Rahal comments on Indy road course test
Graham Rahal drove the No. 15 blu eCigs Dallara-Honda-Firestone on two configurations of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course today and was happy for the opportunity to drive his Indy car in this historic test. He completed 44 laps on the course used for the GRAND-AM event and 20 laps in the afternoon on the reverse configuration with the MotoGP loop.
The test was organized by Indianapolis Motor Speedway and INDYCAR officials to gather information about the current course layouts as the Indianapolis Motor Speedway considers changes and upgrades. Speedway officials plan to invest nearly $100 million in the facility as part of a long-term master plan that could include modifications to the road course to allow it to accommodate INDYCAR testing or racing in the future.
Quotes from Graham and Bobby Rahal follow:
Graham Rahal, driver of the No. 15 blu eCigs Dallara-Honda-Firestone entry: (said after his run on the first configuration:) “I think that having a road race here would be great. We’re not going to fill this place, we all know that but it really doesn’t matter, it’s a totally different thing (from the Indy 500). We really don’t use much of the oval so I think it would be really cool. The layout is going to change. I actually, quite frankly, like the current one; I was having a ball. It’s slippery but that makes it kind of enjoyable. We will have to see what changes are made in the future but what I found is that the braking zones are extremely grippy therefore you can brake really late and have some opportunities for guys to go side-by-side on a lot of parts of the track and I think that would put on a good show. Ultimately with the long straightaway, using part of the oval there you are going to see huge variation in setup, huge variation in the race. Guys can run a lot of downforce to try to be really quick in the infield and try to pull away enough that on the straightaway he doesn’t get passed. And you are going to see guys that trim it all out and be 15 mph faster on the straight but struggle in the infield and I think that could make the racing extremely exciting.
“It’s a little different going the opposite way around, but it’s actually not a bad track. Everybody knocks it, but I’ve had some fun. You’re sliding around; there’s not a lot of grip. So I could see how a MotoGP rider wouldn’t really enjoy it. The track layout as it is, would it be great for passing? There are really only two spots. But that’s why we’re trying a lot of different configurations to analyze and potentially help.
“This is Indy car country; I love being here, I love racing around here. The atmosphere in the Midwest, and particularly in Indy, is unlike anything else. I know it’s not going to be the 500, we all know that but if we can put on a good show, and get a good crowd and have a good vibe going into the month of May, it would be awesome. Times have changed. What was IndyCar 100 years ago isn’t what IndyCar is today. We have to change with the times.
“I suggested a few things already and IMS and INDYCAR want input. When I showed up I thought we shouldn’t use Turn 1 at Indy. We shouldn’t run on the oval at all. But I think that’s what is going to make the racing so good. If you’re leading on the last lap you’re bound to get passed by anyone within eight car lengths. The tow someone would get down the front straight would be massive.
“How do you put a quick lap in? Do you set up the car to go for the front straight or the infield? That could be an intriguing mix race day. Having a straightaway this long, with the top speed of about 190 (mph), it’s quite a mix. I think that would make the racing extremely exciting here.
(On the second track configuration that was tested in the afternoon:) “The second configuration really wasn’t anything like we would run anyway, it was only to get an idea how some of the corners would work. It would be changed quite considerably before we would run it but I think the first way we ran was better for me, I enjoyed it more. At the end of the day we are here to do what was asked and try different things. I think we got through quite a lot.”
Bobby Rahal, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing co-owner and 1986 Indy 500 winner: “I feel privileged to be a part of (the test day) and excited about the idea. Just as Daytona has a number of events leading up to the 500, why not Indianapolis with a road course race in early May? I was very much a traditionalist until the stock cars came here. They’ve had Grand Prix races, Grand-Am races, bike races and even the mini-marathon, and I understand why it’s become a multi-event facility. I’m all for it.”