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Alesi completes first two ROP phases

Alesi added that it had turned out to be an advantage holding his ROP laps over to Friday. "Doing all the phases alone really helped me," he said. "I enjoyed it very much. It went very well. I had good feedback from the car and the track and I learned a lot."

Despite the Firestone Indy Lights Fan Force United team being a very small operation, it doesn't lack for technical team members with formidable expertise of engineering successful Indy 500 cars in the past. As well as team owner Tyce Carlson - himself a former Indy Lights race driver with Indy 500 race experience - there's also a former team owner in engineer Greg Beck. Alesi was appreciative of their help getting him quite literally up to speed this week.

"The team around me is very experienced, so anywhere I turn, when I speak to one of the guys, they give me good advice," the 47-year-old French-Sicilian former Ferrari Grand Prix driver said.

Alesi did not have any time left in the day to make an attempt at completing phase 3 on Friday, but in any case he will now - like Cunningham - be able to finish the certification process during the regular six-hour daily practice sessions that start tomorrow from noon local time and run through to Fast Friday on May 18.

The only rookie not to have completed any phases of ROP is Katherine Legge, who has been unable to participate following the acrimonious split between her Dragon Racing team and its former engine suppliers Lotus a week ago.

Since the first two phases of ROP have to be completed before Opening Day on Saturday, that technically means that Legge cannot enter this year's Indy 500; however, given the unusual nature of the situation regarding Dragon, it's likely that IndyCar will find someway of fitting Legge's ROP laps in over the course of the week - providing that the team's engine situation is resolved in time.

Legge's team mate Sebastien Bourdais has also not been able to run, and is required to complete the same speed tests as a refresher course in the same way that Jourdain already has, as the Frenchman has not raced on the oval at IMS since 2005. Since Bourdais is not formally a rookie, the regulations are likely more flexible in his case than in Legge's.

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Jean Alesi on track during the Indy 500 Rookie Orientation Program on 10 May, 2012.(c) 2012, Walt Kuhn.LAT Photo USA [Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA]
Jean Alesi during the Indy 500 Rookie Orientation Program on 10 May, 2012. (c) 2012, Michael L. Levitt, LAT Photo USA [Photo Credit: INDYCAR/LAT USA]
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