Photo by Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Marcus Ericsson rekindles his love of racing with Sebring test

Leave a comment

“I’d never seen these cars live before,” Marcus Ericsson said at earlier this week after watching some of the other cars take to the track for a test at Sebring International Raceway. “It was cool to see the other guys go out. The car looks really cool. I’ve watched a lot of clips on the internet to prepare myself for this. To be here today and also have (Team) Penske here is a perfect spot for me.”

Slightly more than a week after he climbed out of a Formula 1 following the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – a race he failed to finish after losing power on Lap 24 – Ericsson’s passion for the sport was rekindled.

“This sort of gets me back to why I fell in love with racing,” Ericsson said. “F1 is always going to be F1, you know? But it’s sort of a bit artificial in some ways. You always go to these perfect places, and that’s not racing, I would say. This takes me back to the passion of racing.”

Sebring International – run partially on airport tarmacs and partly on worn road surfaces – is far from the “perfect” purpose-built courses Ericsson has contested during the past five years.

Ericsson will run the complete schedule for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in their No. 7 Honda while remaining a reserve driver for Sauber in 2019. Last year, he finished in the points six times in 21 races while never earning a result better than ninth. He expects more from his IndyCar experience.

“I feel like I definitely have stuff that I can bring from my F1 experience to help us as a team to move forward, but I also think the team is really at a high level,” Ericsson said. “I’ve been impressed with the way they work and the preparation they do before a test with all the prep on the setup side. That’s been quite impressive.”

And while the learning curve is likely to be much steeper than he can fully appreciate, with grid sizes that are comparable and a team that is much closer to its competition than Sauber was to the F1 leaders in 2018, bettering a ninth-place finish is well within reach. Ericsson will first have to become accustomed to heavier cars with much less braking.

Last year, the team scored a victory at Iowa for James Hinchcliffe and earned 12 top fives in 33 starts.

“To the layman, this car looks similar to an F1 car, but it’s such a different animal,” said Taylor Kiel, general manager for Schmidt Peterson. “There’s no power steering, there’s way less downforce and the brakes coupled with the downforce are not as good in an Indy car. So there are a lot of things that he needs to get used to and that he’s working on doing today. So far, so good. The learning curve is going to be steep, but he’s very well-prepared mentally to attack that right now.”

Dean Wilson out for rest of Supercross season
Leave a comment

“Such a massive gut punch on Saturday,” Dean Wilson wrote on Instagram on Tuesday. “Just as I was gaining good momentum riding well, feeling good and chasing my first win things turned in the blink of an eye.”

With that post, Wilson announced that he will be out for the remainder of the Supercross season, which includes races at East Rutherford, N.J. and Las Vegas, Nev. An MRI earlier in the week revealed a shoulder injury. He also sustained damage to his kidney in a Lap 8 accident while he was running in the top 10.

Wilson’s injuries will not require surgery.

Wilson’s season began with a lot of promise. Earning the holeshot in the season-opening race at Anaheim, Wilson led for a time before narrowly missing the podium in fourth.

Two weeks later, Wilson finished fifth overall in the Triple Crown event of Anaheim II. Those are his only top-fives of the season.

“The tough part of this is I have been trying so hard this year to be back where I need to be trying to get a job for next year,” Wilson continued.

View this post on Instagram

Such a massive gut punch on Saturday. Just as I was gaining good momentum riding well, feeling good and chasing my first win things turned in the blink of an eye. Started off Denver topping free practice then went on to qualify P1 in qualifier 1. Qualifier 2 didn’t get the cleanest laps but ended with a 4th. On to the main event I was running around 7th on lap 7 moving forward and as I came around for the rhythm section I tripled in and something freak happened causing the bike to nose dive after I tripled in and pile driving me into the ground. The tough part of this is I have been trying so hard this year to be back where I need to be trying to get a job for next year. It’s tough just hoping to have a ride each year. 2nd part is people saying “wilson’s hurt again, big surprise there” when it was something that wasn’t my fault. It’s a tough pill To swallow.. I injured my shoulder and got a contusion on my kidneys. Got MRI and good news is I dodged a bullet on my shoulder and I am just going to give it a few weeks of rest and therapy and see where we are at. Huge disappointment to end my SX season like this. Thanks to my whole team for everything and everybody checking in on me. I really appreciate it. I will be back.

A post shared by D E A N O (@deanwilson15) on

Next Race: East Rutherford April. 27, on NBCSN and on NBC Sports Gold

Follow Dan Beaver on Twitter