LEXINGTON, Ohio – Katherine Legge stood in a corner of the Dragon Racing garage, watching the crew prepare the No. 7 TrueCar car for the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio and waiting for a break in the thunderstorm to keep a breakfast reservation.
It was a metaphor for the 31-year-old Brit’s first IZOD IndyCar Series season.
After competing in the first five races (the initial four with a Lotus engine before Dragon Racing switched to Chevrolet in mid-May), she has shared the car and its Chevrolet 2.2-liter, twin turbocharged V6 engine with Sebastien Bourdais. He’s driven in the four road/street course races since the Indianapolis 500 on May 27. She’s driven in the three oval races since competing in her first 500 Mile Race.
Thanks to Chevrolet providing a second engine to the team for the GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 24-26, Legge will compete in her first road course race since Brazil in late April. She’ll join 22 others in testing at the recently reconfigured circuit Aug. 17, and with the addition of Legge and Sebastian Saavedra in an AFS/Andretti Autosport entry the field will swell to 27.
“We’re hugely grateful to Chevrolet for stepping up at Indy and now giving us two engines for Sonoma,” said Legge, who has a best finish of 15th (Texas, Iowa) in her eight races. “We’d be in a pretty dire situation without their help.
“I’m just trying to learn as much as I can from outside the car and support the team. It’s an exercise in patience because I’d much rather be driving. But you have to make the best of the situation and that’s what we’re all trying to do.”
Legge did a few laps at Sonoma during testing July 12, though Bourdais “spent the day testing and setting the car up,” she said. The upcoming day on the course (open to the public and free) will be her first full test since Sebring International in early March.
“I’ll be able to make some improvements and adjustments on the car myself and learn the track,” said Legge, who's also scheduled to compete in the season finale Sept. 15 at Auto Club Speedway. “I’ve been training hard because (Sonoma) is a physical place. When you’re in the car (regularly), you keep fit by driving in addition to working out. I’m very excited.”
Modifications to the course include:
• The entrance to Turn 11 will be extended 200 feet before drivers encounter the hairpin. This will give drivers more space to out-brake each other and set up a passing opportunity before the right-hand Turn 12. The geometry of the modified Turn 11 will mirror the shorter turn used for the IZOD IndyCar Series in previous years.
• The exit of Turn 9 (aka The Bus Stop) will be widened by 10 feet to 50 feet on drivers’ left.
• At Turn 7, instead of the looping right-hander where drivers could maintain speed, they will now encounter a hairpin similar to Turn 11.
The modifications will make the IZOD IndyCar Series circuit 2.31 miles (it had been 2.303 miles) and 12 turns. The race distance will increase from 75 to 85 laps.
“I am extremely grateful to Chevrolet for making this second engine available so we can return to a full team effort in Sonoma,” Dragon Racing owner Jay Penske said. “When we began the season in St. Pete it was our plan to run a full season with both the Nos. 6 and 7 TrueCar Dragon Racing entries, but due to circumstances beyond our control we had to reduce the effort to one car with the driving duties being shared among Katherine and Sebastien.
"With the team back to full strength, we are all really looking forward to competing in Sonoma, the home track for our sponsors and partners, McAfee, Microsoft, and TrueCar.”