Houston turned out to be a tough race, with Jan Heylen struggling with brake problems all weekend. Riddled with difficulties, he wasn't able to turn many laps in qualifying or testing. Being a new track, Houston was tough race for every team. It...
Houston turned out to be a tough race, with Jan Heylen struggling with brake problems all weekend. Riddled with difficulties, he wasn't able to turn many laps in qualifying or testing.
Being a new track, Houston was tough race for every team. It also meant that everyone was equal, as none of the drivers had the advantage of past experience with the track. This allowed for Jan to show his true skill in competing with the worlds best. In the first practice run, he was 10th fastest of the group, outpacing team mate Christiano Da Matta. Early on the practice, however, problems with the brakes cut the testing short, and put Jan back in the pit, for the first time.
During the 15 minute warm-up for the first qualifying, the braking issues arose once again, forcing Jan to retire from practice early. Unable to solve the worsening brake conditions in the short period between warm-up and qualifying, Jan was incapable of doing a single qualifying lap.
Overnight, the team tried everything to solve the brake problems. Unfortunately for Jan, the car was not capable of completing the second free practice. Frustrated and exhausted, he had no choice but to enter the second qualifying with a fraction of the laps compared to the other drivers.
Second Qualifying was a blind run, as far as set-up was concerned. The car was a handful to drive, being very unpredictable on the soft compound qualifying tires. Going in one of the corners, the rear end became very unstable, where the rear tire brushed one of the walls. Sadly, it occurred before he was able to turn a competitive qualifying lap.
As the race ensued, Jan was forced to start from the back of the pack. Thinking that the brake problems were solved, he figured he still had a shot with a top ten finish. Nevertheless, 7 laps later the brakes failed once more, causing Jan to pit early. Finishing the race didn't seem like an option, but the Dale Coyne team did a good job getting the car back on track. This allowed Jan to complete the race, but at a slower pace to save the brakes. As if his problems weren't enough, Pastorelli ran into the back of Jan, spinning them both through turn one.
Jan left the track with a positive attitude, saying that things can only get better in the next race in Monterrey.