Gutierrez prohibited from making Oval debut in Texas


Esteban Gutierrez has not been allowed to make his first oval start at Texas this weekend - Credit: Chris Jones / IndyCar

The Dale Coyne Racing outfit will have to look elsewhere for Sebastien Bourdais’ replacement for this weekend’s race at the Texas Motor Speedway after Verizon IndyCar Series officials prohibited Esteban Gutierrez from racing.

Gutierrez had made his debut in IndyCar last weekend around the streets of Detroit but has no prior oval experience, and with the team prevented from testing this week thanks to a testing black out, it leaves the Mexican sitting on the sidelines.

Drivers are required to pass an oval rookie test before they can race, but Gutierrez will be hoping this will be a possibility before the next oval round of the championship at Iowa Speedway, which comes around on 9 July, almost a full month after the adventures around the 1.5-mile oval in Texas.

Gutierrez’s advisor and friend Adrian Fernandez, a former IndyCar star, feels Texas would not have been the best place for him to make his first oval start, feeling that his fellow Mexican could do with a proper testing programme before making the jump.

“It’s not easy by any means to jump in a car without any time or preparation and race at such a hard track like Detroit,” said Fernandez to Motorsport.com.  “That’s extremely difficult regardless of how much experience a driver has with different types of car. So I was very pleased with Esteban. He kept his nose clean and did a decent job under the circumstances.

“But my opinion is that you can do this on a road or street course but I don’t think you should do it on an oval – not without good preparation.

“Texas is one of the most difficult ovals to just come and race, so I would say he should step away from it until he has proper time testing on ovals.”

Oriol Servia is the favourite to step into the ride, while both of Coyne’s other Indy 500 starters James Davison and Pippa Mann could also be chosen for the ride. Should Servia get the drive, it would reunite driver and the team after they competed together in Champ Car back in the 2004 season.