12 April 2015
IndyCar: Wet weather submerges NOLA warm-up session
Inclement weather has claimed another IndyCar session in Louisiana, with Sunday morning's warm-up session abandoned amid heavy rain.
The Verizon IndyCar Series continued to fight a losing battle against the elements in Louisiana, with Sunday morning's half-hour warm-up session the latest casualty in the war on weather.
Race control had already decided to pull forward the day's planned schedule by an hour in an effort to outfox the weather systems that continue to plague the area around the city of Avondale near New Orleans where the NOLA Motorsports Park is located, which is the venue for today's Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana.
But the attempt was to no avail when it came to the new start time for the warm-up session, which was greeted with heavy rain across the local area, although at least on this occasion there was no sign of the electrical storms that had previously disrupted Friday's second practice and then forced race officials to abandon Saturday afternoon's qualifying session midway through.
On Sunday morning, the official reason for the cancellation of the session was that conditions were so bad that the emergency medical helicopter had been grounded and would not be able to take off in the event of an on-track accident.
In truth it's unlikely that any of the teams or drivers would have dared set foot out on the 2.74-mile, 13-turn road course which is being used for the first time under race conditions by the IndyCar Series this weekend.
While IndyCar does race in the rain and has a full supply of Firestone wet weather tyres, there is a limit to what any tyre compound can achieve in seriously adverse conditions. The track and pit lane were visibly flooded, and the danger of cars aquaplaning off would have been enough to persuade that discretion was the better part of valour and kept them safely tucked up in the garage, rather than risk a costly excursion into a tyre wall for little reward in terms of set-up adjustments or race data.
At one point, track workers even deployed a snow plough to try and sweep away some of the deepest pools of water that had started to accumulate out on the track, while teams used driers to attempt to get their pit stalls into a serviceable condition in case conditions improved sufficiently for the track to go green.
When they didn't, race control officially abandoned the session, meaning that the next time the IndyCar field will fire up its engines will be for the race itself, which is now scheduled for 1:45pm local time, or 7:45pm BST - an hour earlier than originally planned.
While the local forecast is still for rain and a strong chance of further electrical storms, the weather radars are more optimistic. Once the existing weather system bringing the current heavy rain pushes past Avondale there appears to be a promising break in cloud cover that might well coincide with the new time for the green flag.
That situation could change in the next three hours before the race is due to get underway, and the race could end up being disrupted or even shortened by further rain storms building up in the interim, but it's as hopeful as things are likely to get and race control indicated a degree of optimism that was shared by the drivers and teams who were as frustrated by the rain delays as the drenched fans were.
"All drivers want to race today," said Graham Rahal on Twitter. "I think it will happen. Conditions will be terrible, but we can do it. I would love a rain race!"
He could well regret wishing for that in a few hours time, however.
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