Wickens, Leist, Kaiser complete Rookie Orientation at Indy

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Wickens, Leist, Kaiser complete Rookie Orientation at Indy
David Malsher
By: David Malsher
May 1, 2018, 5:10 PM

The three drivers who attempted today’s Rookie Orientation Program for the Indianapolis 500 have all passed, although a gearbox issue forced Robert Wickens to switch to teammate James Hinchcliffe’s car.

The Rookie Orientation Program [ROP] insists the drivers complete 10 laps between 205 and 210mph for Phase 1, 15 laps between 210 and 215mph for Phase 2, and 15 laps at 215mph-plus.

AJ Foyt Racing-Chevrolet’s Matheus Leist and Juncos Racing-Chevrolet’s Kyle Kaiser breezed through without issue, and eventually set best speeds of 220.073mph and 219.470mph respectively.

Wickens, however, had two issues to overcome. He almost immediately encountered a yellow flag when (appropriately) a Canada goose needed to be ushered off the grass that separates the track from pitlane.

Then, more seriously, he completed only Phase 1 – reaching 210.605mph – before his #6 Schmidt Peterson Motorsports-Honda encountered a gearbox issue that meant his team had to switch his settings to Hinchcliffe’s #5 car.

With this car, Wickens easily completed Phases 2 and 3 of ROP, eventually setting fastest speed of the morning with a 220.111mph lap.

Pietro Fittipaldi, the only other driver eligible for this morning’s session, will make his ROP runs on Tuesday, May 15, when his Dale Coyne Racing-Honda is ready.

This afternoon’s Refresher course will feature Danica Patrick (Ed Carpenter Racing), Jay Howard (Schmidt Peterson), Sage Karam (Dreyer & Reinbold Racing), although the rookies will also be able to participate.

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