Two Rookies Head the Timesheets at Homestead-Miami Speedway
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – The first official Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires test of 2016 is in the books with Felix Rosenqvist turning some heads by setting the pace for Belardi Auto Racing. The Swedish newcomer posted the fastest time overall on the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course with a lap of 1:14.4371 (106.882 mph) set in this morning’s three-hour session. The reigning FIA F3 European champion also set the second-quickest time in testing yesterday.
“We went through a basic program the past two days,” said Rosenqvist. “We tried to do as many things as possible and the team had a plan they wanted to go through. We were quite strong at the end of the day yesterday and things ran smoothly today. We were first in both sessions, which doesn’t mean a lot now, but it’s a good indication of where I am if I do the series. It’s also good for the team to be able to try a lot of things. I have a lot of experience in formula cars so I hope they were happy with my feedback. They’re a great bunch of guys and Zach [Veach] is a really nice guy. He has the same attitude as I do: we are both the kind of drivers who like to help each other as teammates. He wants the best for the whole team not just for himself. I’m not sure what I’m going to do, but Indy Lights is definitely one of the things I’m targeting for 2016.”
Equally impressive was the performance by reigning Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires champion Santiago Urrutia of Uruguay. Urrutia ended the day in the second spot on the speed charts with a lap of 1:14.5202 (106.763 mph) driving for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian. He missed the mark set by Rosenqvist by just 0.0831 of a second.
“I really like the Indy Lights car,” said Urrutia. “We worked a lot these two days and I’m very happy with how things went. I have a good feeling with the car and with the team. They’ve done a great job. We were P1 for a while on new tires today but Rosenqvist was a little bit quicker than us. Everything is different from the Pro Mazda car because everything happens more quickly, but I had a good feeling from the beginning. That has helped me to be quick from the start. I tested with the team last year, so I’m very comfortable. There’s a lot to learn but I’m happy with what I’m doing right now and hope to continue to improve. It’s a good way to start the season. I’m looking forward to the next test at Phoenix – that will be my first time on an oval in this car and it’s important because we’re going to race there.”
Carlin’s Ed Jones led Day One of testing and it was his lap in the second session yesterday – 1:14.5376 (106.738 mph) – that held to place him third overall. His new teammate Felix Serralles notched the fourth quickest time with a lap of 1:14.8459 (106.298 mph) followed by Schmidt Peterson’s RC Enerson at 1:14.8876 (106.239 mph).
The test featured a mix of returning veterans and new faces including Pro Mazda vice champion Neil Alberico who was confirmed on the Carlin squad Monday.
“Our pace is there, but most of the other drivers have more experience than I do,” said Alberico, who ended the outing 10th overall. “Thankfully, Felix and Ed are my teammates. They’re really quick and I’ve got arguably the best data to look at. I’ll just try to improve my driving, figure things out and be there for the beginning of the season. It’s been a big jump from Pro Mazda to this car with the additional downforce, but it really only took a session to get used to that. I’m really looking forward to seeing what the Indy Lights car is like on an oval. Dallara has built a quality car, and it’s a really fun car to drive.”
Eleven drivers took part in the outing logging 1644 laps on the 2.21-mile, 14-turn circuit. Testing will continue at Phoenix International Raceway on February 25 followed by Barber Motorsports Park on March 5.