IndyCar rookie James Hinchcliffe of Oakville was faster than veteran Oriole Servia on the second day of testing as Newman/Haas Racing wrapped up a trouble-free, two-day test at Sebring International Raceway.
Hinchcliffe, who tested for the legendary team in hopes of landing a seat for the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season that starts next March in St. Petersburg, Fla., turned a best time of 52.8 seconds around the 1.65-mile road course.
Servia's best was a 53 seconds flat lap that was run in bitterly cold and windy conditions.
“The cars ran faultlessly and we are very pleased with the pace of Oriol and James,” Brian Lisles, general manager of Newman/Haas Racing, said in a release. “We were able to get through a large part of our program despite the weather. Fifty-degree temperatures don’t sound very bad but our guys deserve accolades for working so long in near-arctic conditions. The wind was unbelievable and it was remarkably cold.”
Hinchcliffe, whose fingers are crossed that negotiations with a major Canadian corporation for a full sponsorship are successful, said he was happy with his performance.
“Today was a very successful day,” he said. “We managed to get me up to speed pretty quickly and got to the point where I was comfortable enough in the car that we could start doing some setup changes and some development work for the team. It was a huge and successful day in that respect.
"I’m very happy that it didn’t take two days to get up to a reasonable pace and that I was actually able to help the team with their test plans. I’m very grateful to Newman/Haas for the opportunity. It’s a great car to drive; a lot of fun. It really lets you push and hustle and I think it’s certainly something I’m looking to get back into in the future.
"It was great working with my engineer Bruno, and Oriol as well. He was a huge help over the two days. I can’t thank both of those guys enough, and the whole team for the chance.”
Servia, as are many others, was highly complimentary of Hinchcliffe's sense of humour.
“It was as much fun, or more than I expected, to work with James," the Spanish driver said. "He’s as funny as he comes across on Twitter and obviously he can peddle too. He was on a little different program but it showed how fast he can be. I’m hoping to work with him and the team in the future."
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season-opening Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg will take place March 25-27. Newman-Haas Racing won this event two years ago with Graham Rahal driving.
The series, which includes the 100th anniversary of the Indianapolis 500, returns to the streets of Toronto next July.