Sebring draws a crowd for testing Monday

Simona de Silvestro was warned that the Lotus group wanted to take advantage of every minute of available track time at Sebring International Raceway on Jan. 16.

Eight hours and 161 laps later, the third-year HVM Racing driver was ready for a break. It was the third day of on-track development/testing for the 2.2-liter, twin turbocharged V-6 engine that's mated to the new Dallas chassis. Lotus, with de Silvestro behind the wheel, piled up 156 laps on the Palm Beach International Raceway on Jan. 13-14. She played golf on the interim day.

"It's definitely a busy place because there are no straightaways where you can relax," de Silvestro said of the Sebring short course. "But so far so good. We've had pretty much no issues and I haven't done anything wrong either.

"The engine isn't going full power yet, so I'm trying to be consistent so the engineers can look at data. I think it will help me on race weekends because you have to be consistent. I think it's interesting as a driver to be part of this because you can do so many things with the engine that I didn't know about. It's really special to be part of it, learning things right from the beginning."

Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe of Team Penske (Chevrolet), JR Hildebrand of Panther Racing (Chevrolet), Simon Pagenaud of Sam Schmidt Motorsports (Honda), Tony Kanaan of KV Racing Technology (Chevrolet), Marco Andretti of Andretti Autosport (Chevrolet) and Scott Dixon of Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Honda) also were on site as the three engine manufacturers were on the track for the first time.

Graham Rahal of Service Central Chip Ganassi Racing will take over the steering wheel from Dixon and Will Power is scheduled to get in laps in lieu of Castroneves on Jan. 17, while the other drivers will get a second day on the short course.

Lotus entered the manufacturer competition for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season in November 2010 and chose the John Judd-led Engine Developments Ltd. to design the power plant in May. Olivier Picquenot, the Indy manager for Lotus Motorsport, said the goal is to complete 1,000 miles — half the engine life — by the end of this test session. A second engine will be installed for the Jan. 23-24 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

"It's going to plan," Picquenot said. "It was a huge handicap (to be the last manufacturer on track). Not that it's no going well, but we still have so much to do." Photo Gallery

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