Wednesday Testing at NOLA

Testing at NOLA Motorsports Park concluded today, as the same six teams got even more acquainted with the new circuit. You can read more about yesterday’s test session here. Despite not having the new aero kits yet, the two-day test provided teams and drivers with plenty of data to help them in the upcoming season. Learning the layout of the 13-turn, 2.67-mile course (as well as pit road), was just as valuable.

Here are the unofficial lap times from Wednesday:

1. 77.9 – Will Power, Team Penske
2. 78.1 – Graham Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
3. 78.3 – Simon Pagenaud, Team Penske
4. 78.3 – James Hinchcliffe, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
5. 78.4 – James Jakes, Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
6. 78.4 – Juan Montoya, Team Penske
7. 78.4 – Marco Andretti, Andretti Autosport
8. 78.5 – Carlos Munoz, Andretti Autosport
9. 79.6 – Helio Castroneves, Team Penske
10. 78.6 – Ryan Hunter-Reay, Andretti Autosport
11. 78.7 – Luca Filippi, CFH Racing
12. 78.7 – Stefano Coletti, KV Racing
13. 78.7 – Sebastien Bourdais, KV Racing
14. 79.0 – Josef Newgarden, CFH Racing

Some driver quotes from NOLA:

Will Power: “It’s got very tight grip. So it’s fast, but doesn’t look too scary. It’s definitely my kind of track. There’s going to be a lot of good racing.”

Graham Rahal: “It’s going to be tough and competitive. I was talking to a driver who said he was having a hard time holding his head up and that sums this place up. It’s going to be even harder when we come back with heavy downforce and more aero with the new aero kit.”

Josef Newgarden: “It’s a really fun, flowing track. It’s kind of like a European circuit in some parts. It has its challenges because it has bumps in some areas that you have to watch out for and then you have to try to get the most out of the smooth, long, flowing corners to make the cars faster. There is a lot of apex speed that you’re trying to carry around there where you’re fighting the car. I think this track is similar to the Indianapolis road course for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, with very long straightaways and fast corners that lead onto the long straightaways. There is room to race here and with some of the hard braking zones, you’ll see quite a bit of passing. We had such great racing at Indy and hopefully we can replicate that here.”

Helio Castroneves: “First of all, (it) is very technical. It’s going to produce amazing racing and I am sure people in New Orleans are going to be excited. We are talking about some corners with no elevation, which poses problems for points of reference. But with every track there is a different characteristic, and this is another one. It’s different, but fast.”

Carlos Munoz: “It’s a really fast track that will make for an exciting race – for the fans and the drivers. The course is pretty flat so all the spectators, no matter where you’re sitting in the stands, can see all the action on the track.”

Sebastien Bourdais: “It’s always exciting to discover new places. The track is challenging and fun. It has everything between slow-speed, medium and high-speed corners, so it’s a good mix. I think the aero kits will dramatically change the appearance of the car and quite possibly the handling because the aero map is going to be all different. It’s going to be an interesting thing to go through and prepare for this racetrack.”

James Hinchcliffe: “Corners 3 and 5 are quite long, there is a flat-out chicane on the back straight and (Turns) 12, 13 and 14 are all long corners as well. It will be hard on tires as a result and kind of Barber-esque in that respect. When you look at the races we’ve had at Barber (Motorsports Park) the past couple of years, I think this one could be quite good.”

Simon Pagenaud: “This track is similar to the Indy Grand Prix in terms of layout. You have to be really precise with your braking point and the speed you carry into the corners. I think fans will see good racing, a lot of passing and the aero kits will make the cars even faster, which will be a lot of fun to drive. The cars will look different – the Honda to the Chevy – and that will be very attractive to the fans and fun for us to see as well.”

There will be more testing in March, which will include the new aero kits for both Honda and Chevrolet. The inaugural Indy Grand Prix of Louisiana is the second race of the season, and takes place on April 12. Up next for the Verizon IndyCar Series is Media Day, on February 17 at IMS. I’ll be there, and will have a full recap of all the news and happenings right here at OWA.

Below are a few more videos from the NOLA test, posted by AJ Copenhagen on YouTube.

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