So the IZOD IndyCar Series teams have something back at Mid-Ohio (the 14th of 19 races in 2013) this weekend for the first time since April: a normal schedule for a road or street course event.
It’s going to feel like a lot of track time before showtime for the 24 cars, because it is. The last two street course events, Detroit and Toronto, were doubleheader weekends. The series had only one 90-minute practice before qualifying on Friday, and a second session (12-minute qualifying) on Saturday morning before the first race on Saturday. At Brazil in May, the schedule was condensed into two days.
But at Mid-Ohio (Sunday, 3 p.m. ET, NBCSN), the series has been afforded a swath of track time. A full open test day was held Wednesday, and three 45-minute practice sessions (two Friday, one Saturday) will occur before qualifying Saturday afternoon. It marks the return of a traditional road and street course weekend schedule for the first time since Long Beach, the third race of 2013, back in April!
Firestone will provide the teams the same tire compound and construction as was offered at Barber, the second race of 2013. Mid-Ohio is the first race on a permanent road course since then, and second of three this season (Sonoma on August 25).
Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.
The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.
“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.
Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”
Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.
“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.
Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.