26 February 2010
Hinchcliffe tops Barber Indy Lights test
Indy Lights veteran James Hinchcliffe set the benchmark at the series lone pre-season test at Barber Motorsports Park, ahead of other returnees.
Four drivers who competed for the full season in Firestone Indy Lights last year have been projected to contend for the 2010 championship and, at the end of the series' only open pre-season test, they stood 1-4 on the timesheets.
James Hinchcliffe, now driving for Team Moore Racing, posted the quickest lap at 1min 14.9714secs to pace the 13 drivers participating in the test at Barber Motorsports Park a month before the opener on the streets of St Petersburg.
"It was a great day for us on the #2 car," the Canadian said, "I'm really happy, especially coming into a new team with new people. We are all working well together right off the bat and that translated into the speed we showed on the track. Everyone at Team Moore Racing deserves a huge pat on the back because there have been some long hours getting everything ready in time for this test. I'm happy that the hard work paid off."
Martin Plowman took the #27 AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport car to second spot at 1min 15.1319secs, while team-mate Charlie Kimball was just one place further back on 1min 15.1715secs. Sebastian Saavedra, who finished third in the 2009 series standings with AFS/AGR, was fourth with a best lap of 1min 15.3817secs in the #29 Bryan Herta Autosport car. Intriguingly, all four drivers are with new teams this season.
"I was pretty happy with today," Plowman said, "I'm never going to be truly happy unless I am P1 or on pole, but it was a solid day. We got a lot done with our testing programme. We started off the day strong with a good base car and fine-tuned it the rest of the day. I don't think we showed a true potential today, but we did some long runs in the afternoon that leaves me very optimistic for when we come back."
The top seven were separated by only 0.6326secs, while Champ Car veteran racer Jan Heylen made his debut in the #17 Team E entry and went fifth quickest on 1min 15.5407secs to sit ahead of Stefan Wilson, who competed in six races in 2009, and swaps to the #28 Bryan Herta Autosport entry for 2010.
Another newcomer to the series, Frenchman Jean-Karl Vernay, was seventh fastest in the #7 Sam Schmidt Motorsports car, as 14 drivers participated in the test. Spanish rookie Adrian Campos had the only major incident during the 1074 laps recorded, but was emerged uninjured.
Kimball's #26 Levemir® FlexPen® car sported a new paint scheme featuring sponsorship from Novo Nordisk, a world leader in diabetes care. The 25-year old is the only licensed racer with Type 1 diabetes in the history of the Indy Racing League.
"This is a big year for me and expectations are high," Kimball said, "I am fortunate to not only be part of one of the top teams in all of racing at AFS Racing/Andretti Autosport, but to have the support of Novo Nordisk, one of the world's leading healthcare companies that is committed to helping me live my dream."
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