Honda representative Graham Rahal and Chevrolet driver Ryan Briscoe's Wednesday test at IMS was both successful and -- despite a few squirly moments through Turns 8, 9 and 10 of the F1 layout -- incident free.
The Indianapolis Motor Speedway and INDYCAR held the feasibility test to gain information to bring to the Board of Directors who will determine the future of a possible IZOD IndyCar Series event at a meeting later this month. Derrick Walker, INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations, spent much of the day on a golf cart scouting every twist and turn. Walker will likely have an important voice on any of the expected improvements to the course.
"We wanted to evaluate the racetrack as it is," said the newly named President of Competition and Operations. "There are a number of ideas to improve overtaking and making the racing more interesting perhaps than it was during the Formula One days. I'm not sure the Speedway needs to make monster changes. There could be some alterations that would improve the racing short term, and then I think if the fans come, you keep doing more and keep doing more. I think you could develop a really unique racetrack out of the infield."
Rahal turned 64 laps on the day and along with his father, Bobby, supports the prospects of an event.
“I think that having a road race here would be great," said the 24-year-old Rahal. "We’re not going to fill this place, we all know that but it really doesn’t matter, it’s a totally different thing (from the Indy 500). We really don’t use much of the oval so I think it would be really cool. The layout is going to change. I actually, quite frankly, like the current one; I was having a ball. It’s slippery but that makes it kind of enjoyable. We will have to see what changes are made in the future but what I found is that the braking zones are extremely grippy therefore you can brake really late and have some opportunities for guys to go side-by-side on a lot of parts of the track and I think that would put on a good show. Ultimately with the long straightaway, using part of the oval there you are going to see huge variation in setup, huge variation in the race. Guys can run a lot of downforce to try to be really quick in the infield and try to pull away enough that on the straightaway he doesn’t get passed. And you are going to see guys that trim it all out and be 15 mph faster on the straight but struggle in the infield and I think that could make the racing extremely exciting."
Briscoe, who was a late add to the test, walked away with positive reviews as well.
"It was definitely strange to be coming off the wrong way on the frontstretch," Briscoe said. "It's a pretty good track, actually. It's got a lot of high-speed corners. Turn 13 (oval Turn 1) is really fast. A lot of high load in the steering wheel and very different to what we do here on the 2.5-mile oval. It's a really different feeling going the other way."
Both cars turned laps on the clockwise Formula 1 track as well as the counter-clockwise MotoGP version and a few laps were turned in the afternoon session using the red sidewall softer compound tire. Rahal and Briscoe both preferred the F1 clockwise direction.
"It's a good road course. As you come down the middle stretch (Hulman Boulevard), it's a very fast corner, and it would make passing difficult," commented, Briscoe. "If you came down that straight into a tighter corner, it would help the racing a little bit. The layout is really nice. It's fast and it's pretty physical, as well."
INDYCAR hopes to announce the full 2014 schedule in the coming weeks.