Ten drivers from five Firestone Indy Lights teams will prepare for the upcoming stretch of road/street course races with a one-day private test at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course a few days before heading to the oval at Iowa Speedway.
Among the drivers expected at the 2.258-mile road course are the top seven drivers in the Firestone Indy Lights standings – points leader J.K. Vernay (Sam Schmidt Motorsports), Charlie Kimball (AFS Racing Andretti Autosport), James Hinchcliffe (Team Moore Racing), Martin Plowman (AFS Racing Andretti Autosport), Sebastian Saavedra (Bryan Herta Autosport), Stefan Wilson (Bryan Herta Autosport), Philip Major (Sam Schmidt Motorsports).
"We had a five-week break between Long Beach and Indy and have another three weeks off between Indy and Iowa, so to get in the car and get seat time is good," said Hinchcliffe, who finished second in the Mid-Ohio 100 in 2009. "It's a road course test, but to get track time and get everyone on the team back at speed is a good thing, plus Mid Ohio is a cool track to drive on."
While outright speed may not be the ultimate goal of the test the added dimension of having most championship protagonists on track gives the test day a race feel, still the drivers know what their job is at the end of the day.
"It makes it a more productive day when all the frontrunners are going to be there," Hinchcliffe said. "It makes it tough to compare yourself to others if you go on different second day, but at the same time, you don't want to show your hand. Still it's good to know where you stack up."
Also expected to join the test session is 2009 Star Mazda champion Adam Christodoulou, who will drive one of Andersen Racing's cars as part of an expansion of the Indy Racing League's "Road to Indy" program in which the 2009 and 2010 Star Mazda series champion earns a test with a top Firestone Indy Lights team.
"I've been an open-wheel racer all my life, so I've very excited to get back behind the wheel of a single-seater for my test with the Andersen Racing Indy Lights team," Christodoulou said. "And the fact that my time in the car will take place during a private test with several top teams participating will give me a good comparison of my pace against other the top drivers in the series.
"The opportunities that arise from being part of the Star Mazda Championship, the Road to Indy and the MAZDASPEED Ladder are much greater than anything that exists in Europe. These programs have provided a huge boost to my career, and I would recommend them to any driver who is serious about advancing their ambitions to have a professional career in motorsports."
The test is being conducted in cooperation with Performance Friction, the exclusive brake pad and disc supplier to both the Star Mazda Championship and the Cooper Tires Presents USF2000 National Championship Powered by Mazda – the first two rungs of the Road to Indy ladder system. Performance Friction is also the overwhelming brake component choice for teams competing in the Firestone Indy Lights.
"With Andersen Racing's involvement in all steps on the Road to Indy ladder, we are delighted to work with Performance Friction and Star Mazda in making this exciting test program a reality," said Andersen Racing co-owner Dan Andersen. " So many Star Mazda drivers in recent years have successfully transitioned into Indy Lights, and now with the support of PFC, more drivers can sample the next step properly. We look forward to seeing what Adam can do at the wheel of one of our cars at Mid-Ohio."