer. Running late in the afternoon of his second day, Viso stopped the clocks at 51.4secs, more than a second faster than he managed on day one, and a tenth under Will Power's 51.5secs effort from September.

"I am very happy with these two days with Minardi Team USA, and I feel we had a very productive test," he said, "I got to know the car, and I gained a better understanding of the behaviour of this chassis. It is different from what I am used to, but I figured it out pretty quickly. I think we turned some competitive lap times - and I believe we went even faster than [others had] in the previous tests. We worked on a lot of set-up changes, and I hope my feedback has helped the engineers."

It was not all plain sailing for Viso, who suffered a differential problem during the morning session and another with the rear wing which he felt prevented him from going faster in the evening, but he still managed to lower the team's previous best lap time, set by rookie of the year Robert Doornbos, at 52.1secs.

The Venezuelan had spent his first day with the team running systems checks and getting used to the car although, unlike running mate Dillon Battistini, did not have to acclimatise to the paddle-shift on the DP01, posting a 52.6secs benchmark. Day two was then about working closely with the team's engineers to trying to find an optimum set-up that would allow for additional speed.

"The car is more powerful, but also a lot heavier than a GP2," Viso explained, "The motor responds very well, and it is an interesting car, especially without electronic aids, which means that the driver has to work a lot more. I like a lot. I felt very good physically, despite the time that I have been out of the cockpit of a single-seater like this We could have gone faster at the end of the opening day, despite the track not being in the best condition, but a problem meant that the afternoon ended earlier than we had hoped."

The Venezuelan admits that Champ Car is among his options for 2008, although he is also chasing opportunities in F1, and should have no trouble convincing team owners of his potential in the US-based series.

"I am very impressed with Ernesto," admitted engineer Will Phillips, echoing Minardi boss Keith Wiggins, "He was very professional, precise with his exchange of information and appeared to enjoy it all.

"The first day was assured, with no mistakes, especially under braking and, on day two, he was a lot more confident. What impressed me most, however, was how quickly he adapted to the car and the way in which he began to make adjustments to adapt it to his style. If he learns the circuits and how to save fuel as quickly as he has with the car, I believe that he will be one of the strongest candidates for rookie of the year next season."

 

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