Firestone Indy Lights veterans Gustavo Yacaman and Sebastian Saavedra (LEFT) led Wednesday's open test for IndyCar's top support series at Sebring International Raceway. Yacaman edged Saavedra in the final minutes with a best lap of 56.49sec to Saavedra's 56.57.
Colombian driver Yacaman returns to Team Moore Racing for his second season with the team and fourth overall in the series, while Saavedra announced he'd step back to the championship after his rookie year in IndyCar, and resume with the team in which he drove his rookie season in 2009, AFS/Andretti Autosport.
"Today was a lot of carryover from what we've done since last season," Yacaman said. "I'm happy with the performance today, but we still need to go quicker. The competition in the series is going to be really tough. Last year, I might have been too aggressive and too cocky going into the year. I got knocked down a bit. We're just going to have to work our butts off to keep this pace against some very tough competition."
"Working with this team today was like the same feeling I had in 2009," Saavedra said. "The test went exactly how we expected. I was able to catch the feeling of the Indy Lights, which was good. It allowed us to get with the testing program and components that we want to use for St. Pete. I think we did a great job. Now we need to focus on what's coming for St. Pete."
Juncos Racing' pairing of Peter Dempsey and J.V. Horto – yet to be officially announced – timed in at 57.11 and 57.44 with Juan Pablo Garcia fifth. Yacaman's TMR teammate David Ostella, new series owner/driver Rodin Younessi and Fan Force United pilot Armaan Ebrahim also took times.
Younessi was nowhere near the pace, more than 5 seconds off the leading times around the 1.67-mile Sebring short course, while Ebrahim's day ended early with a crash in Turn 6. He was unharmed, but his car wasn't.
Two of the series' top teams, Sam Schmidt Motorsports and Belardi Auto Racing, didn't participate in the test, leaving five quality cars off the times. The series has 11 confirmed car and driver combinations at the moment, with the Juncos test pairing likely and at least two other drivers rumored to be in contention for other seats before the St. Petersburg season opener March 25.