IndyCar drivers check out Belle Isle
DETROIT (AP) — English driver Katherine Legge expects an eventful return when the IndyCar Series comes back to the Motor City next month.
Legge, Rubens Barrichello of Brazil and Oriol Servia of Spain were in Detroit on Monday, checking out Belle Isle Park, site of the Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix set for June 1-3. It will be the first IndyCar race in the city since 2008, and Legge is unfamiliar with the track.
“It looks very bumpy, which is going to make it very interesting,” she said. “As drivers, we complain about the bumps. ... We want it really smooth. We want long straights, we want hard-braking areas. But at the end of the day, the bumps, they make for ... overtaking and crashes, and that’s what the fans want. So it’s actually a good thing. We’re just very picky.”
The three drivers all qualified for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500, but they took some time on Monday to hold a media event on a yacht that circled Belle Isle on the Detroit River. Open-wheel cars first ran in Detroit in 1982, when Formula One raced on the streets of downtown before the event moved to Phoenix in 1988. The now-defunct CART series ran on Belle Isle from 1992 to 2001 and IndyCar racing returned in 2007.
“I think it has to be on the IndyCar schedule. It’s good for us, it’s good for the city,” Servia said. “Now, with Chevy being involved again in IndyCar, and they’ve come in a big way, showing all of the commitment, it just makes more sense to come to their home race, their headquarters in Detroit.”
Chevrolet recently unveiled a new motor, joining Honda and Lotus on the circuit in General Motors’ first open-wheel foray since 2005.
Legge and Barrichello are both IndyCar rookies, while Servia finished fourth at Belle Isle in 2008.
“I’m trying to mislead them as much as I can, especially Rubens,” Servia joked. “He’s an amazing driver. ... He knows so much about the industry and how to make a team work and a car work. We need to take advantage this year, when he’s just learning the tracks. I think next year he’ll be a lot tougher to beat.”
Barrichello, a F1 veteran, has been adapting to the IndyCar Series. He’s started four IndyCar races this season, finishing no higher than eighth.
He did qualify 10th of 33 for the Indy 500.
“I didn’t have the results that I wish I had, but they’re coming,” Barrichello said. “I’ve got to be happy with the situation.”