Chadwick encouraged after first Indy Lights test


 Jamie Chadwick’s first run in an Indy Lights car with Andretti Autosport was met with positive takes by the two-time W Series champion, and Andretti’s 2021 Indy Lights title winner Kyle Kirkwood.

The Briton logged 210 miles of learning in the 450hp turbocharged four-cylinder Dallara IL15 chassis around Sebring International Raceway’s outer loop on Wednesday, and after catching a flight home and having some time to think about the experience, Chadwick was filled with encouragement.

“I was happy with how it went, not really knowing what to expect as such, but just wanting to experience as much as I could, and to get to know the team as best as possible, learn the car, understand what Indy Lights is all about,” she told RACER. “For that side of things, I got a good feeling for the car and I understand where I need to work, where I need to improve. I also felt like I had a really good rapport with the team, which fills me with good confidence going forward.”

Benchmarking Chadwick’s performance was a challenge due to her being the only driver on track. Another significant obstacle in that regard comes from the track itself. Wild swings in temperature and humidity at the Floridian road course, and variances in the rubber being applied to the circuit with multiple cars in motion — or the inverse, with a lackof grip during a single-car test — makes comparing Chadwick’s unofficial best lap of 56.950s all but impossible to compare to lap times turned earlier in the year.

In the absence of other drivers, Kirkwood, who returns to Andretti Autosport to take over Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Honda IndyCar in 2023, assessed Chadwick’s output.

“I thought she did really well,” said Kirkwood, who dominated his Lights season as the winner of 10 races from 20 rounds. “She got to grips with the car a lot faster than I think most people do, and after her first run, she was quicker than me from my first-ever run in a Lights car. She had very similar comments about setup, and she did over 120 laps, and physically, she seemed to be in a good place because this place can beat you up, especially first time driving with the bumps.

“The thing I was worried about going into the test was, to be honest, not being able to turn the steering wheel, and it being too physical for me and the level that I was at, but actually, that wasn’t the case,” she said. “It’s definitely physical. I’ve definitely got to get a lot stronger. The Indy Lights races are very long. We didn’t do any really long runs over the day, but we did do a lot of laps. And I think that’s really encouraging that I was able to drive the car at a level that I was physically happy with.”

Andretti Autosport president J-F Thormann, the longtime leader of the team’s junior open-wheel programs, has expressed his desire for Chadwick to join the Indy Lights program next season. And so do her growing legion of fans, both international and domestic, as she learned after seeing numerous social media posts from those who want to see her on the Road to Indy.

“It’s really cool, and something that I’m really surprised by,” she admitted. “I didn’t think that the test would get the reaction it got. From everything that I’ve spoken to people about and seen, it’s been really positive. And I think the Indy Lights series and the Road to Indy package is really, really popular. It has an amazing fan base. So to have that crossover, potentially, with some of the people that support me, it’s great. It’s something I think could be quite exciting.”

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