Houston, Texas – Teamwork was the key to success for the Sierra Sierra Enterprises team at the second pre-season open test for the Champ Car Atlantic Championship, held this past weekend in Houston, Texas. If James Hinchcliffe's first outing with his new team is an indicator of the upcoming season, "Hinch" is in for the ride of his life. Hinchcliffe posted the fastest lap in each of the four sessions at the MSR Houston testing track, despite the unseasonably cold weather. His top time of 1:18.345 (109.362 mph) led all 26 drivers testing on the 2.38-mile road course.
Raphael Matos was close behind Hinchcliffe with a margin of 0.28 seconds. At the first Atlantic open test in January, Matos posted the fastest lap at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida.
"The team was fantastic. I couldn't have asked for a better start with Sierra Sierra. We are working hard – even harder to make sure we keep up the momentum. We need to keep the edge," commented Hinchcliffe.
"It's great to work with both cars on the team. We can see all of the information and make changes. I feel good about both tests. We were the quickest at Sebring and had great results at Houston. I feel very positive about the season," said Matos.
It is clear that the upcoming Cooper Tires Presents The Champ Car Atlantic Championship Powered by Mazda season will be very competitive. With talented rookies and strong returning drivers, the field will be very aggressive.
The goal of the open test was to learn about the car, the new Cooper tire performance and how to best work as a two-car team. With two new engineers and a new driver, learning how to work together and share information is a critical success factor. These results speak for themselves.
"We wanted to be competitive and we were more than competitive. This test couldn't have gone better – it was awesome!" said Dave Empringham, Driver Development Coach.
"I want to give credit to the crew for the amount of work that they put in to deliver two competitive cars. The mileage numbers are impressive," said Richard Raeder, Team Manager. "The cars both ran faultless for the entire test."
The final open test will take place at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California on March 7th and 8th.