At the end of this week, the time has finally come again and the Indy Lights starts into its new season. Last year, unfortunately, the race series could not be held due to the global pandemic. In this preview we take a look at the teams and their drivers, all the race tracks, the race format and points system, as well as the pre-season testing, the so-called "Spring Training" at Barber Motorsports Park. Also, as usual, I'll give a little prediction on the drivers and teams championship at the end.
Robert Megennis, Kyle Kirkwood, Danial Frost
At Andretti Autosport, the lineup of drivers is almost identical to those already planned for last year. Robert Megennis will start his second Indy Lights season this year. In 2019, he was already able to celebrate a victory in the first race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He also finished on the podium another five times and finished the season in 5th place. Kyle Kirkwood was the 2019 Indy Pro 2000 champion. Last year, he drove only two races in the IMSA SportsCar Championship. Earlier in his career, he won the USF2000, FR Americas and F4 US championships. Their teammate for this season is Danial Frost. The 19-year-old from Singapore competed in Indy Pro 2000 and FR Americas last year. He finished the Indy Pro 2000 season in third place in the championship.
Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport
Devlin DeFrancesco has also made the move up to the Indy Lights series. Last year, he joined the Indy Pro 2000 Series on a rather short notice, where he won two races, finished on the podium six times and ultimately finished runner-up in the overall standings. As he did last year, he will compete again this year with Andretti Autosport and Steinbrenner Racing.
Alex Peroni, Christian Bogle
Carlin returns to the Indy Lights Series this year. Australian Alex Peroni raced in FIA Formula 3 with Canpos for the past two years. Last year he managed to finish on the podium three times. His teammate for this season will be Christian Bogle, who also competes in Formula Regional Americas this year.
Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports
Benjamin Pedersen, Linus Lundqvist
Global Racing Group competes for the first time this year in the Indy Lights Series in cooperation with HMD Motorsports. Benjamin Pedersen competed last year in British Formula 3, Euroformula Open and FR Americas. He finished on the podium three times in British F3. Linus Lundqvist came to the U.S. last year after winning the British F3 title in 2019. And the 22-year-old Swede dominated the Formula Regional Americas season. He won 15 races and was on the podium in 16 of 17 races.
Nikita Lastochkin, David Malukas
Two drivers will be competing for HMD Motorsports this year. The 30-year-old Nikita Lastochkin is a new addition to the team. The Russian last competes in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship in 2019, where he finished sixth overall. David Malukas is entering his second Indy Lights season with the team. In 2019, he managed to pull out two podiums and finish sixth in the championship. Last year, he competed in Formula Regional Americas, where he finished runner-up.
Sting Ray Robb, Toby Sowery
Juncos Racing will compete with two cars this season. Reigning Indy Pro 2000 champion Sting Ray Robb will make his racing debut in the series this weekend. Last year he won seven Indy Pro races and finished on the podium eleven times. His British teammate Toby Sowery enters his second Indy Lights season this year after 2019, when he won one race, finished on the podium seven times and finished third in the championship.
It was also recently announced that Antonio Serravalle will be competing with his father's Pserra Racing team. The Canadian will finish tenth in the Indy Pro 2000 championship in 2019.
Round 1: Barber Motorsports Park (17-18 April)
The season opener will be held at Barber Motorsports Park, just like the testing this year. Two races will be held here this season. In 2018, Indy Lights races were last held in Birmingham, Alabama. Patricio O'Ward and Andretti Autosport won both races then.
Round 2: Streets of St. Petersburg (24-25 April)
After being the season opener for years, the weekend now moves to second on the calendar. In the last two races held here in 2019, Zachary Claman won with Belardi and Rinus VeeKay won with Juncos.
Round 3: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (14-15 May)
The third stop this year is the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. As with the last staging in 2019, two races will be held on the road course at the speedway in Indiana again this year. The races were won then by Robert Megennis with Andretti and Rinus VeeKay with Juncos. In addition, for the first time since 2002, the Freedom 100 will not be run on the Indianapolis oval this year.
Round 4: The Raceway at Belle Isle Park (12-13 June)
The Raceway at Belle Isle Park is back on the Indy Lights calendar. The last time an Indy Lights race was held here was in 2012 and Gustavo Yacáman won.
Round 5: Road America (19-20 June)
The Indy Lights Series then returns to Road America in June. The last two races of 2019 were won by Ryan Norman with Andretti and Rinus VeeKay with Juncos.
Round 6: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course (3-4 July)
At the beginning of July, racing will resume at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. The last races were held here in 2019. Oliver Askew and Andretti Autosport won both races then.
Round 7: Exhibition Place (10-11 July)
On the second weekend in July we will go to Canada. The two feeder races of the 2019 Grand Prix of Toronto were won by Aaron Telitz with Belardi and Oliver Askew with Andretti.
Round 8: Gateway Motorsports Park (20-21 August)
The only oval races of the season will be held at Gateway Motorsports Park this year. Only one race was held here in 2019. It was won by Oliver Askew with Andretti Autosport.
Round 9: Portland International Raceway (11-12 September)
The ninth and penultimate weekend of the season will be held at Portland International Raceway. The last two races of 2019 were won by Rinus VeeKay with Juncos and Toby Sowery with HMD/Pelfrey.
Round 10: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (18-19 September)
As in 2019, the season finale will be held at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, California. Both races were won by Rinus VeeKay and Juncos Racing at the time.
The Indy Lights Series race format this year includes two races per weekend. The starting formation for both races are determined by two qualifying sessions. The starting grid for Race 1 is based on Qualifying 1. The starting grid for Race 2 is based on Qualifying 2.
Since Indy Lights is run on both street and street circuits as well as oval tracks, there are two different scoring systems. On a street or street circuit, the top 20 get points. The winner gets 30 points. The second and third place get 25 and 22 points respectively. In addition, there is an extra point for the pole position and the most lead laps.
(P1: 30, P2: 25, P3: 22, P4: 19, P5: 17, P6: 15, P7: 14, P8: 13, P9: 12, P10: 11, P11: 10, P12: 9, P13: 8 P14: 7, P15: 6, P16: 5, P17: 4, P18: 3, P19: 2, P20: 1)
On an oval there are also points for the best 20 drivers. However, since there are significantly fewer oval races compared to other races, there are more points to be won in an oval race. Again, there is one extra point each for pole position and most lead laps.
(P1: 45, P2: 38, P3: 33, P4: 29, P5: 26, P6: 23, P7: 21, P8: 20, P9: 18, P10: 17, P11: 15, P12: 14, P13: 12 P14: 11, P15: 9, P16: 8, P17: 6, P18: 5, P19: 3, P20: 2)
For the team championship again other points are awarded. Teams with only one car will receive three bonus points to compensate for teams with multiple cars. Furthermore, only the two best results count for all teams with more than two cars.
(P1: 22, P2: 18, P3: 15, P4: 12, P5: 10, P6: 8, P7: 6, P8: 4, P9: 2, P10+: 1)
The winner of the Indy Lights series will win a $1,250,000 scholarship and three guaranteed entries into the following IndyCar season, including the Indy 500. In addition, the top three in the championship will get the opportunity for some IndyCar tests.
As is the case every year, preseason testing sessions called "Spring Trainings" were held. The Indy Lights was on the track for two test sessions at Barber Motorsports Park on April 6th.
The first session in the morning lasted two hours. Linus Lundqvist set the fastest time ahead of David Malukas and his teammate Benjamin Pedersen.
After a one-hour lunch break, the race cars took to the track again for three hours. This time David Malukas was a touch faster than Linus Lundqvist. Robert Megennis finished the session in third place.
P1: David Malukas
P2: Linus Lundqvist + 0.0437 sec
P3: Benjamin Pedersen + 0.2330
P4: Robert Megennis + 0.3019
P5: Kyle Kirkwood + 0.4426
P6: Alex Peroni + 0.5657
P7: Danial Frost + 0.8384
P8: Toby Sowery + 0.8611
P9: Sting Ray Robb + 0.8815
P10: Devlin DeFrancesco + 0.8819
As you already know from other race series, I give you my predictions for the upcoming drivers and teams championships in Indy Lights.
Drivers Championship Prediction
P1: Kyle Kirkwood
P2: Linus Lundqvist
P3: David Malukas
P4: Robert Megennis
P5: Alex Peroni
If the Indy Lights had taken place last year, he would have been my absolute title favorite. But Kyle Kirkwood is certainly one of the fastest drivers in the field this year. He will be competing against drivers like Linus Lundqvist or David Malukas for the first time this year. Both were convincing in Spring Training and are also among my hottest title candidates. Behind them I see Robert Megennis, Alex Peroni, Sting Ray Robb, Toby Sowery and Danial Frost who can compete for podium places, but also for some victories.
Teams Championship Prediction
P1: Andretti Autosport
P2: Global Racing Group with HMD Motorsports
P3: HMD Motorsports
The teams championship will also be enormously exciting this year. Andretti, Global Racing and HMD are my favorites. In the end, I think Andretti Autosport will have the edge. I am also curious about the performance of Juncos Racing. It's quite possible that we'll see them in the top 3 at the end.
written by Claudio Graf (youngdriversmonthly) / 13th April, 2021