(Our passionate IndyCar writer – and last week’s round winner in our F1 Tipping Competition – Matt Lennon writes his exclusive previous for the upcoming , scheduled for this weekend. With Australia’s Will Power taking victory in the opening two rounds of the championship season, can he make it a hat-trick this weekend?)
After two exciting street course events, the IZOD Indycar Series descends on the permanent road-course known as Barber Motorsports Park, in Birmingham, Alabama, for Round 3 of the 2010 championship.
The circuit has been a frequent testing venue of the majority of the established teams for a number of years. Whilst countless pre-season miles have been covered at this venue over many pre-season shakedowns, the challenges of how to best handle race situations, such as overtaking and running in traffic, all of which are unable to be accurately replicated in a test session, will be new for all drivers.
Qualifying will be especially important as passing opportunities are limited on the picturesque 2.38 mile, 17-turn layout (below). The Alan Wilson circuit design comprises a wonderful mix of fast, sweeping corners and long straights. Barber Motorsports Park is the first visit to a permanent road-course in 2010 and unlike the first two events in Sao Paulo and St Petersburg, the walls will not be as prevalent throughout each lap. With plenty of run-off areas waiting to catch drivers who unsuccessfully test their limits, plenty of overtaking attempts will no doubt provide numerous highlights throughout the weekend.
Bertrand Baguette, the latest debutant to the series will line up for Conquest Racing alongside fellow rookie Mario Romancini. Sporting the sponsorship of the Royal Automobile Club of Belgium, Baguette comes to the series with an impressive resume listing numerous accomplishments in European Formula Renault, Belgian Touring Cars and the FIA GT Championship.
For the winner come Sunday afternoon, positive omens for the championship will be on their side, as the winner of an inaugural event has gone on to win the championship three times in the last five years. Dan Wheldon won the first running of the St Petersburg race in 2005. Dario Franchitti won the first Iowa event in 2007. Scott Dixon won the first Edmonton race in 2008, and all went on to win the series championship in those respective years.
For my race tip, I believe Will Power, as talented and capable as he is, will be unable to post three wins from three starts this weekend, despite holding the lap record at this circuit. While I am going to tip Power to finish in the Top 5, my bet is for fellow Aussie Ryan Briscoe to stamp his mark on this year’s championship by taking the win this weekend.
With so many drivers all capable of claiming a victory in such a competitive series, it really is anyone’s guess as to who will motor into IZOD Victory Lane this time out. We shall wait and see!