Oriol Servia adapts to new Dragon role, and isn’t done driving

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MIAMI – He hasn’t been in a Verizon IndyCar Series race in 10 months, but with four FIA Formula E races under his belt since September, Oriol Servia has still banked more seat time than most of his IndyCar driver colleagues lately.

Now though, the popular Catalan is embracing his new role as partner and managing director of Jay Penske’s Dragon Racing, having been confirmed to the new role earlier this week.

It’s an interesting contrast for Servia, now 40, who spent parts of the 2000 through 2014 seasons (except 2010) with 11 different teams in CART, Champ Car or IndyCar – and Dragon isn’t among them.

But with his base in California near the team’s Los Angeles area headquarters, and with Penske looking to expand Servia’s role within the team, the new role made sense.

“Hopefully it’s a good one,” Servia said of his move during Friday���s FIA Formula E driver press conference. “Since I joined the series, and joining the team with Jay, I liked where the championship was going.

“From the beginning I was going to be involved in managing and operations. We decided I’d start driving because it’s what I’ve done all my life. I didn’t give up the wheel that easy, trust me.

“But a couple things happened. Loic Duval became available, and we’ve regarded him highly for a while. We saw the opportunity of me taking on a bigger role.”

Servia’s career ran the gamut in IndyCar of these teams: PPI, Sigma Autosport, PWR Championship Racing (the former PacWest), Patrick Racing, Dale Coyne Racing, Newman/Haas Racing (three stints), KV Racing Technology (three stints), Forsythe Racing, Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing (two stints), Dreyer & Reinbold Racing and Panther Racing.

Of those 11 teams, only Coyne, KVRT and RLL still field full-time teams in IndyCar, with DRR likely set for another Indy-only appearance this season.

But the year Servia didn’t race in IndyCar, in 2010, he struck up a relationship with Michael Andretti and got a taste of the managerial side of affairs.

“Something I liked through my career in IndyCar is that I’ve been through a lot of good, and maybe not so good teams,” Servia said. “In 2010, when I wasn’t driving, Michael hired me as a consultant for a few races.

“It’s something I’ve always enjoyed. I’ve got along with Jay well for a few years. We saw a great opportunity for me to step up more on the technical and commercial side of the team.”

Will Servia’s managerial role prevent him from a possible Indianapolis 500 appearance? The answer, definitively, is no.

“We’ve had some good conversations… it’s looking good,” Servia told this writer with a smile, but without giving anything else away.

Servia’s two drivers this weekend are his aforementioned replacement, Duval, and Belgian ex-Formula 1 driver Jerome d’Ambrosio.

Dragon Racing enters the weekend fifth in the Team’s Championship, with 38 points.

Inside IndyCar’s iRacing revolution: Oliver Askew, team take it seriously

SimMetric Labs
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No laps have been turned in the NTT IndyCar Series this season, yet rookie Oliver Askew incessantly is analyzing fresh lap data with his Arrow McLaren SP team.

For the past two weeks, Askew has turned hundreds of laps in iRacing at Watkins Glen International and Barber Motorsports Park, and his support team meticulously has scoured the data in real time.

Race engineer Blair Perschbacher, assistant engineer Mike Reggio and strategist Billy Vincent are connected via all the software and timing systems that are on Askew’s real-world No. 7 Dallara-Chevrolet. After every run, numbers instantly are crunched, and Askew debriefs with his crew on improving the handling of his car in search of every fraction of a second as he would in real life.

WATCH: IndyCar iRacing Challenge, 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday, NBCSN or streaming here

The only difference is Askew is sitting inside a simulation rig housed by a 45-foot trailer in West Palm Beach, Fla., while each team member is in an Indianapolis area home.

“They basically set up their own timing stands in their living rooms,” Askew told NBCSports.com. “It’s awesome.”

It’s the new reality for IndyCar, which will play host to the second round of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge at 2:30 p.m. Saturday (NBCSN) at virtual Barber Motorsports Park.

Last Saturday, Askew started and finished fifth at Watkins Glen International, where he practiced with the advisement of his team for more than 15 hours in the SimMetric Driver Performance Labs simulator. Despite a relative sim racing newbie, Askew, 23, finished only two spots behind Will Power, who has more than 1,500 starts and 150 victories on iRacing road courses.

Askew already has practiced for more than 10 hours this week in his simulator for Barber, where he hopes to make the podium against a 29-driver field that will include many champions and winners.

“We’re taking this very seriously,” he said. “You can tell by the results at Watkins Glen. You know which drivers have built their sims properly. How much they’ve been practicing. Those are the guys who finish up front.

“I’m still trying to represent everyone. It’s cool we have the same paint scheme. We’re just trying to represent Arrow and our partners the best as possible. We know they’re all watching, and it seems the viewership is going up.”


The Jupiter, Florida, native has found an edge through his friendship with SimMetric Driver Performance Labs, which is based in nearby West Palm Beach, Florida. Askew and SimMetric CEO Greg De Giorgis met last year through mutual friends. Last year, Askew had done a few simulator sessions before winning the 2019 Indy Lights championship (and graduating to the ride with Arrow McLaren SP).

With an official simulator partnership in the Road to Indy program, SimMetric’s CXC Motion Pro II simulator travels in a trailer to racing events around the country, providing drivers with extra preparation time for the real world.

The full-motion simulator includes a motion system developed by drivers and engineers, hyrdaulic brakes and force-feedback steering system. Though at the high end for simulators available to the general public, it retails for much less than the seven-figure simulators used by auto manufacturers with race programs.

“While time in a driving simulator will never fully replace real seat time, sim seat time can go a very long way in supplementing the seat time a driver gets,” De Giorgis told NBCSports.com in an email. “With three added benefits you don’t get in the real car: Significantly lower cost per hour, no risk of bodily harm or damage to the car, and of course, no limitations on time.”

There are some limitations for how much Askew can practice, though. A schedule was set up last week so the team, Askew and De Giorgis (who helps run the simulator and maintain communications with the team) could work together while also maintaining self-isolation with their families.

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The trailer with the simulator is parked indoors at the Riviera Beach, Florida, shop of Extreme Velocity Motorsports, which also has an unofficial affiliation with SimMetric.

“We’re practicing social distancing and making sure the trailer and everything is clean,” Askew said. “We’re taking that very seriously. It’s still a job for me, so I need to get what I can out of it.”

He’s gotten a lot from it despite a lack of experience. The team can compare simulation data from iRacing to real-world historical data from past races and test sessions.

Reggio handles fuel data, and Simpson monitors strategy and timing. While setups are fixed for the iRacing IndyCar Challenge, Perschbacher is able to work with brake bias. “He’s just trying to bend the rules as much as we can,” Askew said. “We’ve done a lot with brake bias. That’s pretty much all we can change.”

Fans also can watch Askew practicing via a YouTube channel provided by De Giorgis, who has chatted with viewers about the car’s laps in real time during the streams that are available by clicking here.

Fans will be able to find a live stream of Askew’s race Saturday by clicking here.


It’s all relatively new to Askew, who doesn’t even have a sim rig at his Indianapolis home. His previous sim experience mainly came on the Chevrolet simulator in Huntersville, North Carolina.

“Honesty, for me personally, I’m a little late to the party,” Askew said. “I don’t think a lot of people realize that. I’m young and they assumed I’ve been doing this. I’ve never even had my own iRacing account before. Guys like (McLaren driver) Lando Norris, (Watkins Glen winner) Sage (Karam), all these guys have been streaming live on Twitch and have been running iRacing for multiple years now.

“ It’s a great way to get fans engaged in the race weekend and get eSports get bigger and bigger every year. Very interesting moving forward. It’s cool that IndyCar has dipped their feet into these waters now. Even once the season starts, I wouldn’t be surprised if we do more of these races.”

If so, he and his team have learned to keep an eye on Power, a real-world ace on road courses. During some practice races Thursday, Askew thought he’d done well by qualifying third, but Power then put a half-second on the field by winning the pole position.

“Will is unbelievably quick and does the same things in real life as well,” said Askew, who did turn the fastest lap in the practice race. “He just pulls it out somehow. That’s where the engineers and our staff in Indy come into play because they’re able to watch his on-board in real time and replay his on board to figure out what he’s doing to get the most of out of his car in the video game.

“It gets the creative juices flowing again. It’s still very different from real life, but I think we’re going to be able to start the season a little more fresh than we would have without this.”

Chris Graythen / Getty Images