By Steve Wittich
Those of us that follow the Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires carefully have spent an inordinate amount of time discussing the rivalry between newly minted NTT IndyCar Series drivers Oliver Askew and Rinus van Kalmthout (VeeKay). Maybe, it’s time to turn our focus to another pair of drivers that can’t seem to get away from each other. Kyle Kirkwood, who was testing with Andretti Autosport beat Rasmus Lindh (HMD Motorsports) to the USF2000 and Indy Pro 2000 titles the past two seasons, but it’s the 18-year-old Lindh who got the jump in Indy Lights.
The Gothenburg, Sweden born driver ended the two-day test with a quick lap that was over two-tenths quicker than Kirkwood, who had the second-fastest lap.
Note from Steve: With the full trash bin in the background, this is the most Sebring photo ever. It’s a legendary and awesome track, but it’s still located in Central Florida. 🙂
Kirkwood was the quickest of the four Andretti Autosport drivers, but not by much with only just over two-tenths of a second separating Kirkwood from Robert Megennis, Danial Frost, and Tristan Charpentier.
Antonio Serravalle (HMD Motorsports), Nikita Lastochkin (Exclusive Autosport), and Flinn Lazier (Belardi Auto Racing), in their first Indy Lights tests, were all within eight-tenths of Lindh at the top of the timesheet.
“The second session, we were able to run the car hard and were pretty competitive with guys who have had a season of running the car behind them,” said Russian Lastochkin after the first day of testing. “The car is a beast – a fantastic car – really awesome! I’m enjoying every lap – learning how to drive it and adapting to more horsepower, and more downforce. As a driver, that is all you can ask for.”
Christian Bogle, who is only testing Indy Lights this year, was within 1.7 seconds of Lindh. A solid effort considering he is jumping from USF2000.
Andretti Autosport was the team to beat on the first day of the test with a trio of different drivers, each leading one of the three sessions.
Wednesday’s morning session saw three teams at the top of the timesheet. But, it Megennis, the only veteran testing, that lead the way early with a lap timed at 57.9455 seconds.
Test session #2 was led by reigning Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires champion Kirkwood. Danial Frost (Andretti Autosport), Megennis and Lastochkin were all within two-tenths of a second of Kirkwood’s quick lap of 57.2636 seconds.
The nine drivers turned a total of 523 laps during the two-hour test session #3. When the checkered flag flew, it was Frost with a lap of 56.8616 that was at the top of the timing sheet. Megennis, Lastochkin, and Lindh were within 0.07 seconds of Frost, making it four drivers who broke the 57-second mark on Wednesday.
Damp weather impacted the second day of the test, but before the track got slick, the HMD Motorsports duo of Lindh and Serravalle were able to put in a pair of quick laps that were separated by only three-hundredths of a second. Within one-tenth of them was Kirkwood, and within three-tenths were Road To Indy newcomer Charpentier and Frost.
The top seven in the Thursday morning session were separated by less than five-tenths of a second.
The fifth and final session on Thursday afternoon began with rain and a wet track but ended the two-hour session with a dry and blazingly fast 1.67-mile, 11-turn Sebring International Club Course.
Once again, it was Lindh and HMD Motorsports that led the way. The Swedish driver was the only pilot to break the 56-second barrier with his quickest lap timed at 55.9580 seconds.
All nine drivers set their quickest times in the fifth and final session.
Combined time sheet Sebring International Raceway Indy Lights test
|RANK||CAR NO.||DRIVER||TEAM||QUICK LAP||DIFFERENCE||TOTAL LAPS|
|1||2||Rasmus Lindh||HMD Motorsports||55.958||–.—-||132|
|2||28||Kyle Kirkwood||Andretti Autosport||56.174||0.2156||147|
|3||27||Robert Megennis||Andretti Autosport||56.307||0.3494||151|
|4||68||Danial Frost||Andretti Autosport||56.380||0.4220||152|
|5||98||Tristian Charpentier||Andretti Autosport||56.389||0.4313||145|
|6||79||Antonio Serravalle||HMD Motorsports||56.525||0.5666||165|
|7||90||Nikita Lastochkin||Exclusive Autosport||56.762||0.8040||142|
|8||4||Flinn Lazier||Belardi Auto Racing||56.830||0.8719||192|
|9||7||Christian Bogle||Jay Howard Driver Development||57.718||1.7596||130|
Teams will be conducting plenty of private testing, but that’s it for official Road To Indy Presented by Cooper Tires action until the annual spring training visit to the Homestead-Miami Speedway road course scheduled for March 7-9, 2020.