Indy Lights rookie Matthew Brabham is confident of making a strong impact as he continues his charge up the American open-wheel ranks.
Following his second official pre-season test with the Andretti Autosports squad, Brabham showed that he is immediately on the pace in the #83 car after turning 86 laps at the Sebring track in Florida.
The 19-year-old is making the step-up from the Pro Mazda Series last year when he re-wrote the record books.
Graduating to Indy Lights comes after the stunning year in the Mazda feeder series and after his win in the 2012 USF2000 Championship.
“It’s definitely a step up compared to Pro Mazda,” Brabham told IndyCar.com
“So far it’s been challenging to get used to more power and more grip, but fun to drive. I’m slowly getting there, and it should be a good year for us.”
The two-day Sebring test comes after his maiden outing in the Andretti Indy Lights car at Barber Motorsports Park last month.
Crucially, two more tests are planned ahead of the season-opening race at St Petersburg, Florida at the end of March.
“It gives us a jump up on everybody, and that definitely helps,” Brabham said after completing his second Indy Lights test session.
“That’s what we did last year. We got ahead and managed to sort things out before everybody else did.
“It’s great to get out early and nice to have everything signed so I can just focus on testing and getting comfortable before we go out and start getting ready for the racing season.”
The Indy Lights Championship this year switches from Firestone Firehawks to Cooper tyres which will force a rethink on set-ups for all teams.
Brabham acknowledges the merits of the ‘Mazda Road to Indy’ ladder system which is in place in the North American open wheel series.
“The scholarship money from Mazda has been a big help and really propelled my career,” the grandson of triple F1 world champion Sir Jack Brabham said.
“It’s not only the scholarship money, but the Mazda Road to Indy is really big on developing drivers and not just taking their money.
“They put on a lot of functions from how to represent yourself, how to talk to the media and things that really help the series as a whole.
“I think it’s really drawing a lot of attention from the States and Europe, and I think it’s going to build more and more momentum.”