Mario Moraes hadn't sat in an Indy car for nearly five months during the winter, but the fiery Brazilian is now showing that the break might have been beneficial. Moraes, the youngest full-time driver in the IZOD IndyCar Series at age 21, turned in an impressive drive at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach when he drove his No. 32 KV Racing Technology Dallara-Honda from 15th to sixth in the 85-lap feature event.
The Brazilian rejoined KV at the season opener in Sao Paulo, Brazil without any preseason testing with the team – and became involved in a spectacular crash with Marco Andretti in the opening seconds of the race. He failed to finish in round 2 at St. Petersburg, then finished a quiet 16th at Barber Motorsport Park. But, at Long Beach, Moraes regained some of the flash that he showed with the KV squad last year.
Moraes fought his way past the likes of Dario Franchitti, Marco Andretti, Dan Wheldon, Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves on his way up the order. He credited the addition of veteran engineer Iain Watt, who joined KVRT before the Barber race, for his strong performance.
“Iain and I worked well together,” Moraes related. “I got a good start and tried to save fuel. It is very hard to save fuel on this circuit. We were able to use the tires well, and the car handled very good throughout the race. I was able to make a move on Helio [Castroneves] on the restart in Turn 1. The car just felt good all day.”
With the series now shifting to oval tracks, starting with the Road Runner 300 at Kansas a week from Saturday, Moraes is eager to build on that momentum.
“Iain and I are learning about each other with every race. I am feeling more comfortable with him now and am gaining more confidence with my driving, too,” he said. “Now, we move to straight four oval races and we need to work on that setup in the test this week at Kansas.”