Verizon IndyCar Series private testing began last week at Sebring International Raceway, and today marks the start of testing ahead of the 2016 Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season. A field of 11 cars, not including Team Pelfrey or other projected further entrants, is set to test at the Homestead-Miami Speedway today and tomorrow.
The full series release is below:
Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires will kick off its first official series test of the year on the 2.21-mile, 14-turn Homestead-Miami Speedway road course this Tuesday and Wednesday. A mix of returning veterans and series’ newcomers will make up the 11-car field as teams continue to formulate plans for the 2016 season.
A podium finisher in 2015, Shelby Blackstock returns to Andretti Autosport and will have the benefit of a teammate this year as Canadian Dalton Kellett will take the next step on the Mazda Road to Indy ladder after two seasons of Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires competition. Kellett, who also spent two years in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda, is a recent graduate of Queen’s University in Ontario with a degree in Engineering Physics. He made his Indy Lights debut in a one-off race at Baltimore in 2013.
Belardi Auto Racing, which guided Gabby Chaves to the 2014 championship crown, will field a pair of entries for Zach Veach and Felix Rosenqvist. Veach will be contesting his third year of Indy Lights after finishing third in the hotly contested 2014 championship. Newcomer Rosenqvist of Sweden is the reigning FIA F3 European Champion and two-time winner of the prestigious Macau Grand Prix. Rosenqvist also tested with Team Pelfrey in December.
Confirmed drivers Ed Jones and Felix Serralles will be behind the wheel of the Carlin Mazda-powered Dallaras and will be joined by Neil Alberico, who was just announced as the third driver for the squad. Like Kellett, Alberico is a veteran of the Mazda Road to Indy contesting two seasons in USF2000 and Pro Mazda where he finished second in the championship last year. Jones and Serralles both enter their sophomore seasons with race wins in 2015.
Kyle Kaiser will return to the Juncos Racing squad – which captured the 2015 driver’s championship with Spencer Pigot – for his sophomore season and will be joined by newcomer Zachary Claman De Melo, who was announced in December. A multiple podium finisher in his rookie season, Kaiser secured a sixth-place finish in the final standings. De Melo, of Montreal, most recently contested rounds of Formula Renault 2.0 Alps, Eurocup and NEC competition.
Reigning team champions Schmidt Peterson with Curb-Agajanian will have RC Enerson back in the saddle for his second season as the team also tests 2015 Pro Mazda champion Santiago “Santi” Urrutia, who earned a scholarship from Mazda to advance to Indy Lights. Enerson’s rookie season with the team netted a win and four additional podiums en route to a fourth-place finish in the championship. Urrutia’s impressive racing debut in America included three wins, 10 total podiums and 14 top-five drives.
Two test sessions will be run each day from 9:00 am – 12:00 pm and 1:00 pm – 5:00 pm EST. Live timing will be available on the series website at http://indylights.com/results/live-timing.
Upcoming series tests also include Phoenix International Raceway on February 25 and Barber Motorsports Park on March 5.
The expanded 2016 18-race schedule will kick on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., on March 11-13 with all three levels of the Mazda Road to Indy in action in support of the Verizon IndyCar Series season-opener.