Championship team sets strong baseline for mid-season oval events.
BROWNSBURG, IN (May 16, 2015) – With the Freedom 100 just over a week away, Belardi Auto Racing joined its fellow Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires teams at Chicagoland Raceway in Joliet, IL for an official oval test on Thursday, May 14. The reigning series champions completed a very successful outing with their driver duo – Felix Serralles and Juan Piedrahita – finishing 1-2 on the time charts, posting average speeds of over 193 mph. The 1.5-mile tri-oval is a tough track to tame and both the drivers and the Belardi staff worked diligently to overcome any problems and develop a strong baseline for the upcoming run of oval events at Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Iowa. Serralles would pace the field with a best lap time of 28.137 seconds (194.473 mph), while Piedrahita was just a tick behind in second, turning a time of 28.316 seconds. The drivers were pleased with their cars while both running alone and in traffic.
“I’m extremely pleased with our drivers and my team, as they bounced back from a disappointing weekend in Indianapolis to show what we’re made of,” commented Team Principal Brian Belardi. “The consistency of both Felix and Juan means that we have a great baseline set-up to take to upcoming races, as three of our next four events are on ovals. We’re focused defending our Freedom 100 win from last year and this productive test at Chicagoland will give us momentum heading into Indianapolis. We have a long-term focus on our Indy Lights program and successful tests like this will help us now and into 2015 and beyond.”
Serralles is new to oval racing but has quickly adapted to the art form, and he and the team overcame some hurdles with his #4 S&S Tire Dallara IL15 to formulate a strong and consistent set-up.
“We had a few concerns with the car at first, but the team was able to fix the issues and put me on-track with a set-up I liked,” admitted Serralles, who has two top-fives this year, including a podium at Long Beach. “Once I was able to settle in and feel comfortable, I kept gaining confidence on the feeling of an oval, and I put a good lap together at the end of the day.”
In contrast to his teammate, Piedrahita has more oval experience, having worked his way through the Mazda Road to Indy, which provided him with successful track time at the Milwaukee Mile in Pro Mazda before moving to Indy Lights last year. Juan finished second to Pro Mazda series champion Matthew Brabham at Milwaukee in 2013.
“My Belardi car was extremely fast all day long and we were quick with and without a tow,” Piedrahita enthused. “We did some traffic runs and the car was spectacular. Heading to Indy, I’m confident we will be in contention for the win.”
The team has returned to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to begin preparations for this coming weekend’s Freedom 100 on Friday, May 22. The week will begin with an official test day at IMS on Monday, May 18, while practice and qualifying are scheduled for Thursday, May 21.