Milka Duno has been placed on probation for the rest of the year by the Indy Racing League after the championship decided to take action over her ongoing lack of competitive pace.
The CITGO-backed Dale Coyne Racing driver's speed on road and street courses has been a concern all season, with her lap times in practice at Edmonton this weekend six to eight seconds off the pace – as has been the case at many events.
She had only contested a handful of non-oval IndyCar races prior to his season – her first full-time campaign in IndyCars – and the team had hoped that she would pick up pace as her experienced increased, but so far that has not been the case. In recent rounds Duno has sat out qualifying and started from the rear, then been pulled out of the race as soon as the leaders started to lap her.
Her probation runs through to the end of 2010, and a statement from the IRL said series officials wanted to see "immediate and substantial improvement to her driving during the remaining events on the 2010 schedule."
The statement added: "Substantial improvement is defined as consistently meeting the performance standards set by the league on a particular circuit. On road and street courses this is measured in terms of time (107 percent of lead car), and on ovals it is measured in terms of speed (10mph of the lead car). In addition to time and speed, other requirements include car control/placement and interaction with other cars on track."
Duno brings substantial funding to the Dale Coyne team, but series boss Randy Bernard said earlier this week that this should not guarantee her place in the championship if she fell below the required standard.
"I don't want to run any sponsor out of the paddock, but we must give our fans a credible series," he said.