17 January 2012
Lotus hits the track for Sebring tests
For the first time, cars running engines from all three of the 2012 manufacturers have been out on track at Sebring at the same time for test runs.
With a little over two months to go before the start of the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series championship, cars representing all three engine manufacturers were out on the test track together for the very first time.
In particular it was a watershed moment for Lotus, who were at last able to get out and up to speed alongside their competitors after being the last of the manufacturers to commence its development of the new specification 2.2-litre, twin turbocharged V6 engine back in November 2010.
Simona de Silvestro was in charge of the Lotus-powered HVM Racing car for the session, and she completed 161 laps over the course of the eight hours of testing and was more than ready for a break by the end of the day.
"So far so good," reported de Silvestro. "We've had pretty much no issues - and I haven't done anything wrong either!"
"It's going to plan," said Lotus Motorsport's Indy manager, Olivier Picquenot, while admitting that being the last manufacturer to make it out on track hadn't been ideal. "It was a huge handicap. Not that it's not going well, but we still have so much to do."
De Silvestro was joined out on track by Honda cars driven by Simon Pagenaud (Sam Schmidt Motorsports) and Scott Dixon (Target Chip Ganassi Racing), and by five cars running Chevrolet engines: Penske's Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe; Panther Racing's JR Hildebrand; KV Racing's Tony Kanaan; and Andretti Autosport's Marco Andretti.
More testing is due on Tuesday January 17 with Graham Rahal taking over from Scott Dixon, and Will Power from Helio Castroneves. No timings were released from this week's closed test sessions.
Picquenot said that the plan was to complete 1000 miles of running in the tests - about half the estimated life for an IndyCar engine - so that the Lotus power plant can then be stripped down and examined for any emerging problems. A second unit would then be installed for the next closed test at Homestead-Miami Speedway next week.
It was also confirmed that the IndyCar teams will return to Sebring early in March for pre-season open tests ahead of the season opener in St Petersburg on March 25.
Andretti Autosport, Dale Coyne Racing, Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Dragon Racing, HVM Racing, Team Penske and Sam Schmidt Motorsports will test on March 5-6, while AJ Foyt Racing, Bryan Herta Autosport, Ed Carpenter Racing, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing, Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi Racing, KV Racing Technology, Panther Racing, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Michael Shank Racing Indy will test on March 8-9.
Firestone Indy Lights teams will also be testing at Sebring that week, on Wednesday March 7.
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