Robert Doornbos went from the streets of St. Pete to the high banks of TMS
Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing (NHLR) driver Robert Doornbos has yet to make his racing debut on an oval in his rookie season of IndyCar Series competition but he added another day of testing at the high-banked, 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway today to aid in his preparation. He will make his oval racing debut at Kansas Speedway on April 25-26 in the Road Runner Turbo Indy 300 before returning to this track June 4-6 for the Bombardier Learjet 550.
“I was very happy to go testing straight away after a race weekend,” said Doornbos, who ran over 100 trouble-free miles. “St. Pete is behind us now and we have to focus on a lot of things coming up and the first was the test at Texas Motor Speedway. It went really well in my opinion. It was the first time for me to drive on such a banked oval. We were up to speed very quick; a lot faster than I got up to speed in Homestead so I am getting the hang of the ovals. We found some good things about the setup so the engineers did a great job testing new items. The mechanics worked really hard to turn the car around from a street course car to an oval one. It was sunny but at the end of the day the wind licked up and driving was a bit tricky; I had some small moments. Now the focus changes to the next target which is the A1GP race in Portugal and then back to the U.S. to focus on the race in Long Beach. I’m very busy but also very happy.”
“Robert got up to speed quickly and acclimatized himself to the high-banked oval,” added Brian Lisles, general manager of Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing. “This was the first time we ran the longer wheel base mandated by the IndyCar Series and we were happy with our lap times. Robert showed plenty of speed for a rookie.”
Doornbos will board a flight tonight bound for Portugal and will compete for Team Netherlands in the A1GP race in Algarve this weekend. In his two previous A1GP races in China (Nov. ‘08) and New Zealand (Jan. ’09) he had much success. He started and finished second in his series debut in the sprint race in Chengdu, China as well as set the second fastest race lap. And started eighth in the feature race and set the fastest race lap but finished 16th. In New Zealand, he started second and finished third in the sprint race and started second and finished fifth in the feature race. Fellow ICS driver Marco Andretti was also in those races.
The next round of the 2009 IndyCar Series season will be the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, April 17-19. It will be the 26th consecutive race in Long Beach for NHLR and the team hopes to add to their six wins, 11 poles and 14 podium finishes there. Justin Wilson started from pole for NHLR last year but engine failure on Lap 13 ended his race. Graham Rahal had a podium in sight when he was attempting to take third last year but contact during this pass dropped him back. Robert Doornbos will make his second start in Long Beach. In 2007 he battled pit stop troubles related to the new Panoz chassis as well as gearbox problems and finished four laps down. After being competitive in the St. Pete opener, the team is optimistic of a strong result in Long Beach.
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