Poor forecast scratches Rookie Orientation at Indy

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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.

Marco Andretti confident that fewer tests won’t hurt Andretti Autosport

Photo: IndyCar
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A small point of debate around the 2018 aero kit has been the manufacturer test days that took place through the Fall of 2017 and into the beginning of 2018. Chiefly, the debate has centered around teams who hadn’t participated in those manufacturer test days and if they’re starting the 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series season at a disadvantage as a result.

Team Penske, Ed Carpenter Racing, and A.J. Foyt Racing completed test days for Chevrolet, with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports and Chip Ganassi Racing doing so for Honda.

That left teams like Andretti Autosport out of the mix, with some voicing concerns as a result.

However, in a press conference during testing at ISM Raceway last weekend, Marco Andretti explained that he thinks Andretti Autosport should be able to catch up on development, citing the team’s resources – they’re the only IndyCar team with four full-time cars in their stable – and the fact that everyone is still adapting to the new kit.

“I feel like it’s early enough days that, yes, we can catch up,” Andretti said at ISM Raceway. “When there is anything new, a new car, new aero kit, at-track days are huge. We can sim all these things we want. To really get out there and confirm what we’re learning back at the shop is another thing.”

Ryan Hunter-Reay during testing at ISM Raceway. Photo: IndyCar

Andretti continued, “Yeah, I don’t think we should look at it like we’re behind the eight ball. With a four-car team, that’s where we can use it to our benefit. So far so good.”

Teammate Ryan Hunter-Reay, echoed Andretti’s sentiments, adding that while the situation is not perfect, they will need to adapt to it in order to remain competitive.

“Any time you have a new car, to put it into perspective, we’re on track three days on a road course before we get to (the season open in St. Petersburg). That’s a very short amount of time. It’s obviously not ideal, but we’re just going to lace up our boots and get on with it. That’s all you can do.”

Andretti Autosport will have one more team test, at Sebring International Raceway later on in February, before the season-opening Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.

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