IndyCar stars positive despite challenging Bathurst baptism
IndyCar regulars Alexander Rossi and James Hinchcliffe are "chipping away" at the daunting Mount Panorama circuit, after ending Thursday practice for the Bathurst 1000 at the foot of the times.
It was a challenging opening day for the Walkinshaw Andretti United-run wildcard entry, the car at the bottom of the times in two of the three sessions.
Rossi and Hinchcliffe started the day 4.5s off the ultimate pace and 1.2s behind the next-best car in Practice 1, that gap coming down to 3.4s and a tenth off Tekno driver Jack Le Brocq in the final session.
In between the two open sessions Hinchcliffe was just 2s off the pace in the all-co-driver practice, even edging Super2 regular Jack Smith.
The lack of heroics isn't concerning Hinchcliffe just yet, though, the Canadian happy to be patient given the 'immense challenge' of learning a new car and new track at the same time.
“The goal today was to get as many laps in as possible and learn as much as possible, and I think we did that," said Hinchcliffe.
"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 programme is fully committed to the cause and we’re looking forward to seeing how we can improve ourselves overnight.”
Rossi agreed that the fast, concrete-lined circuit is a difficult place to learn a new car, but that the crew will continue "chipping away" when practice resumes tomorrow.
"It was an okay first day – it was a lot to learn," he said.
"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."
Bathurst 1000: McLaughlin lowers Mount Panorama lap record
Slade no certainty to stay at BJR for 2020