A Thursday forecast that calls for poor weather conditions in the Indianapolis area has forced IndyCar to cancel that day’s Rookie Orientation Program at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. According to Curt Cavin of The Indianapolis Star, no make-up date has been given as of now.
“We have been monitoring the weather reports in Indianapolis to make sure the conditions would be suitable for ample on-track activity,” INDYCAR president of operations and strategy Brian Barnhart said to IndyCar.com. “With the strong chance for rain and the lower ambient temperatures, we felt it was best to postpone our Rookie Orientation Program until a later date.”
NBC affiliate WTHR-TV in Indianapolis expects temperatures to only climb into the high 50s on Thursday, which also features a chance for scattered storms.
A.J. Allmendinger, Tristan Vautier, Conor Daly and Carlos Munoz are slated to take part in the exercises, which are mandatory for all first-time Indianapolis 500 racers. The ROP consists of three speed phases that must be passed: 10 laps at 200-205 miles per hour, another 10 laps at 205-209 miles per hour, and 15 laps at 210+ miles per hour.
Rookies are required to complete the first two phases on the designated ROP day, but can complete the final phase during the first week of “500” practice as long as it’s done before Pole Day on May 18.
Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”
The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.
“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”
Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.