The Forsythe operation's successful start to events at Sebring continued into the opening day of Champ Car Atlantic testing, when Canadian returnee James Hinchcliffe produced the best lap to head an international field.

Hinchcliffe's 57.449secs effort on his return to the Forsythe Atlantic operation after a one-year absence pushed him ahead of fellow series veteran Jonathan Bomarito, who posted 57.542secs on his first official outing with reigning champions Sierra Sierra Enterprises. Hinchcliffe's new team-mate, Mexican driver David Garza, completed the top three, with a best lap timed at 57.860secs.

"Obviously, we're pretty happy with the results," 'Hinch' said, "The team ended the day first and third, so that's a good place to start. Sebring is kind of an enigma in itself, so you can't take too much away from this, but for the sake of the team and for the confidence of both me and David, it's a good place to start. We're looking forward to Long Beach more than anything. We've got two tests still to go, but we know we've got a good package underneath us. Now I just want to go racing."

Bomarito echoed those sentiments following his public debut in the cockpit of the championship-winning #6 machine. The American moved to Sierra Sierra Enterprises in the off-season and is entering his fourth year of Atlantic competition.

"It's good so far," Bomarito admitted, "A lot of the teams have been here in their private testing in weeks previous to this test and we haven't, so we were a little bit behind when we first got here this morning. This afternoon, though, has been awesome. It's a new team for me, joining Sierra Sierra this year, and I'm just working on gelling with the team. I can't tell you how excited I am to get to Long Beach and start the year."

Like Bomarito and Hinchcliffe, Garza also made his official debut with a new team at Sebring, moving from US RaceTronics to Forsythe Championship Racing for his second year of Atlantic action. The move appears to be paying immediate dividends.

"I think we started on the right foot," he said, "It's a great confidence booster for our whole team. We worked really hard in the pre-season, and to come to the first test and be quick, it's just a really good pay-off. The whole team is working really great and the car is doing what I want it to do, so it speaks of good things for the team. I'm looking forward to starting racing. Forsythe is such a big organisation and everything is so well-prepared. You have so much confidence in the team. I'm very happy to be here."

Fourth-quickest on Tuesday was second-year American driver JR Hildebrand, while Finnish rookie Markus Niemela showed few problems in adapting to Brooks Associates Racing's car as he impressively completed the top five.

A total of 24 drivers combined to complete 1266 laps on the day, and the top eleven drivers - down to Britain's Greg Mansell and including fellow rookies Daniel Morad and Dane Cameron - were covered by less than one second.

Leading performances (5 February) - Sebring

James Hinchcliffe Forsythe 57.449secsJonathan Bomarito Sierra Sierra 57.542secsDavid Garza Forsythe 57.860secsJR Hildebrand Genoa 57.981secsMarkus Niemela Brooks Associates 57.997secsKevin Lacroix Walker 58.004secsCarl Skerlong Pacific Coast 58.116secsDaniel Morad Eurointernational 58.121secsAlan Sciuto Mathiasen 58.246secsDane Cameron Sierra Sierra 58.350secsGreg Mansell Walker 58.429secsJuho Annala Conquest 58.472secsMike Forest PR1 58.540secsSebastien Chardonnet Conquest 58.583secsAdrien Herberts Paladin 58.594secsFrankie Muniz Pacific Coast 58.711secsFilip Salaquarda Brooks Associates 58.732secsJohn Edwards Newman Wachs 58.787secsSimona de Silvestro Newman Wachs 58.833secsLeo Mansell Walker 58.881secsBrett van Blankers Jensen 59.147secsDillon Battistini Jensen 59.252secsLarry Connor Genoa 59.317sesImran Husain Genoa Racing 1m 00.820secs


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