By Patrick Stephan of <a href=”http://www.tracksideonline.com” target=”_blank”>TrackSideOnline.com</a> presented by <a href=”http://hpd.honda.com/” target=”_blank”>Honda Racing/HPD</a>
Couple notes as the Indy Lights cars get ready to go out for their only practice session of the day. Qualifying here will run at 12:55PT this afternoon.
Walking through the Lights paddock last night, we saw the repairs being made to Ethan Ringel car, and it is ready to go this morning. Oh, but first, just finding the Lights paddock is tough here. It’s located inside the arena here at the Long Beach convention center, next to the giant hamster balls and bouncy houses for the kids. Ok, not a glamour area, but it is air conditioned and a pretty good work environment. A little quiet though.
One interesting thing to us is always watching the mechanical work on these formula open wheel cars, particularly where the engine is a stressed member of the chassis – meaning there is no actual frame for the engine. To show this, we got lucky and found a car getting a gear change yesterday. That requires taking off the rear bell-housing, to expose the gear stack.
And here is the Mazda engine bolted to the back of the driver safety cell, more commonly called the “tub”. The interesting thing here is how small that engine is and all the power it can make despite that.
In today’s Lights practice session, we saw Ringel return to action. He was able to run 14 laps, with his best coming on lap 13. That was after he had actually stopped in a run off area for a bit, but was then able to get the car restarted and back in the action.
RC Enerson also wound up stopped out on the circuit, but he too had gotten off the track in to a safe spot, so he had to watch for the last 7 or so minutes of the session.
Ed Jones led most of the session, but Spencer Pigot bested him on new tires at the end of the session by .2128 seconds. Kyle Kaiser was third, followed by Jack Harvey and then Max Chilton who led yesterday’s practice with a 01:14.1813. Clearly the track is getting quicker. Not sure if Chilton and Jones went to new tires, tend to think Jones did not as his quick lap was 12 of 19.
And a quick note from the Verizon IndyCar Series. 2011 Long Beach Indy Lights race winner Conor Daly has jumped in to the #18 car from Dale Coyne Racing. Rocky Moran, Jr., had replaced Carlos Huertas for Friday (Huertas has sponsorship issues), but then Moran and Carlos Munoz had contact going in to turn 1. That contact injured Moran’s thumb, which was found to be broken this morning. Conor was here, he has a seat ready to go for these cars and he tested for Schmidt in February – so he’s in now!