When thirteen young drivers showed up to take part in the Indianapolis 500 Rookie Orientation Program on Sunday, officials noted that this was the biggest turn out since 1997. However only a few could make the cut and it remained to be seen just how many drivers would manage to complete all four phases of the program.
The Orientation Program took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on 4 May 2008, where the 500-mile race has been held regularly for the past 91 years. During the course of the program the rookies are given the opportunity to practice on the 2.5-mile oval track for two days before the track is opened to all drivers. Of all the rookies that took part, Will Power proved to be the fastest. Power’s fastest lap time was 40.7804 seconds.
The grueling two-day orientation program certainly isn’t a picnic. During the course of the two days, the rookies need to pass all four phases of the orientation program. During each phase the drivers are required to demonstrate consistent car control for 10 laps. At the start of each phase there is an increase in the level of speed required and drivers will not only have to navigate their way between other drivers, but they will also have to ensure that they are performing at a satisfactory level at a satisfactory speed.
This year’s competitors really proved that they are ready to join the ranks of more mature racers when ten of them passed all four of the phases. These drivers were: Jaime Camara, Jay Howard, Alex Lloyd, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Hideki Mutoh, Oriol Servia, Justin Wilson, Graham Rahal, E.J. Viso and, of course, Will Power. Enrique Bernoldi managed to complete three of the four phases and may still complete the fourth phases during the course of the month. The remaining two drivers will have to complete the first three phases of the orientation program if they wish to remain eligible to compete in the Indianapolis 500 later this year.
The legendary Indianapolis 500 is set to start on May 25 later this year. Both rookies and veterans are looking forward to yet another year of great racing during the course of this spectacular racing event.