Weather Puts Early End to Test Day

The afternoon session began late and ended early. Cold temperatures  and rain caused the test to be red flagged after about ten minutes of running. About 12 laps were run. Rinus VeeKay had the quickest time of the six drivers who completed a lap.

The second round was scheduled to start at 1:30 CDT, but the cars sat on pit lane warming their engines.  Firestone prefers a track/air  temperature combination of 100 degrees, which was never reached. At 2:14 cars got on  track. The rain began and the red flag flew at 2:24. The checkered flag for the day was around 2:45.

It has been a frustrating day for all involved with less than 20 minutes of cars on track. The abbreviated day hurts the smaller teams and the teams that hadn’t tested with the aeeroscreen.  Tomorrow’s forecast is for warmer temperatures, around 65, with a 50% chance of rain. The rain tomorrow is forecast for early in the day.

Tomorrow’s schedule all times Eastern:

10-Noon

12:30-6:00

Will Power and Pato O’Ward spoke to the media. Power said water entered the cockpit. he wasn’t sure where it came from, but he doesn’t think it was the vents. O’Ward is impressed with the aeroscreen from his earlier test at Sebring. He says Indycar still needs to work on the cooling inside the cockpit.

I will be heading home tomorrow but will cover the session from there. It’s been fun being back at the track with Indycar.  While I’m disappointed I didn’t get to see much track action, it was great hearing the engines running and being around the paddock again.

Here are a few photos from this afternoon.

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Spring Training at COTA- The Season Begins

Greetings from Austin. The crazy, turbulent  off season is over.  We have seen a huge change in ownership of the NTT Indycar Series and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, champion drivers summarily dropped from their rides, new associations formed. But we are now past that and we are, I hope just one day away from cars running on track at Circuit of the Americas.

The weather may have something to say about that. The forecast from Indycar Weatherman Sunday night around 6 pm:

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Wednesday looks more favorable, especially temperature wise. It is a wait and see game. Today is media day and a lot of stories and some livery reveals are on tap.  Losing an entire day of running will be frustrating. There are several things teams were looking to find out in the two day test.

First Aeroscreen Test for Some Teams

Some teams have not tested with the aeroscreen as of yet. They were hoping to use these two days to gather a lot of information and get feedback from their drivers. I don’t know if lack of track time will be a huge setback for a team as far as the aeroscreen goes. Most drivers and teams who have tested with seemed to adapt quickly.

Aeroscreen in Traffic

COTA was to be the first time cars ran in traffic with the aeroscreen. Everyone wants to see how the new device affects passing and how air comes off the cars with the screen. Until the green flag at St. Pete, we won’t have an idea of how a closely bunched field will affect turbulence.

New COTA Track Limits

Drivers will get a chance to test the new turn 19 track limits this week. In last year’s race cars could go outside the track in turn 19, creating a wider arc. The new limits involve a timing loop which the cars must pass over, staying on the intended track surface. The result will probably be slower lap speeds. How will the racing be affected by the track limit?

In Car Cameras

Indycar plans to check locations of the in- car cockpit cameras during the test days. A place for a camera was built in to the top center of the aeroscreen frame. I don’t think it would be hard to change or add locations in the frame.

Rookies

The rookies, Rinus VeeKay, Oliver Askew, Alex Palou, and  Scott McLaughlin will get some on track experience against the series veterans. I will watch their times, keeping in mind this is still a test.

 

Rolex 24 Begins Today

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The 58th Rolex 24 gets underway today with three practice sessions and qualifying. The Thursday night practice is one of my favorite sessions of the entire year of racing. There is nothing on the line,just cars driving through the darkness.

Tomorrow has the final practice round before Saturday’s race. Most of Friday features the  four hour Michelin Pilot race.

Saturday the 24 hour race begins an hour earlier than it has the past few years. The start Saturday and finish Sunday are on NBC.

I will have the television schedule up later. I’m leaving for the track and will provide updates periodically, including my famous well read mid race report. Thanks to both of you who read that one.