IRL: Wim Eyckmans First To Pass Indy 500 Rookie test

EYCKMANS FIRST TO PASS INDY ROOKIE TEST Team Cheever's new rookie shows he's got the stuff as he completes orientation in record time Indianapolis, IN - Team Cheever rookie, Wim Eyckmans, became the first rookie to pass all four phases of...

EYCKMANS FIRST TO PASS INDY ROOKIE TEST Team Cheever's new rookie shows he's got the stuff as he completes orientation in record time

Indianapolis, IN - Team Cheever rookie, Wim Eyckmans, became the first rookie to pass all four phases of today's Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program. In less than two and one half-hours, Eyckmans was able to complete the test and post the fastest lap of the morning session at 213.457 m.p.h. This was Eyckmans first time driving an Indy Racing League car on the historic 2.5-mile oval.

"It is a wonderful relief to have this phase under my belt," said an excited Eyckmans. "This place is intimidating enough with all its history, but it was especially difficult in the beginning of the day when I was getting used to a new track, a new car and a new team. Eddie, Owen, Dane and the crew made it all come together so quickly for me!"

"I am very impressed with Wim. He told me he was a quick study and this morning's test is proof of that," said Eddie Cheever, Jr., Team Cheever owner and reigning Indy 500 winner. "We started at 9:20am and by 12 noon we were putting the car back in the garage."

It is not only the Brickyard that is new to Wim. A Karting Champion several times over and a F3000 upstart, Eyckmans expertise is road racing the winding circuits of Europe. It would be adventure enough to take on lesser American ovals, but in a style typical of Eyckmans racing history, Wim chose to make his debut at the largest sporting event in the world, the 83rd running of the Indianapolis 500.

"To be successful on any oval, you must be smooth with both the throttle and the steering. You must be able to drive the same line lap after lap," explained two-time winning Indy 500 Chief Mechanic, Owen Snyder III. "Wim was right on it. He made this test short, sweet and to the point!"

"The hardest thing for a road racer is learning to control his speed with the throttle not the brakes," further explained Cheever. 'Wim has a very good presence of where he is on the track and how to maximize it."

Eyckmans is hoping to follow Team Cheever's own history of fielding successful young rookie drivers with their #52 Team Cheever Dallara stallion. In 1997, Jeff Ward took the helm of the #52 machine and brought home the Indy 500 Rookie of The Year race honors to the team while , in 1998, Robby Unser continued the tradition claiming the overall Rookie of the Year honors for the series.

"I wanted to drive with this team because of Eddie's background as well as this team's knowledge of how to win this very special race," explained Eyckmans. "Eddie understands what it is like to no longer be able to use trees and houses as benchmarks and to be confronted with an endless white concrete wall. Owen explains everything so clearly and calmly that he builds up your confidence, relaxing you so that you concentrate on the job at hand. It feels very good to be here."

Wim Eyckmans' primary sponsor, E.G.P., based in Brussels, was founded in 1997 and, after several years of testing, has introduced a line of environmentally safe cleaning products for the home and business arenas.

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Series IndyCar
Drivers Eddie Cheever , Jeff Ward , Wim Eyckmans , Robby Unser