It was a busy day at Sebring today as several teams wound up their preseason test. With less than two weeks to go before the St. Pete opening race, 15 cars were on track in the ‘thours I was at the track. I didn’t see either of the Arrow McLaren SP cars or any of the Penske drivers. Their transporters were there. They may have gone out after I left at 2:30.
Teams that I saw were Andretti, Ganassi, Coyne, Foyt, Meyer Shank Racing, Carlin, and Dragonspeed. I believe Felipe Nasr was in the Carlin car. I did not see Max Chilton on track.
Here are a few photos from the day. More will we posted on The Pit Window”s Facebook page tomorrow.
“I can’t wait to get back in the No. 81 machine for another crack at St Pete,” said the34-year-old Hanley. “After the thrash required just to make it to the track last season, we’re coming back in a much more settled situation. I don’t know if we can repeat the combination of luck and timing that put us 12th on the grid in 2019, but we will be much better prepared this time around and should be stronger throughout the weekend.”
DragonSpeed team principal Elton Julian said, “The continuity represented by having Ben in the car at St Pete is a real boost, and for the fifth year in a row he remains the lead driver across all of our programs. That said, the realities of life as a young IndyCar team might see us running other drivers at the same level as Ben, perhaps with more IndyCar experience, during the year. But committing to Ben as the test and race driver for the launch of our 2020 effort is clearly the best way to get our season off to a strong start.”
Julian added, “We haven’t had the head start of some teams in testing the new IndyCar Aeroscreen and are pushing hard to get it in time to maximise the limited track testing allowed to us as a part-time entrant, while making some time in between for data analysis and shaker rig testing.”
DragonSpeed’s next event is the Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance classic on 25-26 January, where the Indianapolis-based squad will defend its 2019 LMP2 class victory after setting the fastest time at last weekend’s official pre-race test.
James Hinchcliffe led a rain shortened practice session for the six cars still looking for a spot in the 103rd running of the Indianapolis 500. Hinchcliffe had a lap of 228.125. Sage Karam was next at 228.083. Fernando Alonso was slowest of the five cars that were on track. at 220.009′
Kyle Kaiser did not turn any laps in the session that lasted just 20 minutes before the rain began. The rain just returned as the track was nearly dry.
Should Alonso and McLaren not qualify, might they try to buy a ride? There are rumors they are considering it. I have never been a fan of drivers who don’t qualify buying their way into the field, as Michael Andretti did for Ryan Hunter-Reay in 2011. Stay tuned.
Dragonspeed, Hanley to Focus on Indycar in 2020
Team owner Elton Julian said plans are do as many or more races in Indycar next year.
“Commercially no other series is as viable as this one,” he said. “I’ve always been quick to step up to the next formula.”
Dragonspeed will stay involved in sports car racing, but cut back a bit’
Hanley on his first week here:
“The Rookie Orientation is amazing. It’s hard to not go over 205 but the program makes you stop and think about what you’re doing.”
Rain continues to fall and the schedule is on hold. I’m not optimistic about any running today. Should the rain stop now and not return, it will be at best 3 pm before the track dries. I would look for the last row qualifying tomorrow before the final practice from 12-2.
I will keep everyone posted via @PitWindow on twitter and The Pit Window on Facebook for immediate weather updates and back here for any extended news.
Ben Hanley eagerly anticipates his first Indycar weekend at the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The driver oft he number 81 Dragonspeed entry, the newest car in The NTT Indycar Series paddock, told The Pit Window the team has no major expectations except to have “Solid results and concentrate on getting a good race car Sunday. ”
Hanley, 34, from Manchester, UK, won the LMP2 pole for Dragonspeed at the Rolex 24 in January. He has open wheel experience driving in the GP2 series.
Hanley said the Indycar is similar to the prototype he drives in IMSA and the WEC, perhaps a little heavier on the downforce. He is eager to drive in traffic. Although there were other cars testing at Sebring with him, he realizes this weekend this will be different.
He has not run on the alternate red tires and won’t until Friday afternoon’s practice session. I asked Hanley what he expected from the tires.
“Hopefully stickier, ” he said. He is eager to see how the tires will change as the track changes throughout the weekend.
As for overall team goals for their five races in 2019, “We want be in it for the long term. Just put our heads down and go to work.”
Editor’s note:Sorry about the earlier glitch. Nice to have another Chevrolet entry and another car on the grid.17 December 2018 – American endurance racing team DragonSpeed will return to US competition in 2019. Its rookie IndyCar Series season will cover five races, highlighted by the 103rd Indianapolis 500 in May. The 2017 European Le Mans Series champions will also be in action Stateside with their regular LMP1 and LMP2 machinery at the IMSA Rolex 24 at Daytona season-opener in January and the Sebring 1000 Miles round of the FIA World Endurance Championship in March, as well as the Le Mans 24 Hours in June.For its IndyCar Series debut, DragonSpeed has secured Chevrolet power for a new Dallara chassis to be driven by Ben Hanley. The 33-year-old Briton enters his fourth season with the team, having built a name as one of the world’s leading sportscar pilots. The new combination will make its track debut at the official pre-season test at the Circuit of the Americas on 12-13 February.The remainder of DragonSpeed’s IndyCar Series schedule will include St Petersburg, Barber, Road America, and Mid-Ohio with the goal of accommodating its WEC commitments and exposing the team to a variety of tracks in readiness for its target of a full season in 2020.Team principal Elton Julian said, “IndyCar is enjoying a major upswing thanks to the quality of the racing produced by the current regulations. The fans see it, the teams see it, the manufacturers and sponsors see it, and I think NBC saw it when they decided to take on the television coverage. With so much interest from new entrants, we’re also grateful for IndyCar’s support of our bid to join the series and to Chevy for making room for us in their engine program.”“For the team, it’s a matter of our growing experience catching up to our ambitions. The last few seasons of endurance racing have given us an intensive platform for developing our preparation, race engineering, pit stop, and strategy skills. We also have strong open-wheel credentials up and down the team, and Ben’s pace and exceptional detail feel for set-up and tires should be a great asset.”“None of this is to underplay the difficulty of the challenge ahead, because IndyCar is the toughest series we’ve ever contested, with the world’s biggest race as its centerpiece. On the other hand, we didn’t go from club racing a decade ago to a Pirelli World Challenge title in 2015 to prototypes at Le Mans without climbing a few mountains, and I take a lot of confidence from the talent and spirit of the people we’ve put together for the next summit.”Source: Team PR