If the tight final practice session before the Indy Lights Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Lucas School of Racing is any indication of how the 2016 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire championship will turn out, buckle your seat belts. The top 12 drivers were all within one second of quickest driver Santiago Urrutia (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian). The rest of the top five were Felix Rosenqvist (Belardi Auto Racing), Scott Hargrove (Team Pelfrey), RC Enerson (Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian) and Ed Jones (Carlin).
The 2.3 mile 17-Turn Barber Motorsports Park remained quiet for the first 30 minutes of the three-and half-hour Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire afternoon session. With only two sets of Cooper Tire slicks available, teams were judicious in their use. Urrutia and his Soul Red Mazda powered No. 55 was the first car on track.
The 16 drivers turned a total of 1433 laps (3,295.9 miles) around the 17-Turn Barber Motorsports Park road course during the two sessions. Juan Piedrahita (Team Pelfrey) turned 115 laps, the most circuits, while Jones was only able to turn 49 laps after a morning incident and afternoon mechanical problems.
Championship contender Jones had his running limited by an exhaust sensor issue, that was not related to his morning incident. Jones told TSO that his Turn 6 spin during the morning session came on cold tires during an out lap. The Dubai.
The first and only red flag of the afternoon session flew so that the safety crew could retrieve the No. 2 of Juan Piedrahita who stopped on track after running out of fuel.
TSO had an opportunity to catch up with Rosenqvist after the session and he was really happy with the effort of the whole Belardi Auto Racing team today. After only one day, the reigning FIA F3 Champion already ranks the 2.3 mile 17-turn Barber Motorsports Park in his personal top five world-wide tracks.
What did we learn?
1. The 18 race battle that begins in exactly one week at the Indy Lights Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Presented by Lucas School of Racing for the $1million Mazda Motorsports Advancement Scholarship is going to be exciting and intense. TSO rates this as the deepest Indy Lights field since 1999, with at least a dozen drivers that should contend for victories. We’ll have much more on this next week in our full 2016 season preview.
2. How teammates get along and work together can make or break a season for a team and driver. TSO spent a fair amount of time on pit road this afternoon watching teams and drivers interact among each. And at this point in the season, it appears that teammates are getting along really well with each other. Of particular note were how helpful Rosenqvist and Zach Veach were to each other.
3. A rookie, Spencer Pigot, winning the 2015 Indy Lights was a little bit of a surprise. With quick veterans Enerson, Jones, Seralles, Kaiser, Veach and Blackstock back for second seasons, TSO expects the more experienced to contend for the championship. However, with three rookies leading the way in testing today, we might just be proven wrong.
Combined Time Sheet:
|Place||Driver||Quick Lap||Total Laps|
|16||Zachary Clamen De Melo||1:14.412||79|
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire Notebook
Blowing out the candle!
Is there a better way to celebrate your birthday than driving a race car? Juncos Racing sophomore Kyle Kaiser turns 20 today. Just missing out on a birthday testing session is RC Enerson. The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports with Curb-Agajanian sophomore turns 19 years-old tomorrow.
A weighty issue. (Rule 14.34)
Up until this weekend, the majority of drivers were not running with equivalency ballast. So what is ballast, and what does this mean.
What is ballast?
The minimum weight of an Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire car for a road/street and short oval event is 1395 pounds. This includes all fuel, lubricants, coolants and camera or dummy camera housings, but not the driver.
Driver’s are ballasted to a weight of 165 pounds. Drivers that weigh less than that must add ballast to keel or skid of the IL-15. Conversely drivers that weigh more than 165 pounds may reduce the overall weight of the car to reach the equivalency weight.
What does this mean?
Prior to today’s test, a lighter driver should have had a slight advantage over a heavier driver.
Thanks for reading and we’ll be back tomorrow for Cooper Tires USF2000 Powered by Mazda and Pro Mazda presented by Cooper Tire testing.