The future of Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires was in evidence yesterday as 2011 Pro (Star) Mazda champion, 2012 Indy Lights champion and 2013 Verizon IndyCar Series Rookie of the Year Tristan Vautier put the brand-new AER turbo-powered Dallara IL-15 chassis through its paces for the first time during an exclusive test session at the 13-turn, 2.258-mile Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
The exciting new car which incorporates advanced electronic controls and all the very latest safety features, was shaken down briefly last week at Putnam Park Raceway, just west of Indianapolis, but yesterday marked its first full day of development testing. The car performed flawlessly, with Vautier taking advantage of perfect weather conditions to complete a total of 85 laps, including a best lap already a half-second faster than Jack Harvey’s pole time from the weekend’s Grand Prix of Mid-Ohio Indy Lights double-header.
“The goal was to come here and do mileage, which we achieved,” said President and Founder of NZR Consulting Tony Cotman, who has been responsible for the bid and design process of the new car. “The car is obviously very fast, so that’s good. As I have said all along, it is important for us to get the car in a position that, when the teams get it, all the bugs are sorted out and we can give them a pretty good baseline. It was a lot of work to get the car put together the last couple of weeks and all the partners have done a fantastic job and given us a good starting point.”
“We are extremely satisfied with the very first official test for the IL-15,” added Stefano De Ponti, head of Dallara’s U.S. operations. “There’s a lot of happiness for the great job we have done as a group together with Dan Andersen, Tony Cotman, AER, everyone. The car seems to be working very well and the driver is happy. We are looking ahead now for more testing to develop the car to check for more reliability and more speed.”
The day began just a few minutes after 9:00 a.m. with Vautier completing several installation laps to confirm that an oil system glitch, which had created excessive back pressure and resulted in restricted running last week, had been rectified. Vautier then moved on to longer runs, including a series of 15-lap stints during the afternoon, by which time the ambient temperature had risen into the 80s.
“My first impressions are that the engine is great, the drivability is already right there and the gearbox is amazing,” said Vautier following his morning runs. “The brakes I think are the biggest step forward. They are really, really good. The balance was off at the start obviously, but we made a couple of small changes and the car came alive.
“A really good day,” he concluded following an extremely productive afternoon. “It went very smoothly. We didn’t have any major issues which is always good with a brand-new car, and we finished faster than the pole position that was set this past weekend with a 1:13.40. The car is a lot of fun to drive. It’s a blast. Everything about it is better than the old car. It’s a proper car that prepares drivers better for IndyCar as well. It has very similar characteristics in the way it responds on track – better braking, better acceleration, better everything. So, definitely a lot of potential.”
The Frenchman’s thoughts about the car echoed those of 2010 Pro Mazda champion, Indy Lights race winner and current GP2 Series competitor Conor Daly, who had been entrusted with the initial shakedown duties last week.
“I think it’s a massive step in the right direction for the series,” said Daly, who was on hand in the morning before having to leave for a sponsorship meeting. “It’s awesome to be honest. The experience I have got now over in Europe from racing basically all of the Dallaras that are on the market, it’s cool to experience this new one and I think it’s what the series needs. It’s big, it’s fast, it’s high-tech – it’s the future.”
The distinctive sound of the turbocharged, 2.0-liter, four-cylinder AER P63 engine attracted many positive comments, as did the fact that it ran flawlessly all day.
“I think the first test went exceptionally well for everyone involved – chassis, brakes, engine, transmission,” said AER Engineering Manager Andrew Saunders. “There were virtually no issues. All systems were working and there was no real attempt to fine tune the car. We were just trying to get miles on it which we achieved. I’m looking forward to Indianapolis and running a wide-open throttle on the Speedway.”
Testing will continue at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval on August 12 and 14 with a four-day test scheduled for the Speedway road course beginning August 18. Vautier and Daly will continue sharing driving duties.
“This really has been a tremendous day,” said Dan Andersen, Owner and CEO of Andersen Promotions. “The level of teamwork in this project has been exceptional and I have to congratulate Tony and all of our partners including Cooper Tires for a job well done. To see a brand-new car perform so well right out of the box bodes extremely well for the final product our teams will receive.”
Source: Indy Lights PR
Colombian driver Gabby Cháves earned his first win in the Firestone Indy Lights series, today at Mid-Ohio. Cháves led every lap after starting from the pole, and only was challenged for the top stop in the start of the race, with Peter Dempsey making a risky move on the outside on Turn 1. Dempsey finished second and Jack Hawksworth third. Colombian Carlos Muñoz was the man of the race, after he had an spin early on while trying to pass Hawksworth and managed to recover to fourth place after falling to last place.
Mexican Juan Pablo García finshed sixth, venezuelan Jorge “Pollito” Goncalvez was ninth and Giancarlo Serenelli was eleventh and last.
Muñoz still leads the standings, with Cháves now in second place. All Colombia in the top spots of the Indy Lights series.
1. (1) Gabby Chaves, 40, Running
2. (2) Peter Dempsey, 40, Running
3. (3) Jack Hawksworth, 40, Running
4. (4) Carlos Munoz, 40, Running
5. (5) Zach Veach, 40, Running
6. (7) Juan Pablo Garcia, 40, Running
7. (6) Axcil Jefferies, 40, Running
8. (9) Sage Karam, 40, Running
9. (8) Jorge Goncalvez, 40, Running
10. (10) Matthew Di Leo, 40, Running
11. (11) Giancarlo Serenelli, 38, Running
Photo: Bret Kelley – IndyCar Media
Juan Pablo Garcia has secured a seat with Team Moore Racing for the 2013 Indy Lights season. The 25 year old driver from Mexico will participate in his second consecutive season in the category. In 2012, he raced for Jeffrey Mark Motorsport. Moore has a lot of experience with latin-american drivers as the first win for the team was courtesy of chilean driver Pablo Donoso Prado at Sonoma Raceway in 2008. The Indianapolis based team also had colombian Gustavo Yacamán as driver in 2012, and they went on to a great season in which Yacamán finished third in the standings with two wins.
Juan Pablo Garcia‘s best result in 2012 was seventh, which he got at St. Petersburg and Long Beach. He finished ninth in the point standings, with 260 points, 201 adrift from champion Tristian Vautier from France.
“I am pleased to announce that in 2013 I will be racing in the Firestone Indy Lights series for Team Moore Racing, which has proven to be very competitive, to win races and consistently get good results. I hope to have a great year. The team is very happy with what I could show last year and I’m sure I will one hundred percent support to give me the weapons to fight for first place. This is not a pressure, but a motivation to show what they learned last year. In addition, for the first time we will have a second full season in the same category and that will be a great advantage, because I know the car and have walked and raced in all the tracks, except for the two new additions that are Pocono and Houston. So this is a big advantage, because I will be able to concentrate on tuning the car, instead of having to learn the track in the first practice. We will have the first practice on January 22 th and 23 th at Homestead-Miami Speedway and will be very important from the first session to good communication with my engineer, to be competitive from the first race. This challenge is very important to me and I am very happy to join this team. I want to thank my sponsors International, Mapfre, Euclid Chemical, TVC AutoShow More Latino TV and everyone who has supported me to continue my career as a driver in the Indy Lights Series and I am very grateful to all of them ” said Garcia.
From childhood, speed has been part of Jose Luis’ life. He follows closely the Mazda Road to Indy, GP2 Series and of course Formula 1, with special focus on latin-american drivers. He has collaborated with hispanic drivers involved in almost every major racing series in the world. You name a latin-american driver, he knows him or her.
Colombian driver Gustavo Yacamán will start his 2013 season in racing by joining the N°06 team for Michael Shank Racing in the 24 Hours of Daytona. Since yesterday, friday January 4th, Yacamán is with his three teammates in the 06 car, experienced drivers Michael Valiante and Chris Cumming and venezuelan youngster Jorge “Pollito” Goncalvez, who shared the 06 car with Yacamán, brazilian Felipe Nasr and NASCAR veteran Michael McDowell in the last edition of the Rolex24.
“We’re talking about the second most important event of the world in terms of endurance racing. It’s a race in which we achieved a great result and we learned lots of secrets to be competitive for 24 hours last season.We’re going to work very hard in all aspects as a team. The synergy with Michael Shank Racing is total and all drivers have great relationship with each other and the team members. The idea is to be very strong this year. I’m already very familiar with the team’s new car, which was developed by Ozzi Negri and John Pew, during the previous season. We’re ready and we hope this is the start of a great year!” said Yacamán.
2012 was the best season ever for Yacamán in the United States. He finished third in the Firestone Indy Lights series with two wins (Toronto and Detroit) and got a podium in the24 Hours of Daytona with Michael Shank Racing.
Yacamán sponsors are Crepes & Waffles, Lubricantes Coexito, Bateria Mac, Biomax, Tuvacol, Protección, Siesa, Cementos Argos, EPSA, Cine Colombia, Gases de Occidente, Calida, World Games Cali 2013 y Café de Colombia.
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