Rookie Pippa Mann once again proved that she was more than a match for the boys by topping the times in Firestone Indy Lights testing for the second day running at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
While last season may have shown that there may have been no better team on ovals than Panther Racing, Mann is doing her bit to prove that the same may be true in 2009, after laying down a lap of 28.4776secs to out-pace 19 others running at the 1.5-mile Florida circuit.
“I'm really, really pleased,” said Mann, who also topped Monday's rookie session, “My car has been really fast every time I've been in it on both days. I can't not be happy with how we ran. I hope when we get to the race weekend, we have a similar performance."
The Briton, who switches to the Lights category after two years in the European-based World Series by Renault had said that running with more cars may prove to be a bigger test than Monday's session, but reckons that she coped okay.
"It's been a huge learning experience, but I got better running in traffic,” she commented, “I haven't got used to that aspect of it yet, so that's something that I still need to work on. However I'm pleased that we managed to avoid incidents, and we seem to have a much better grip on making the car handle when it's windy. It has been a great start to our pre-season preparations, and I hope our progress continues.”
Irish rookie Ali Jackson emerged second fastest after leading most of the morning session with a lap at 187.488mph, while fellow rookies Sebastian Saavedra, Martin Plowman and Mario Romancini rounded out the top five, despite the arrival of several series 'veterans' for their first official outing of the new season.
“We had a good start of a day,” Jackson said, “I got a good tow off of Mann and then Pippa, pardon the pun, pipped us at the end. Then we had a mechanical issue. We broke an input shaft and lost a lot of time, but that's not the fault of the team. It's just one of those things. But we're still quick, so I'm happy.”
Ana Beatriz, running with Sam Schmidt Motorsport, was the fastest veteran driver, recording a best lap of 186.418mph, but there was disappointing news for Bryan Herta Autosport rookie Daniel Herrington, who saw his test cut short by the only incident of the session.
The rear of the #28 car made contact with the SAFER Barrier in turn two and, while not seriously damaged, the impact was enough to end the first test for IRL racewinner Bryan Herta's new operation.