Road America returns to the calendar for 2016 and reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon was joined by nine other drivers as they took part in a team test on Tuesday (22 September).
“It’s good to be back here, but quite strange coming back to such a large track,” said Dixon, who last drove at Road America in 2002 in CART. “It’s nice to be back in this area and see so many fans out today, especially for a test day for the first time. The race itself should be pretty good and racing here is the heart of American road racing.”
Dixon was joined by Chip Ganassi Racing Teams teammates Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball, Team Penske‘s Will Power, Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud, Graham Rahal of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Takuma Sato of AJ Foyt Racing and Josef Newgarden of CFH Racing.
“The last time I was here was 12 years ago, but Road America is always on my list of favourite tracks,” Kanaan said. “Coming back here today was a blast. It’s a fast track and such a long course that it’s awesome. I’ve enjoyed it, but not being here for 12 years, the first few laps this morning were really cool.”
While there were some drivers with experience, Sato, Newgarden and Kimball all had their first taste of the 4.048 mile road course in an Indycar (Newgarden drove Skip Barber National Series there, while Kimball took part in formula Ford 2000 early in their careers).
“There’s nothing like it on the calendar before,” said Sato. “In terms of downforce, it could be one of the lowest downforce we use, but the layout of the track is completely different. It’s a very classic track that’s narrow and bumpy. There are a lot of high-speed corners and some 90-degree corners as well.”
Rahal was impress with the cornering speeds of the current cars, having finished third at his only outing at the track in 2007.
“You forget how fast it is and in these cars, it’s very quick,” Rahal said. “Today I’ve been surprised at the way the car pulled down the straights. I thought that was going to be the weak link. Our best lap time versus (when I was here in) 2007, we’re not that far off.”
While the drivers gained experience out on track, spectators were able to get a taste of the current Indycar field with proceeds from admission going to Wilson Children’s Fund to benefit the family of the late Justin Wilson.