Brabham breezes through first Indy 500 test
Matt Brabham has sailed through the first day of his Indianapolis 500 quest by passing his Rookie Orientation test at the superspeedway.
Pirtek Team Murray driver Brabham completed the first two phases of the test with four other drivers which sees set speeds at incremental increases in a two-hour period.
The first phase of 10 laps at over 210mph (337km/h) and second part of 15 laps at over 215mph (346km/h) saw Brabham, Stefan Wilson, Alex Rossi, Max Chilton and Spencer Pigot all slip through without incident.
Brabham along with Wilson, whose Chevrolet is also being run out of the KV Racing operation, elected to undertake the final phase of their rookie test during open practice with both passing the test without incident.
In total Brabham turned a total of 49 laps for a best of 222.57mph (358.19km/h) on his 45th tour of the 4km oval.
The 22-year-old was 25th overall in the 33-car field.
“It took me a while to build up to speed, I was slowly learning the lines and getting used to how to get around the Speedway,” Brabham said.
“The focus for me today was becoming acclimatised to the car in Speedway trim.
“Our number one goal to get through that program today, which we did.
“This afternoon, we got to run an hour with the rest of the field, so was able to experience some traffic on track. I just had a lot of fun out there really.
“I didn’t expect all the other drivers to get out there and run in a big pack. When everyone was out there swapping, changing and passing and almost racing in some ways, it was a bit daunting to start with.
“Once I had done that for a couple of laps, I got into a rhythm and was feeling more comfortable.
“I didn’t feel too bad at all hanging around those guys, following them and seeing how they race was really good experience.”
At the completion of open practice Rossi (Andretti Autosport) was the leading rookie, finishing fourth fastest as Chilton was 12th, Pigot 24th and Wilson 28th.
Brabham’s re-acclimatisation of The Brickyard comes two years after he was beaten in a photo finish by Gabby Chaves in the Freedom 100 Indy Lights race.
Drivers who have had previous Indy 500 experience also took part in a refresher course by completing the final two phases of the orientation program.
Townsend Bell (#29 Honda), Bryan Clauson (#88 Honda), JR Hildebrand (#6 Chevrolet), Sage Karam (#24 Honda) and Oriol Servia (#77) all went through.
VIDEO: Wrap of Brabham’s rookie day at Indy