His challenge for the Firestone Indy Lights title may have faded after a stunning to start to his rookie season, but Dillon Battistini has taken the next step towards graduating to the senior IndyCar Series by testing Vitor Meira's regular mount at Kentucky Speedway.
Rescheduled after a previously-planned outing at the Watkins Glen International road course was cancelled earlier in the year, the test provided a first taste of the more powerful Dallara-Honda IndyCar for reigning Asian F3 champion Battistini, who hopes to step up to the senior class either later this season or in time for 2009.
“It was a thrilling day for me," the Briton admitted, "I am very pleased with my run, and it felt great to finally get behind the wheel of an IndyCar. I'm happy to be able to have this opportunity to show what I can do.”
Battistini turned a fastest lap of 24.590secs in the #4 Delphi/National Guard car around the 1.5-mile oval, putting him on pace with the best times of the day.
“The car felt faster then what I am used to, but it didn't feel quite as fast as I thought it would," he revealed, "It is much more physical to handle then my Indy Lights car, but I got used to that quite quickly. I want to thank [team owner] John Barnes for giving me the opportunity, and also want to thank Vitor, [race engineer] David Cripps and the rest of the crew for helping me out during the test.”
Battistini not only left an positive impression on many of the Delphi National Guard crew, who thought that he had exceeded expectations, but also on team-mate Meira.
“I was impressed with the way that Dillon drove the car," the Brazilian noted, "He adjusted quickly, which is not an easy thing to do, and was pretty fast.”
With Battistini's run completed in the middle of the day, the beginning and the end of the session saw Meira turn a fastest lap of 24.500secs - only 0.09secs faster than Dillon's best.
“We had a good day of testing here, and both tried many different set-ups to see what was working and was not, and we found some speed,” Meira said, “The Delphi/National Guard car should be very competitive next week when we come back here [for the Meijer Indy 300].”