The first day of private NTT IndyCar Series testing in the new year had a familiar outcome as reigning champion Scott Dixon posted the fastest lap on Sebring International Raceway’s short course.
Dixon’s best unofficial tour of the Floridian road course (52.32s) in the No. 9 Honda was followed by Chip Ganassi Racing teammate Marcus Ericsson (52.42s) in the No. 8 Honda, new CGR driver Alex Palou in the No. 10 Honda (52.45s), A. J. Foyt Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 14 Chevy (52.59s), Carlin Racing’s Max Chilton in the No. 59 Chevy (52.89s), Foyt’s Dalton Kellett in the No. 4 Chevy (52.97s), and Sebring IndyCar newcomer Jimmie Johnson completed the runners in the No. 48 Honda (53.69s).
“We did fight quite a bit with rear issues with a street course package, and worked on a bunch of things and found quite a few things as dampers are concerned,” Bourdais told RACER. “Tried to evaluate the stuff they worked on over the off-season, and in that respect, we got some good reads and learned some stuff. They worked on the shaker rig not so long ago, and we put in a lot of effort to validate what they did. It was a good test.”
Compared to most Sebring IndyCar tests where ambient temperatures in the 80s and 90s are the norm, Chilton says cooler conditions made for a different – and welcome – experience in the first of his two-day test.
“This year, there’s going to be limited in-season testing, so I said let’s use two days now to work through as many of the good ideas our engineers have come up with by putting in a lot of miles at Sebring,” he said.
“We did 140 laps today and won’t do as many tomorrow, but it will be a good use of our time. I’ve got a new engineer, Luke Mason, who was my strategist last year, and we get on quite well. It was a good day, I felt quite fit in the car. It was mid-60s at Sebring, so we had to set the car up different than usual.”
Chilton will stay over for Tuesday’s running where he’ll have Andretti Autosport, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, Meyer Shank Racing, and Foyt’s Kellett to share the track.