Ryan Briscoe didn’t get to test for his new employers in 2013, so on Friday, he was finally able to step back into a Chip Ganassi Racing IndyCar for the first time as one of their full-time drivers since 2005.
Briscoe raced CGR’s fourth car at last year’s Indianapolis 500, finishing 12th, before racing selected events with Panther Racing the rest of the year. He entered IndyCar as a rookie with CGR in 2005, in the team’s third car. Two years of excelling in part-time opportunities in 2006-’07 led to his full-time seat with Team Penske, which he held from 2008 through 2012.
Now, he will be back full-time in IndyCar after a fractured 2013 that saw him split his time between open-wheel and sports cars. Briscoe expressed a great sense of appreciation for the stability after completing his first laps at Sebring last Friday in the No. 8 NTT Data Chevrolet.
“It feels great. It feels so good to be back doing a test knowing that it’s preparation for an entire season and with a team that we are hoping that is going to be extremely competitive,” Briscoe said, via a Chevrolet manufacturer release.
The quartet of CGR cars were on hand as part of a 10-car Chevrolet manufacturer test, so Briscoe had the opportunity to test alongside teammates Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan and Charlie Kimball. Briscoe will work with Eric Cowdin, who was his engineer for a period at Penske, while Kanaan shifts to the Chris Simmons-engineered No. 10 Target Chevrolet.
“I’m excited. I had a really good first day here in Sebring, got through some set-up items and basic just tuning to understand my driving style to what they have developed already,” Briscoe explained. “Just trying to understand those kinds of things and it was a good day. We come out of the day knowing a lot more than we did going in. It’s a good start to the year.”
Briscoe will be among a host of IndyCar drivers in action at next week’s Rolex 24 at Daytona, Jan. 25-26. He’ll co-drive with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R in the GTLM class of the new TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Briscoe has past experience at the Rolex in Daytona Prototypes, but this will be his first race in the factory Corvette program.
Diaz (right) is another prototype class veteran, with recent PC experience (8Star Motorsports and PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports) added to his LMP2 days with Fernandez Racing.
All three of them also competed in Champ Car World Series races in Mexico City, with Gonzalez and Diaz part of a six-Mexican driver entry in the 2003 race (Adrian Fernandez, Michel Jourdain Jr., Mario Dominguez and Rodolfo Lavin).
Ricardo Gonzalez co-drives the No. 43 RGR Sport Ligier JS P2 Nissan with Bruno Senna and Filipe Albuquerque in the WEC.
Around two-thirds of the Formula E grid also race in the WEC, with the two championships preventing clashes so that drivers do not have to pick between them. As a result, it seems inevitable that one of the races will have to change date.
Jolyon Palmer felt “gutted” after a likely top-10 finish in Sunday’s Hungarian Grand Prix was lost following a spin in the closing stages, costing him his first Formula 1 points.
2014 GP2 champion Palmer joined Renault for its return to F1 as a constructor in 2016, but arrived in Hungary without a point to his name from the opening 10 races of the season.
Palmer was left disappointed on Saturday after a red flag knocked him out of qualifying at the first hurdle, but a long first stint brought him into contention for points.
Palmer moved into the top 10 after jumping Nico Hulkenberg in the pits, only for Renault’s hard work to be undone when he spun off at Turn 4, losing three positions in the process.
The Briton was ultimately classified 12th after Esteban Gutierrez’s time penalty, extending his points drought to 11 races.
“I’m gutted as my first points in Formula 1 were there for the taking,” Palmer said.
“The car was good and I was driving well within myself in P10. I turned in the same as normal at turn four – I wasn’t hanging everything out and I was looking after the tires – but for some reason I lost the car in a massive snap.
“I need to look at everything with my engineers to see if there is anything we could have done to prevent it.
“I was running tenth, we had completed all our pit stops, we had good pace relative to those ahead and behind so it looks like we’ve made a real step forward this weekend.
“It was the best drive of my career today and just one small spin took away those points.
“I’m gutted today but I’ll be fighting to get in the same position or better in Hockenheim.”