So it looks like my predictions in relation to Kiwi racer Scott McLaughlin’s chances of shining at this weeks full Indycar test at Austin Texas’ Circuit of the Americas were a bit off on Monday. In that post I said:
If he isn’t last on the first day next Tuesday, I will be surprised: the competition is that great. But by the close of play on Wednesday, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him floating around mid-point.TheBFD
Well, it looks like I damned Scott with faint praise because he went out there and smashed it out of the park, finishing the two-day test in third place!
A quote from one of the commentators as they were wrapping up, summed that feat up nicely.
I had heard fantastic things about Scott McLaughlin, and I know it’s only a test day, but how many people would have thought that someone with one day in an Indycar, and no previous downforce experience, would be P3? It’s impressive, it’s massively impressive.Indycar live stream commentator.
The two-day test session started out very flat with terrible weather, something that isn’t too uncommon around that area at this time of year. Part of the issue is the lightening that loiters around as the whole thing has to be shut down for safety if that happens, but one of the biggest issues on the day was that the temperature was simply too cold to allow the tyres to get to a safe operating temp.
Firestone has a rule that requires the combination of the ambient temperature and the track temperature to be at least 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38C), and that wasn’t even reached until late in the first day.
Accordingly, very little running took place, with only a few cars even bothering to take to the track, and even then only to test how the new windscreens reacted in the spray. Scott took advantage of this though and did a few laps.
However, the Wednesday (US time) session went much closer to plan allowing all the teams to get in plenty of laps, with rookie Indycar drivers naturally topping the list of laps completed as they make the most of their time in the cars.
What wasn’t expected though was for so many of the rookies to have such good times, with three of them in the top ten.
Yes it is only a test day, and different teams will be working on different aspects of their car’s set-ups, but as Aussie Will Power said in the post-event interview, it always feels great to be at the top of the pylon.
To put McLaughlin’s times in perspective, he was only beaten by two ex Indycar champions, both of which are past Indy 500 winners. He finished one place ahead of current champ and teammate Josef Newgarden and half a second ahead of fellow Kiwi and five-time ex-champ Scott Dixon who came in eighth.
Here’s hoping for big things for Scotty this year. Our next chance to see him race will be at the first round of the V8 Supercar series kicking off at Adelaide in about a weeks time on Feb 20th.
I get the feeling this is going to be a pretty special year for the young fella.
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