Team Penske’s three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves says he’s “already having so much fun” testing the Olsbergs MSE rallycross car in Norway, just a week after teammate Josef Newgarden’s debut in the RallyX on Ice series.
Castroneves, whose full-time IndyCar career ended with 30 wins and 51 poles to his name, but who will return for this year’s Indy Grand Prix and Indy 500, is racing one of the Penske-Acuras in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship in 2018. But like Newgarden last week, the Brazilian ace has traveled to Norway to try his hand in rallycross on ice.
After initial testing, Castroneves commented: “I can’t stop smiling! First of all, it’s an awesome opportunity to do something that I never, ever thought I would do – not only driving a rallycross car, but doing so in the snow! I’m very thankful to Andreas [Eriksson, the CEO of Olsbergs MSE] for inviting me.
“Man, it’s cold outside, but I’m already having so much fun. Everybody has been helping me out and giving me tips on how to go sideways; if you want to turn left, you actually have to turn right – everything is the opposite! Also, every time you brake, the car slides all over the place. It’s a lot of fun, so let’s see what’s going to happen...”
After encountering the Gol track, Castroneves was left impressed with the regular contenders, commenting: “The track changes constantly as more cars pass by; that makes it a never-ending challenge, but a really enjoyable one.
“Every lap is different, which is why these drivers are so incredibly talented – you’ve got to be ready no matter what. The good news is, if you crash, you’re only going to hit a snow bank, so it doesn’t create any damage...
Castroneves said that Newgarden’s ‘advice’ was restricted to a text that read, “You’re going to suffer in the cold weather, and that he’d received tips from Austin Cindric.
But he added: “Even when somebody tells you something, you don’t truly appreciate the difference until you actually get out there and start driving. If you have the desire to drive one of these cars in the snow, I can tell you, it’s absolutely incredible! I can’t wipe the smile off my face! I can’t wait to see what it’s like with all the other guys on-track too and the crowd watching on. That’ll be even more fun.
Asked about his targets for the weekend, Castroneves replied: “I’m a little bit – and when I say a little bit, I mean a lot – out of my comfort zone here. This is my first time ever driving a rallycross car, and not only that but in the snow, so my expectation is to hopefully stay with the pack and not end up in a snow bank!
“If you get a good start, you can see clearly in front of you. That’s something else – people don’t realize that when you’re behind in this series, you can’t see a thing.
“The goal is to try to stay with the other guys and learn as much as I can and hopefully, I won’t do that badly...
The race action will be streamed live here on Motorsport.com from 7am ET.
See video below to watch Josef Newgarden’s reaction to his first RallyX on Ice experience at Ål.