Simona de Silvestro has four IZOD IndyCar Series road/street course races under her belt but, along with the other newcomers to the championship, it's time to tackle the equally challenging discipline of oval racing.
de Silvestro, Takuma Sato, Mario Romancini and Bertrand Baguette will all participate in rookie testing at Kansas Speedway on Friday [23 April], as the 1.5-mile oval gears up to host the first oval race of the IndyCar season on 1 May. The Swiss driver has already led laps in the #78 Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing car this season, and has run consistently in the top ten, but has yet to compete in the top flight on an oval. Despite that, however, she insists that she is looking forward to her first oval experience.
"I am constantly learning and will use that knowledge as I compete in many other races," the 21-year old said.
IZOD IndyCar Series technical director Kevin Blanch and veteran driver Ed Carpenter will observe the rookies, who will have a list of items to practice.
"You want to see if they're reasonable in their speed and consistent with their line," Blanch said, "What I always tell them is that I'm not interested in how fast you go necessarily, you just need to be consistent. Whatever you do, do it every time.
"The first three-fourths of the day, they need to go out and learn to be consistent. Get back up to speed where you just left off. If you were running 205s, and you came in and the team made a change, you need to go back out and run 205. Work on pit-stops, work on entering pit-lane the right way and getting back on the race track the right way.
"Toward the end of day, they need to be somewhere near where the [other veteran drivers] have been running. There's no pressure. It's not real intense. We want them to get familiar with the car, so when we come back and there are 26 others out there with them, they're not worried about moving the roll bars or the pit speed rev limiter. They've been down that road so it's really just about them and the racetrack."
Twenty-seven cars are entered in the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300, among them veteran Indy and NASCAR driver John Andretti, who will be driving the #43 Team Window World entry for Richard Petty/Andretti Autosport in preparation for another crack at the Indianapolis 500. Andretti will participate in a refresher day at Kansas Speedway on Thursday [22 April], along with KV Racing Technology's EJ Viso and Mario Moraes, and Dan Wheldon in the National Guard Panther Racing car.
Jay Howard of Sarah Fisher Racing, Luczo Dragon Racing/de Ferran Motorsports' Raphael Matos, plus Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske will get in laps today [21 April].