Ganassi encouraged after Barber IndyCar test
By Marshall Pruett | RACER magazine and RACER.com IndyCar correspondent
Defending IndyCar Series champions Chip Ganassi Racing paid a visit to Barber Motorsports Park on Monday where five-time title winner Scott Dixon and rookie Felix Rosenqvist logged valuable miles for their Honda-powered team.
Although no lap times were released from the private test, CGR managing director Mike Hull says there was plenty of speed on display as the New Zealander and Swede completed their first day on track as new teammates.
“We had very similar temperatures and track temperatures compared to the Spring race, minus the rain, and we worked a lot on our road course setups which was good to compare here at Barber,” he told RACER.
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“Rosenqvist was really good and worked hard throughout the day, including the [new Firestone tire] sticker-fest at the end. Very different testing paths for the two guys, but there was also some good direct comparisons between the two that could be made. Lap time-wise, we would have been in good places on the grid. It’s funny; when you don’t work on lap time, it comes to you, and when you try, you can never find it.”
Rosenqvist was plenty happy after climbing out of the No. 10 Honda and getting his first taste of the new universal aero kit and PFC braking system that weren’t on the 2016 model he previously tested alongside Dixon.
“I’ve been to Barber before, so I remembered the track, and the car was what I expected with less grip, but it still has a lot of grip in the high-speed corners; you mostly feel the lack of downforce in the slower corners,” the 26-year-old said.
“I was quite happy to get a run in the car because I haven’t been in something like this for a while; this year I was just in Super GT and Formula E, which wasn’t comparable. It was a bit of a shock to me to realize how quick these cars are.”
If the former CGR tests were a showcase for his capabilities, Rosenqvist says the Barber test was a more natural outing as he worked with Dixon, No. 10 race engineer Julian Robertson, and driver coach Dario Franchitti.
“I love driving these cars, which is why I wanted to go to IndyCar; it’s physical, the tracks are really challenging, and it takes a while to get into the mindset you need,” he continued. “It was like, ‘OK, we’re doing this!’ Working with Scott is always helpful, and the approach was different from my previous tests. It was more calm. Before, it was more pressure, feeling like you had to prove something because there was a chance to race for them. It was a different vibe today; breathe, look at the data, and get comfortable.”
Hull found what he was looking for as CGR’s established star and next-generation talent worked as a unit.
“They complemented each other and helped each other,” he said. “Felix understands what he wants in the race car, and then he’s capable of going out and providing what you want to see after making the change. He understands what he’s capable of doing, and worked well with Julian and Dario and they got a lot out of the car. It was a good day for them.”
“Morris Nunn used to say ‘I want that guy driving my car,’ and you get that feeling with Felix. I certainly had that feeling from the beginning of the day onwards. I think he and Scott work well together, and will continue to because of what they have in common.”
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ABOUT MARSHALL PRUETT
The 2018 season marks Marshall Pruett's 32nd year working in the sport. In his role today for RACER, Pruett covers open-wheel and sports car racing as a writer, reporter, photographer, and filmmaker. In his previous career, he served as a mechanic, engineer, and team manager in a variety of series, including IndyCar, IMSA, and World Challenge.