11 drivers test ahead of IndyCar finale
Battling the stiff breeze off Turn 3 and some understeer, Sebastian Saavedra was seeking to quickly get up to speed for the Cafes do Brasil Indy 300 this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway and lay a foundation for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season.
The young Colombian, who started in his first Indianapolis 500 in May, was among 11 drivers testing Sept. 27 on the 1.5-mile oval.
The sanctioning Indy Racing League waived its rule of not testing within seven days of a race to compensate teams for a lost testing day Sept. 4, when a section of safety fencing on the backstretch wasn’t completely installed.
Joining the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Rookie of the Year on the track were Ana Beatriz, who is competing in her fourth IZOD IndyCar Series race of the season for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, and teammate Justin Wilson, Vitor Meira of A.J. Foyt Racing, Ed Carpenter of Panther/Vision Racing, Sarah Fisher of Sarah Fisher Racing, Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves of Team Penske, and Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing.
Additionally, series championship contenders Will Power and Dario Franchitti put down laps on a humid and breezy afternoon/early evening. Power takes a 12-point lead into the 200-lap race under the lights.
“We’re trying to build as many miles as we can in an effort to get something of a full ride,” said Saavedra, who competed in the Indy 500 and Firestone Indy Lights with Bryan Herta Autosport. “More than anything, to have this opportunity with Conquest makes me happy. Everything is building in a good way, and I’m very comfortable being around a good team of people.”
Saavedra is the fifth driver in the No. 36 car this season (Mario Romancini ran through Edmonton, followed by Francesco Dracone, Tomas Scheckter and Roger Yasukawa).
“Sebastian is preparing for next year, and the challenge is everybody has been racing every week or every other week and is comfortable with the car and he is coming in to compete with them,” team owner Eric Bachelart said. “The field is going to be really competitive at Homestead, but we have to start somewhere. We just have to careful and not him too much advice.”
Bertrand Baguette, a rookie from Belgium, has competed the full season in the No. 34 RACB Conquest Racing entry.
“I always find it nice to work with young drivers and see how they can progress and react to what you asked of them,” Bachelart said. “It’s been interesting and so fast this season. I’m very happy with the progress of Bertrand, and Mario progressed quite well as well. Unfortunately, that program came to an end (because of funding).” IndyCar.com