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Meanwhile, in the Airport…

December 20, 2010

The joys of waiting in airports... © Leigh O'Gorman

Airports can be quite monotonous places.

They are often drab and featureless, clean and lacking in personality – an emblem to modern efficiency and business.

I write this, not because I have any huge issues with airports per sé, but rather because I have been stuck in one for a few hours and am looking at further delays due to snow and extremely cold conditions.
These delays have, however, given me time to think.

The past few days has seen various droppings of news, chiefly from the IZOD IndyCar Series.
In one week, the Series has been bolstered by the signings of JR Hildebrand to Panther Racing (replacing Briton Dan Wheldon) and the formation of a second Chip Ganassi team, in order to house Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball.
Hildebrand has shown himself to be a solid competitor, having taken the 2009 Indy Lights crown and taken part in two races this season. While the results were hardly startling, it was quite clear that the pace was there; however Hildebrand at times found himself short on luck and on the receiving end of some charmless punts from fellow competitors. He will be a good addition to the series.

Admittedly, I have poured occasional criticism on Rahal in the past year. During the 2009-10 off-season, complaints about the lack of American drivers in the IndyCar series became annoying, but thankfully the young man has worked hard behind the scenes to get sponsors on his side. Rahal, who will be 22 in January, has shown some great maturity throughout this year and it is fitting to see finally him obtain stability with Ganassi.
However, now the pressure is on and Rahal must perform and make good with his talent – there have been times when he has been asleep at the wheel, while occasionally showing flashes of brilliance. If he can turn this brilliance on more consistently, he will be an IndyCar star of the future.
Kimball is also an interesting prospect. He was diagnosed with diabetes in 2007 during his World Series by Renault campaign and after some time away from the wheel, he returned to racing. His condition is now somewhat under control and his treatment allows him to race with little worry. That his main backer is the drug company, Novo Nordisk, is also a help, as they are the suppliers for his medication.

Another announcement came earlier today in the shape of Tony Kanaan’s confirmation at de Ferran / Dragon Racing. Hewlett Packard will be backing the Brazilian, as he takes to the one-car team in place of Raphael Matos.
This will add Matos to the list of drivers looking for a seat for the coming season, as the Brazilian has yet to conform plans for the coming season.
Other drivers waiting to be confirmed somewhere include Takuma Sato, Mario Moraes and EJ Viso, although at least one of them may end up piloting the KV Lotus entry. It is also unlikely that Hideki Mutoh will be returning to the Newman-Haas fold.
Speaking of Newman-Haas, last week saw Oriol Servia and James Hinchcliffe testing for the famous squad. The pair seemed to run well together and the team are reportedly looking to secure funding for a two-car effort rather than the single-car it ran this year.

There does appear to be some good news for the Indy Lights Championship. While the car count may be lower than last year, at least one of those drivers will be the Argentine, Esteban Guerrieri.
The 25-year-old is a quick little driver, but has been plagued by next to no backing for his entire career. Having won the Formula Renault Argentina title in 2000 and the Formula Renault Eurocup in 2003, Guerrieri has suffered something of a stuttered career, with numerous partial programs, yet he has shown himself to be race winner in many different formulae.
Guerrieri came good this year with a stellar challenge for the World Series by Renault title, ending 15 points (one race win) shy of eventual champion Mikhail Aleshin, despite missing three races and being disqualified from another.
Whereas the Formula One world may have passed him by, Guerrieri will be looking to make a name for himself in the US; in the same way a young penniless Tony Kanaan did nearly 15 years previously.

From → INDYCAR

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