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Training in Florida up to speed
Mike Richardson more comfortable about being aggressive in 2003

By Daily Courier Staff
The Okanagan Sunday

Time appears to be a friend to Mike Richardson. And an enemy. In central Florida for five days of training for the upcoming 2003 Barber-Dodge racing season, the Kelowna resident says he's made steady improvements concerning lap times. But, he adds, going from good to great proved quite the challenge. "I pulled in good times, and I was only two-10ths (of a second) off the fastest time," said Richardson, who left sunny Sebring yesterday for the grey, cloudy skies surrounding Kelowna. "And the guy who set the best time was the test track driver, who's been running the track for five years. So he had an obvious advantage. " I tried getting (my times) down, but making up that short amount of time means you have to do everything just right. If you're off just the smallest bit, it shows at the end of a lap."

In his first Barber-Dodge season, Richardson played it cautiously instead of going for broke. The 35-year-old said his game plan was based on learning more by finishing as opposed to learning nothing by sitting beside a wrecked car. On Sebring's two-mile track this week, Richardson threw caution to the wind. "It's all about getting used to the car you're driving," said Richardson, who logged an average of 120 miles of track time per day. "And to get used to something like this, you need a lot of seat time. "I'm finding out what works for me, and what doesn't work. Before, I didn't completely trust where the car was going. Now that I'm comfortable in the car, I'm being more aggressive. "I'm now able to take the car right to the edge…and it feels good. "I've never felt something like that last year. It feels good to be accomplishing something by working the car and pushing it to its limits."

One item which helped Richardson advance to the edge was a steady off-season workout regime. After shedding 20 pounds to a svelte 180, a much-fitter Richardson, who runs 20 miles a week, said conditioning allowed him to recuperate quicker after a lengthy day behind the wheel. "You actually get a pretty good workout in the car," said Richardson. "And by the end of a full testing day, a driver can feel pretty drained. By being in shape, I was nowhere near as tired when the next day came round. "Some of the other drivers in testing looked absolutely exhausted, whereas I wasn't. "So obviously there's a lot of benefit to working out."