Newman/Haas Racing returns to Mid-Ohio
Telemundo driver Oriol Servia returns to compete in his seventh Indy car race here and first since 2009. James Hinchcliffe will make his Indy car debut at Mid-Ohio after having competed here three times in support races.
ORIOL AND JAMES ON THE CHALLENGES OF MID-OHIO SPORTS CAR COURSE
“Mid-Ohio is full of challenges for teams and drivers,” said Servia. “It is a very technical track. The corner layout is far from ordinary and on top of that there are a lot of elevation changes through them which makes finding the perfect line and perfect setup almost an art. It is one of those tracks that you could be trying the hardest and lap times just won’t come and later on you will be flying without even trying.”
“This is a fast, flowing natural terrain road course,” added Hinchcliffe. “It's really fun to drive an open wheel car here. With these long, fast corners and some really technical sections, it is one of the most challenging tracks on the schedule. I really like the whole track! I don't think I could pick a favorite section because each part puts up its own set of challenges.”
WHAT’S YOUR POINT(s)?
Telemundo driver Servia is ranked fifth in IZOD IndyCar Series point standings with 244 while Hinchcliffe is ranked 18th with 173 and is only 39 points behind Sunoco Rookie of the Year leader JR Hildebrand who is ranked tenth with 212. Hinchcliffe missed the season-opener and the opportunity to score points.
ORIOL ON HIS PREVIOUS TWO EVENTS AT MID-OHIO
Servia will make his seventh major open wheel start here and first since 2009 with NHR. He has competed in four CART/Champ Car races (2000-2003) and two IndyCar Series events (2008 & 2009) here to date. In 2009, he started 14th and finished 11th in his return to NHR in only his second Indy car race that season and first road course in almost a year. In 2008 he started eighth and finished fifth for KV Racing. In his rookie CART season in 2000, he started 17th and finished 10th; started 26th and finished ninth in 2001; started 12th and finished 10th in 2002 and started eighth and finished 18th in 2003 after contact with then-NHR driver Junqueira.
“In 2008 and 2009 I had a very similar level of performance,” said Servia. “I was very close to having a podium finish but as we all know, very close is not good enough and at the end there were some cars that ended up doing a better job than us. It was great to go testing at Mid-Ohio last week because in a way it felt like we were making the race weekend a day longer and so far the more we run at a track, the better we get so I hope we have made a good enough of a step forward to be a consistent front runner all weekend.”
JAMES ON HIS EXPERIENCE AT MID-OHIO AND HIS ATTEMPTED PASS FOR THE LEAD
Hinchcliffe will make his fourth start at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course and first in the headline event. He started and finished second in the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights race and started second, set the fastest race lap and finished seventh in the 2010 Indy Lights race. He also competed in the 2005 Star Mazda event where he qualified 11th and finished seventh.
“I have run two Indy Lights races and one in Star Mazda in 2005 at Mid-Ohio. I also tested some other cars here so I have a decent number of laps on the track. The last two years I have done pretty well. I qualified on the front row both times. I had a second (place) in 2009 and pitched it off trying to take the lead with three laps to go last year. Not ideal, but at least we have had the speed!”
ORIOL ON LAST WEEK’S TEST AT MID-OHIO AND GETTING SERIOUS
A large contingent of Indy car drivers tested at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last Thursday, July 28 and Servia was one of those. “The test went great,” said Servia. “We went through a lot of items that in a normal race weekend you just never have time to evaluate. It was a perfect evaluation day. Now it is time to get serious and put together all the options we think are best and unload competitive right away. (Scott) Dixon was flying but I have hope that putting all our package together will make a big difference for us.”
JAMES ON THE BENEFIT OF THE EXTRA PRACTICE FOR ROOKIES & NON TOP-10
“For sure every lap is very valuable to a rookie,” said Hinchcliffe. “Not testing here puts us behind the others and so it's a big plus for me to have extra practice time. At a track like this, you really have to take risks to get the lap time, so some extra time will allow you to get there at a reasonable pace and not force you to push too hard too soon.”
ORIOL & JAMES ON HOW COMPETITIVE THEY EXPECT THE TEAM TO BE AT MID-OHIO
“Mid-Ohio is a place that in qualifying, a couple of tenths (of a second) difference can mean a few rows back or front on the grid,” said Servia. “I know this year, with such a tight and competitive field, it will be even worse so nailing the perfect lap in qualifying will be even more key than ever.”
“It’s tough to say really!” said Hinchcliffe. “The only other proper road course we have run at this year was Barber and there are some similarities between the two. We ran well there, so hopefully that translates well to Mid Ohio. The series is just so competitive right now that we really have to push the envelope and nail the setups to stay in the top 10.”
ORIOL & JAMES ON THE TYPE OF CAR SET-UP THAT IS NECESSARY TO GO FAST AT MID-OHIO
“Well, we all know what sort of setup it takes to go fast but the question is: ‘What will it take to be the fastest!?” said Servia. “The layout has a good combination of fast and slow corners but the number one challenge is how much flow you can carry through all the twisty section.”
“Generally it’s a pretty stiff car because the track is nice and smooth,” added Hinchcliffe. “It's also a high downforce kind of place because there are so many quick corners. It's a pretty typical road course philosophy.”
BOTH ON THE ADDED PRESSURE OF BEING HIT THE PAST TWO RACES & LOSS OF POINTS/POSITIONS
“Well from the beginning of the season we have been just focusing on each session and each race at a time and that has worked well for us so I don't want to change our approach at all. It is true that in the last three races we have not been able to collect all the points that we should have but at the end of day that is the roller coaster that everybody goes through in a long championship like this one. We are still fifth in the points and if we do our jobs well we should be able to improve from here. But again, I am not obsessed with it. We will focus on doing our best and if we do we will succeed.”
“Luckily I think that in being a rookie the expectations are quite low,” said Hinchcliffe. “Obviously, within the team, based on our results this year, we have certain expectations. But every track represents a new list of firsts for me so we really go into each race with an open mind and just look to achieve a consistent, and hopefully quick, weekend. I try not to think about championship position too much.”
By: newman/haas racing