Matheus Leist, the 2016 BRDC British F3 Champion, set the quickest time in the IndyCar rookie test at the ISM Raceway at Phoenix on Thursday.
Leist, who this year steps up to IndyCar from Indy Lights, narrowly pipped 2013 BRDC F4 contender Pietro Fittipaldi to the quickest time yesterday. Both drivers are making their IndyCar debuts in 2018 with Leist racing for ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing, and Fittipaldi signing up for selected events this week with Dale Coyne Racing. Leist’s time saw him reach an average speed of 184.236mph around the 1.022-mile oval and he was the only driver to complete a lap in less than 20 seconds.
“It felt pretty fast, to be honest, my first on an oval in an IndyCar,” Leist told IndyCar.com. “I’ve done a few races in Indy Lights, which was pretty good for me, and now stepping in the big cars – new cars as well with the aero kit. Each time I hit the track I’m feeling more comfortable in the cockpit, with the tyres and everything. First impressions were pretty good, it was my first practice here also, so just having some fun and learning which the best lines to run are.”
Fittipaldi, a race winner in BRDC F4 in 2013 before going on to race in Formula Renault, European F3 and winning the World Series Formula V8 3.5 title in 2017, was less than one mph slower than Leist on his first single seater run on an oval. He commented: “It was really good. It was mostly about getting up to speed and getting used to the ovals. The walls come up really fast, I enjoyed working with the team. We had some good pace at the end, but at the end of the day it was about finding the limit on new tyres and that’s what we’re going to carry into tomorrow.”
Both drivers are back in testing action today and tomorrow (Friday and Saturday) where they will be joined by the full IndyCar field.
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