SEBRING, Fla. – Wet conditions forced postponement of the final Verizon IndyCar Series private team test of 2016.
The two-team test at Sebring International Raceway – the last of the year before a month-long moratorium on testing – was called off shortly before 11 a.m. ET today. Chip Ganassi Racing was set up and ready to join Dale Coyne Racing on Sebring’s short permanent road course, but the teams called off the single-day test and vowed to return next month, although a specific date was not immediately chosen.
For CGR, a chance to work out its new Honda engines and aero kits was lost for its four drivers – Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Charlie Kimball and Max Chilton. The team announced earlier in the week that Chilton would return for a second year in the No. 8 Gallagher-sponsored car.
“It’s so disappointing when you come to the racetrack and you’re unable to run,” said Mike Hull, managing director at CGR (pictured above). “You’re being tugged by the fact the racetrack is sitting there and you know sooner or later it’s going to be dry. But I think you have to weigh all the alternatives, and in this case you can’t buy more test days. They only give you so many. … It will be worthwhile to do what we’re doing today.”
DCR was prepared to debut rookie Ed Jones – the 2016 Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires champion – and veteran Sebastien Bourdais, who joined the team from KVSH Racing shortly after the end of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season.
Before the postponement, Dixon’s car was seen in the paddock without the familiar Target bullseye, the result of the company’s previously announced decision to step away from Indy car sponsorship after 27 years. Instead, the No. 9 Honda appeared in plain white without a primary sponsor. Hull said the team will wait until later to reveal the new backing.
While conditions improved through the course of the day, losing the early hours to rain led the teams to the decision to postpone instead of having a portion of a day count as a full day against their testing limit.
"We looked at the situation and found out we can come back here in early January with another INDYCAR team,” Hull said. “We’re going to roll the dice on the weather in Florida and see if we can get in eight hours of running then.”
The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series season begins with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg weekend March 10-12.