The Dragon Racing team has received a massive boost to its stop-start 2012 IndyCar Series campaign after getting the green light from series officials to switch to Chevrolet power for the rest of the season after it became the third team to dump its engine deal with the woefully underperforming Lotus.
The team, run by Jay Penske and which fields Sébastien Bourdais and Katherine Legge in its line-up, created headlines by filing a $4.6 million lawsuit against Lotus, claiming that the carmaker had repeatedly sought to undermine the team and breached its contract with the two-car operation.
The split had threatened to leave the team sidelines for the upcoming Indianapolis 500 unless it could secure a last-minute engine deal with alternative engine suppliers Honda or Chevrolet.
Fortunately a deal has been struck with the latter, which was brokered by IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard.
“We are pleased to see this issue resolved as we head into the final practice days in advance of qualifying,” Bernard said.
“I have to thank all parties for working together to help preserve the traditions of the Indianapolis 500.”
The absence of Dragon Racing could have seen this year’s Indianapolis 500 grid with well under its 33-car limit, with the current entry list appearing to indicate that all entries will make the grid for the classic race.
The late deal meant that Bourdais was able to complete his oval refresher course program (a stipulation for racers who have been absent from oval racing competition) in Legge’s car before working on fine-tuning the set-up ahead of qualifying.
Legge (pictured left), meanwhile, must complete her Rookie Orientation Program, having never driven at Indianapolis.
On the fifth day of practice at ‘the Brickyard’ Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing’s rookie driver Josef Newgarden topped the timesheets for the third time this week, with a fastest average lap speed of 222.785mph.
The two Lotus-powered entries, driven by Jean Alesi (Fan Force United) and Simona de Silvestro (HVM Racing) finished well off the pace – some 3.4 seconds adrift – with both expressing concerns at their lack of overall speed.
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