‘It was a lot to learn’: Indy duo’s steady start

  • Virgin Australia Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 10/10/2019
  • By Stefan Bartholomaeus

IndyCar stars Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe have 'a lot to sleep on’ after ending the opening day of Bathurst practice at the bottom of the order.

Unlike several of their rivals, the Walkinshaw Andretti United duo enjoyed a clean day of running, logging a total 57 laps through the three 60-minute sessions.

They were 26th in Practice 1, with Rossi’s best of 2:09.2497s some 4.6s from the ultimate pace.

Hinchliffe ran a 2:07.7217s best in the co-driver session, just 2s from the fastest time, to be 24th.

Rossi’s then ended the day in 24th and last of those to run in Practice 3, recording 2:07.2281s; 3.5s down on Scott McLaughlin’s record effort.

“It was an ok first day - it was a lot to learn,” said Rossi, who won the 2016 Indianapolis 500 with Andretti Autosport.

“What we keep reminding ourselves is not only is this a new track for us, but it’s a car that we’re not completely comfortable with either.

“We’re trying to figure out all of those things at once, around a place that doesn’t have a margin for error. It’s quite challenging but the team has been super helpful.

“James and I have both improved significantly each session and we’ll just have to keep chipping away at it tomorrow.”

Hinchcliffe had described Practice 1 as a “baptism of fire”, joking the experience was “kind of like drinking out of a fire hose”.

The duo arrived at Bathurst after just a single test at Winton, which was shortened from three days to two thanks to a crash for Rossi.

“The goal today was to get as many laps in as possible and learn as much as possible, and I think we did that,” Hinchcliffe said after Practice 3.

“Everybody at Walkinshaw Andretti United did a great job getting Alex and I up to speed and as prepared as possible, but at the end of the day until you turn laps, it’s all just words and lines on paper.

“I think both us of will have a lot to sleep on tonight.

“The cars are incredibly different from what we’re used to; the track is an immense challenge and trying to learn both things simultaneously is a big ask.

“But everyone on the NAPA Auto Parts Australia program is fully committed to the cause and we’re looking forward to seeing how we can improve ourselves overnight.”

The WAU duo fared better than their fellow wildcard from Kostecki Brothers Racing, which did not make it out for Practice 3 after a crash for Jake Kostecki in the co-driver session.

KBR is expected to return for Practice 4 on Friday morning, while Penrite Racing has targeted a qualifying comeback for its Commodore, also damaged in the co-driver session.

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