James Allen will turn his first IndyCar laps next week when the Australian shares the No. 81 DragonSpeed Chevy with team veteran Ben Hanley at Sebring International Raceway.
Signed as DragonSpeed’s test and development driver in 2019, Allen has competed for the Elton Julian-owned team in prototypes across American and European sports car series, and was meant to drive the No. 81 last year before the IndyCar program was curtailed following the Indianapolis 500.
In need of an aeroscreen, the Indiana-based team was forced to skip the recent open test at Circuit of The Americas. Despite having its Dallara DW12 chassis updated to accept the aeroscreen, the upcoming Sebring test was in jeopardy of falling through until a plea was made to outfit the No. 81 Chevy with the new and mandatory driver protection device.
With Julian’s plight received by the series, an aeroscreen was delivered late this week, keeping the test for Allen, and Hanley, on schedule for Sebring. Having announced a six-race plan for 2020, Hanley will compete in the first event at St. Petersburg, and provided things go well for Allen in testing, Julian is hopeful the Aussie can make his case for a race seat.
“Let’s hope we can find a path together that takes us there,” Julian told RACER. “James has enormous potential, raw pace and is an attacking racer when the flag drops. This test is a first step towards creating that opportunity.”
Allen will turn laps in the car between Hanley’s efforts to learn the chassis setup needs with the aeroscreen in place for the first time. With both drivers of the same size, and able to use the same seat, the sports car teammates should have an easy time stepping in and out of the cockpit.
“As everyone knows, the limited testing opportunities for a part-time team means we have to split our running between our race driver and our development driver,” Julian added. “James will be getting mileage in between bigger changes and debriefs.
“We are confident our development program over the two days at Sebring will run smoothly from the driver’s seat.”