LEXINGTON, Ohio – Oriol Servia and Juan Pablo Montoya were selected by INDYCAR to perform initial testing of the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series universal aero kit for a couple solid reasons.
First, since neither currently has a fulltime job driving in the Verizon IndyCar Series or any other racing discipline, they were available for the four scheduled test sessions as the car is prepared to be used by all competitors next season. Following a successful debut test of the superspeedway oval configuration July 25 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the second phase of testing shifts today to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the first application of the road course/street course/short oval configuration.
More important to the selection of the test drivers, both are veterans with thousands of miles of track time under their belts in Indy cars. The perspective and feedback each can bring to the table as INDYCAR works through the testing regimen before turning the new-look car over to manufacturers and teams is invaluable.
Montoya and Servia are familiar with testing a new car out of the box, from back in the late 1990s and early 2000s when Indy car chassis and engine manufacturers would introduce new equipment in the preseason. Montoya also drove in Formula One for six seasons and was on hand for his team’s car unveiling each year, which was a little like Christmas.
“You were always looking forward to (seeing) the new car,” said Montoya, named by INDYCAR to drive the Chevrolet-powered test car. “Actually, sometimes, the first time you got to see the car was when it was launched. It's like we're probably more excited than all the media there because we get to play with a new toy. It's fun.”
Servia joined the CART series in 2000 after winning the Indy Lights championship the year before. As he prepared to drive the car that will be used by all Verizon IndyCar Series competitors next season, a smile came across his face as he recalled days gone by of preseason testing.
“Back in the day, you used to have a new car every year,” said Servia, testing the Honda-powered car with the universal kit for INDYCAR. “The first day that you would put the car on track, you could almost count on it not being a proper test day because there always a lot of little things like electronics to fuel pump (malfunctioning). It was never usually an important part of the car but it was something that would stop you from running.”
No such issues plagued the Indy test and INDYCAR officials are hopeful of a repeat today. Once again, INDYCAR has a lengthy checklist of items to go through with the cars running on the 2.258-mile permanent road course. Follow-up tests with the road/street/short oval kit are planned for Iowa Speedway (Aug. 10) and Sebring International Raceway (Sept. 26).
Testing today at Mid-Ohio is scheduled to run as late as 4:30 p.m. ET, but could conclude earlier if the checklist is completed before that time. The test is open to the public for free, with fans permitted in the track infield and carousel areas, as well as the Turn 2 mound. Grandstands are not open and fans will not have access to the garage area or pit lane.
The next event on the 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series schedule is the ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway on Aug. 20 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network). An intense championship battle is taking shape, with Josef Newgarden on top of the standings with four races remaining. Newgarden’s lead is but seven points over Team Penske teammate Helio Castroneves, with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon a single digit behind Castroneves.