First Impressions of Jaguar impress Irvine

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The Independent Online

Eddie Irvine was "pleasantly surprised" after his first day of testing for the embryonic Jaguar Racing team at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain today.

Eddie Irvine was "pleasantly surprised" after his first day of testing for the embryonic Jaguar Racing team at the Jerez circuit in southern Spain today.

The 34-year-old Ulsterman - pipped to glory in the drivers' championship by Mika Hakkinen this year - was encouraged by his initial impressions of the Stewart-Ford SF3, which he ran alongside team-mate Johnny Herbert.

He said: "I thought we were going to start from a lower base than Ferrari in every department and today I was actually pleasantly surprised because although this team has only been around for three years they are certainly ahead in some areas.

"I wasn't sure what to expect, I had heard that this was a tight outfit, but I can say after today that these guys have definitely got their act together in a very short space of time."

Irvine, who covered 21 laps in the new car, added: "I had fun today, I have to say. It is nice to drive a different car and experience different things. Obviously it's early days but I felt really comfortable with the car and the team.

"I must admit I was thinking I could have done with a bit more of a break - but that all changed when I got in the car today. Everything felt right."

Irvine and Herbert will continue testing the Jaguar tomorrow. The team plan to fine-tune the chassis ahead of the official launch at the end of January.

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