James Hinchcliffe of Oakville continued to turn heads at the IZOD IndyCar Series pre-season test in Alabama on Tuesday while another young Canadian speedster, Robert Wickens of Guelph and Toronto, topped the speed charts at a World Series by Renault test in Europe.
You’ll recall that Hinchliffe, the 24-year-old Firestone Indy Lights championship runner-up in 2010, finished fifth out of 24 drivers to turn time during the first day of the test at Barber Motorsports Park on Monday.
Well, Tuesday, he slipped just a bit – to seventh overall – but still acquitted himself well. His time of one minute, 12:520 seconds translated into an average speed of 114.175 miles an hour, which was far from shabby.
"Hinch" has consistently been the fastest rookie at the test.
The fastest of them all Tuesday was Penske Racing’s Helio Castroneves, whose best lap was 1 minute, 11.943 seconds (115.090 mph). Will Power of Team Penske, who led the first day of the test, was second-quickest with a lap of 1:11.963. Target Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon was third at 1:12.281.
Other notables: Defending series champion Dario Franchitti was 11th fastest, Canadian Alex Tagliani finished 12th, Danica Patrick was 13th, Simona de Silvestro was 18th, Sebstien Bourdais was 19th (I’m starting to wonder whether his decision to make a comeback with Dale Coyne Racing was wise) and Ana Beatriz was 23rd.
The 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series season opens with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 27.
Hinchcliffe talked afterward as if he’s a lock to start the season with Newman-Haas but there still has been no sponsorship announcement.
In Europe, the 21-year-old Wickens was reportedly "flying" during a test at Barcelona and was the fastest driver during Day 1 of the Formula Renault test.
It rained all day but Wickens still ended up more than a second ahead of his Carlin Motorsports teammate, Red Bull British F3 champion Jean-Eric Vergne, who was sixth fastest overall.
Paul Tracy, meantime, is still waiting, apparently, for any word on 2011.