Five drivers from three different teams in the Verizon IndyCar Series hit the pavement today at Sebring International Raceway. The two-day test session will prepare the crews and drivers for the upcoming 2017 season, which begins on March 12 in St Petersburg (12 PM ET on ABC).
Fresh faces were behind the wheel today, as Sebastien Bourdais and Rookie Ed Jones made their debut with Dale Coyne Racing. AJ Foyt Racing also had their two new drivers on hand, with Carlos Munoz and Conor Daly. In addition to those four, was the veteran of the bunch; Graham Rahal with RLL Racing.
Rahal was excited to finally be able to work with new engineer consultant Tom German, who has five Indianapolis 500 wins, including last year with Alexander Rossi at Andretti Autosport. The No. 15 Honda machine was dressed in the familiar United Rentals livery, and was music to the ears of many on Tuesday morning.
Bourdais started nine races with Coyne’s team in 2011, and is looking forward to the upcoming season. He, like Rahal, tested at Gateway Motorsports Park last October. Although he will have a teammate to work with this year, it will be in the form of a Rookie driver. Still, the team will have a tremendous boost in their engineering department with the additions of Olivier Boisson, Craig Hampson (Bourdais) and Michael Cannon (Jones).
Jones tested with RLL during the past two years, but is now ready to make the transition to IndyCar full-time after winning the Indy Lights Championship last season. “It was my first ever test at Sebring so there was a lot of learning to do,” Jones told Motorsport.com. “I did the most laps of anyone, and I feel happy with how the day went – I made a lot of progress. I don’t know how many more tests I’ll have before the season starts so we needed to make it count.”
It was a big day of changes for the Foyt crew, from top to bottom. The team made the switch from Honda to Chevrolet engines and aero kits. Both Munoz and Daly have only driven Honda-powered cars in the series. To help with the massive overhaul, the team hired former IndyCar technical ace Will Phillips to be their new Technical Director. While it is going to be a year of change for the legendary organization, it is definitely change for the better. For the first time in quite awhile, there is an exciting buzz around this team.
Below are some photos from Tuesday, courtesy of IndyCar.
The next scheduled test is set for February 7 at Sonoma Raceway, where Ed Carpenter Racing and Schmidt Peterson Motorsports will be. Three days after that is the big Open Test at Phoenix International Raceway.