IRL: Indy500 rookie orientation poses no problems

By Andy Darley

CalendarWednesday, May 7th, 2008

 
 

There were no slip-ups among the British drivers preparing to make their first assaults on the Indianapolis 500 as all made it through their rookie orientation quickly and efficiently.

Of course, that might be because – in common with many of the other ‘rookies’ this year – they’re not exactly unfamiliar with the circuit.

Jay Howard and Alex Lloyd are the last two winners of the Indy Pro Series title, while Justin Wilson scored his first Formula One point at the US Grand Prix, run on part of the famous Indy oval.

Rookie orientation involves a four-phase driving test, and all three breezed through it.

For Wilson, it was a chance to see how the circuit feels when driven in the opposite direction to F1. “This definitely feels like the proper way around this track and I had wondered what it would feel like when I was here in F1,” he said.

He approved of what he found: “Someone said it was like four quick corners on a road course and that’s kind of how I found it. Unlike some ovals, the car goes where you point it and I rather like that. It was fun to drive today.”

The race will mark the IndyCar debut of Lloyd, whose proper team is Chip Ganassi Racing but who will race for Rahal Letterman in a deal that allows his temporary team to run two cars and the driver to gain valuable race experience.

* Justin Wilson’s team, Newman/Haas/Lanigan, is mourning the death of popular team member Davey Evans. The 63-year-old Briton had worked for the team for 23 years and had a near 40-year association with team boss Carl Haas.

Evans is reported to have been involved in a fight outside a restaurant in Indianapolis and afterwards suffered a fatal stroke. Team general manager Brian Lisles told the Indianapolis Star: “One of the things that we grieve about the most is not only losing him, but that his final moments in this world were totally atypical of how he lived his life. He was a quiet, thoughtful person who just went out to have a meal and a beer, and was walking back to the hotel when this happened.”

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