Newman/Haas team to again test Servia and Hinchcliffe
Eight-time Indy car champions Newman/Haas Racing (NHR) are looking forward to continuing their preparation for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season at the IZOD INDYCAR Series open test at Barber Motorsports Park (BMP) March 14-15. Oriol Servia, who brought NHR a win and seven podium finishes, and James Hinchcliffe, who was runner-up to the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights champion will participate in the series’ open test on the 2.38-mile, 17-turn permanent road course in Birmingham, Alabama.
The test is a continuation of NHR’s off-season testing program that included two days of running in December 2010 for Servia and Hinchcliffe at the 1.65-mile Sebring International Raceway road course. The team returned to the track for another two-day test with Hinchcliffe in January. The test at BMP will be the first time for both drivers to run the course in an Indy car.
“I will have my first real taste for the Barber course at the test,” said Servia, who attended the 2010 open test at this track as a spectator. “I am really happy that Spring Training is taking place here so I will have chance to learn before we come back for the race. The track looks challenging and busy. They have done a stellar job with all the surroundings and the museum. It’s a top notch racing facility.
“We do have a lot to accomplish at this test,” added Servia. “The season gets really busy quickly and it will be important to find the best car setup to ensure we can be competitive right away. I haven't raced in a year so the more miles I can do the better. Every time I have sat in a Newman/Haas car has produced some of my best racing moments and I am sure this time will be no different. This year there are more cars and it will be more competitive than ever. It will be great for the fans and extremely challenging for all of us. I expect the tightest field we have ever seen in the IndyCar Series. After having a year off I have never been so ready to work as hard to achieve our goals.”
Although it will be the first time for Hinchcliffe to get behind the wheel of an Indy car at BMP, he competed here in the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights championship en route to runner-up status in the season-ending standings. In the Indy Lights open-test here on Feb. 26, 2010, he set the fastest lap time. On race weekend, he was second fast in the first two sessions and sixth fast in final practice and qualified fifth, which was also his finishing position in the race on April 11, 2010.
“Barber is a terrific track,” said Hinchcliffe. “It is very fast and flowing and that creates a lot of challenges for the driver and the engineers. I think the Indy car will be fantastic to drive there because these long, fast corners will really let me stretch the cars legs and see what it can do. I have to thank the team massively for the chance to test at Barber because this could be a very valuable few days for the race weekend here later in the year. It's also really exciting because the whole series will be there, so it will be a great chance for me to run with many cars on track and get a chance to compare our program against everyone else. It will be cool to share the track with some of the guys I've watched so closely for so many years.
“I have really ramped up my training as the season gets closer,” added Hinchcliffe on his preparation for the 2011 season. “Barber is a physical track so I am making sure that fitness won't be an issue when we hit the track. On top of that I have been in touch with my engineer to discuss the run plan and make sure we maximize our opportunity. Testing is so limited for these days that it's so important to run an efficient test program and accomplish as much as humanly possible! The rookie class for 2011 is looking super-strong. With guys like JR (Hildebrand) and Charlie (Kimball) and now Bia (Ana Beatriz) getting a ride it's shaping up to be a great race for Rookie Of The Year. I am just working as hard as I can to make sure that come St. Pete I am in a Newman/Haas Racing car so we can add our name to that fight.”
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will take place March 25-27 and will be televised live on ABC Sports at 12:30 p.m. ET on March 27. NHR took their first IICS victory, and 106th overall, in the event in 2008 with Graham Rahal behind the wheel.