A large portion of the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires grid continued its preparation for the 2022 season with testing Dec. 7-8 on the short course at Sebring (Florida) International Raceway.
Thirteen drivers turned laps on the iconic Florida circuit, and while no times and speeds were released, here’s what we know about the test from various reports:
Stinging with speed: Second-year Lights driver Sting Ray Robb settled nicely into his new home at Andretti Autosport, leading the second day of testing Dec. 8 by a tenth of a second over his next-closest pursuer, fellow sophomore Lights driver Danial Frost of HMD Motorsports.
2020 Indy Pro 2000 Championship title winner Robb finished eighth in the standings during his first Indy Lights season in 2021, with a best result of fifth. Expectations are higher with the powerful Andretti team, and Robb appears to be ready to deliver.
Clash of titans, redux?: Andretti Autosport and HMD Motorsports dueled for the Indy Lights championship all season in 2021, with Kyle Kirkwood of Andretti edging David Malukas of HMD for the title.
If testing is any indication, it looks like that power struggle will continue in 2022. The two powerhouse teams split the top four spots on the time sheet Dec. 8, with Robb and Hunter McElrea of Andretti taking the first and fourth positions, respectively, and Frost and Benjamin Pedersen of HMD and Global Racing Group with HMD second and third, respectively.
The gap between those top four Wednesday? Less than two-tenths of a second. Buckle up!
Matty Brabs is back: 2016 Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge veteran Matthew Brabham hopes to revive his open-wheel career in 2022 by returning to Indy Lights, where he raced in 2014 and 2015 for Andretti Autosport after winning the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship in 2012 and the Indy Pro 2000 Presented by Cooper Tires title in 2013.
Brabham, grandson of three-time Formula One World Champion Jack Brabham, was off to a solid start Dec. 8 in Sebring testing. He ended up fifth overall in a car prepared by Andretti Autosport, just two-tenths of a second behind leader Robb.
Fastest freshman: Hunter McElrea was quickest Dec. 8 among the drivers testing who will make their Indy Lights debut in 2022.
New Zealand native McElrea, who finished third in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship, was fourth on the speed charts for Andretti Autosport Wednesday. More impressively, he was less than two-tenths of a second behind leader and teammate Robb.
Super Simpson: Kyffin Simpson, only 17, is barely old enough to have a passenger car driver’s license in the United States, but he produced an impressive performance at Sebring.
Cayman Islands resident Simpson ended up seventh overall for the new TJ Speed Motorsports team, less than three-tenths of a second behind leader Robb.
Simpson ran part time in Indy Pro 2000 last season for Juncos Racing, with three podium finishes in 16 starts.
Tight confines: The Indy Lights field in 2022 looks to be tight and deep, if testing is any indication. Less than a half-second separated the top 10 drivers overall on the speed chart Dec. 8.