At Sebring International Raceway, a handful of Honda IndyCar Series teams took to the track for the first of 2014 preseason testing.
Testing Honda’s new twin-turbocharged engine were Ryan Hunter-Reay, Graham Rahal, Carlos Munoz, Arie Luyendyk, Jr. and Simon Pagenaud. Hunter-Reay gave the engine high remarks after the first day of testing the powerplant.
“I’m very impressed with the power and delivery,” Hunter-Reay said. “We’re all happy with how we started testing. The development side of it is a lot of fun. You have an opportunity to customize and personalize and have your impact on a program. What we do right now is important, to get every bit of data out of every day, is crucial to the 2014 championship.
“All the hard work going into it will make a big difference come the season opener at St. Pete. It’s great to get back to it.”
Rahal took the #15 blu Ecigs car to the track for the first time with engineer Bill Pappas on the pit box. Pappas was hired by Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing after spending 2 years with Dale Coyne Racing on Justin Wilson’s pit box.
Rahal was equally as optimistic as Hunter-Reay about the Honda powerplant and working with Pappas.
“It was really great to be out here with Bill, [engineer] Eddie [Jones], and all of the guys to go through a list of things to test,” Rahal said in a team statement.
“…For the first time running on a road course, the twin-turbo ran awfully well. We made a lot of changes, made a lot of improvements that will help us going forward and we have some ideas for things that will help us even more.
“At the end of the day, that’s all we can ask for.”
Luyendyk, Jr., son of the 2 time Indianapolis 500 winner, testing for Dale Coyne Racing, made his first appearence in an IndyCar since the 2006 Indianapolis 500. Luyendyk made 66 starts in the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires series from 2002-10 scoring a lone win at Chicagoland Speedway in 2008 and even made a television appearance as a contestant of the season 8 running of The Bachelorette. He returned to racing driving in Robby Gordon’s Stadium Super Trucks Series this season.
Despite being out of a car for so long and never competing on a road course in an Indy Car, Luyendyk, Jr. is optimistic about competing in the 2014 season.
“I would have done it a lot sooner, but economically it was tough for a few years to raise the funds to go racing,” he said. “But now I feel like I’m in a situation where I’m very marketable and I’ve always wanted to be back in an Indy car. The goal is to run next year, hopefully a full schedule if we can find the partners, and if not I would love to be back for the Indy road course race and the ‘500.’
“I’ve never lost the passion. I’ve always stayed close to INDYCAR, driving the two-seater or being in the TV booth. When I went to Indy this year I mentally told myself I’d be back the following year. This is a good first step.”
“It’s my first opportunity with carbon brakes and paddle shifting since I did A1GP so there’s a lot to get used to because the last time I was in an open-wheel car was 2010,” he said. “Physically, it’s a lot tougher than I accounted for, but I’m learning every lap, the crew has given me a great car and it’s a great start to a relationship.”
Whether or not Luyendyk, Jr. will compete in the 2014 season is yet to be determined.