IRL: Indy 500: Vitor Meira rookie test notes

Meira sets fastest lap and passes rookie test at Indy. INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 21, 2003) -- Vitor Meira didn't just pass the Rookie Orientation Program for the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 - he mastered it. Meira easily completed all...

Meira sets fastest lap and passes rookie test at Indy.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 21, 2003) -- Vitor Meira didn't just pass the Rookie Orientation Program for the 87th running of the Indianapolis 500 - he mastered it.

Meira easily completed all four phases of the rookie exam Monday, recording the fastest lap of the day and then clicking off a lap at more than 225 mph in post-ROP testing.

Meira, a 26-year-old Brazilian, went as fast as 223.827 mph in the Team Menard No. 2 Chevrolet/Dallara during the final phase of orientation. Upon completion of the fourth phase, in which drivers must run 10 consecutive laps over 215 mph, Meira was clocked at 225.461 mph during further testing. It was the fastest lap Monday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

In spite of his accomplishments in IRL IndyCar Series events last year - including a pole position and third-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway - Meira was happy to complete the tradition rookie test at Indy.

"You're not just risking equipment and work when you race here; you're risking lives," Meira said. "Taking a step back and doing things slowly is always better. Everyone goes through the rookie test. I was just glad that I passed it so quickly."

The Indianapolis 500 will be Meira's first race of the 2003 season. He has served as a test driver for Team Menard through the first three races of the season. At Indy, though, he'll be a full-fledged teammate of fellow Team Menard driver Jaques Lazier.

"It's like being a athlete and suddenly being out of the gym," Meira said. "We train physically to keep the concentration, but if you don't drive, you miss the speed. You lose the speed, which is the main thing for a driver."

Meira was exempt from the first two phases of the program, in which drivers are required to maintain pre-determined levels of speed for 10 consecutive laps while showing consistent car control.

Brian Barnhart, senior vice president of the Indy Racing League, decides whether a driver has completed after consulting with IRL director of special projects Johnny Rutherford and IRL driving coach Al Unser.

One of the founding teams of the IRL IndyCar Series, Team Menard has two championships, 10 wins and an all-time record of 24 pole positions to its credit. Owned by John Menard, the Indianapolis-based team is supported by Menards, Johns Manville, Chevrolet, Menard Engine Group, Dallara, Firestone and Menard Cheever Technologies. For more information visit www.teammenard.com.

-tm-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Jaques Lazier  , Brian Barnhart , Johnny Rutherford , Al Unser , Vitor Meira