Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing duo Graham Rahal and Robert Doornbos have admitted that they are looking forward to comparing themselves to the rest of the IndyCar field at the forthcoming Barber Motorsport Park test after completing a trouble-free session at Sebring.
It was the team's first chance to conduct two full days of testing on a road course since it joined the IndyCar Series a year ago and, after taking a day off to analyse the data collected by Doornbos and Milka Duno on Tuesday, it was back on track to get Rahal reacquainted with the car in its road course configuration, while Doornbos continued along his IRL learning curve.
For the American, who defied his lack of similar running by winning first time out on the streets of St Petersburg last year, it was a first chance to get behind the wheel of an IndyCar since the Australian conclusion to 2008, and his first test outing on a road course since the team had to abort a three-hour session after just six laps when heavy rain hit Sebring in April.
“It was really nice to get back in the race car on a road course,” Rahal admitted, after clocking a best lap of 52.8secs, “It was my first time in about five months, since the Surfer's Paradise race, so it was a bit of a wake-up session this morning. As the day went on, however, I feel we learned a lot of good things that can help us all season. I think a lot of the things we tried will translate to the tracks we will race on this season and that is what we need most.”
After testing alongside Duno on Tuesday, Doornbos again utilised the additional allocation of test miles given to series rookies to get more experience behind the wheel of his new mount.
“It was good to get on track again, especially after having a day off to analyse everything,” the Dutchman noted, after improving to 53.1secs, “We were in the zone this morning, running fast times in the low 53s, and everything was going so well that, by lunchtime, we almost reached our limit in the mileage we are allowed to run, so we took a break.
''After lunch, we made two runs and called it a day, but it was good to run with Graham today and exchange information. We improved the cars as the day went on, and I'm looking forward to the test at Barber. Then I will just be counting the days until the first race. I can't wait to get started.”
The open test at the unfamiliar Barber Motorsports Park course takes place over 22-23 March.