Two further teams have announced that they will not be running at this weekend's IndyCar Series open test at Barber Motorsports Park, joining AJ Foyt Racing and newcomers Team 3G on the outside looking in.
Conquest Racing and HVM Racing both confirmed that they would skip the 22-23 March session, and replace the outing with time from their allocation of private test days before the season-opener in St Petersburg in early April.
The announcement will be a minor setback for Ryan Hunter-Reay, who had hoped to make his return to the HVM fold in search of a ride for 2009. EJ Viso has already been confirmed in the team's first car, but Hunter-Reay is hopeful of finding refuge in a second after seeing his 2008 seat at Rahal Letterman Racing disappear from underneath him
Viso participated in the first open test of the season, at Homestead-Miami Speedway earlier this month, and was due to share the team's existing chassis with Hunter-Reay at Barber. HVM will now work with the American to arrange a test in a second car at the private test. Hunter-Reay was fitted for a seat at the HVM shop earlier this week, and the team continues to 'explore opportunities' before hopefully finalising an agreement with the 2007 Bombardier Learjet rookie of the year.
“We look forward to having Ryan test for us, but we want to make sure the timing of that test makes sense for everyone,” HVM Racing owner Keith Wiggins said.
Conquest, meanwhile, appeared on the Barber line-up with TBC against its lone entry. Jaime Camara drove for the team in February's oval test, but the team has yet to confirm its line-up for 2009.
“We're in the process of finalising our programme and, with that being our main focus, we elected to skip the test at Barber Motorsports Park and do a private test at a later date,” team owner Eric Bachelart explained, “We're looking at doing a test prior to the start of the season, probably at a place like Sebring, which will better help us with our preparation for the upcoming street course races in St Petersburg and Long Beach.”
Each IndyCar Series entrant that participates in the season-long IndyCar TEAM (Team Enhancement and Allocation Matrix) programme is allowed 800 miles or six days of testing, and 18 sets of Firestone Firehawk tyres on which to run. Entrants with a second car may conduct 1200 miles of testing with 26 sets of tyres, while entrants with additional cars gain 200 miles and four sets of tyres per car.
Teams are not permitted to test at any track within seven days of a race, although that won't affect HVM or Conquest in its preparation for the two opening rounds, both of which take place on temporary street circuits.