Tatiana Calderón gathered more valuable experience in the NTT IndyCar Series last weekend as she made her road course debut at Barber Motorsports Park.
The Colombian driver made it to the chequered flag in 26th position at the end of a gruelling 90-lap outing at the Alabama circuit, renowned for being one of the toughest on the IndyCar calendar, at the wheel of her No. 11 ROKiT-backed AJ Foyt Racing Dallara-Chevrolet.
It served as a positive learning opportunity as Tatiana tackled a permanent course for the first time following her first two appearances in the championship on street tracks.
Despite having no prior experience of Barber, Tatiana managed to close the gap to her AJ Foyt Racing teammates Kyle Kirkwood and Dalton Kellett to just a couple of tenths of a second on her way to the 13th-fastest time in her qualifying segment on Saturday.
Unfortunately, the race was more of a struggle as the so-called ‘black’, harder compound of Firestone tyres proved difficult to get up to the correct working temperature, with Tatiana’s pace improving considerably upon switching to the softer compound ‘red’ tyres.
With only one safety car period all race to bunch up the field all race, Tatiana focused on executing another mistake-free race to make it three finishes from her first three IndyCar starts and identifying a clear area of improvement to work on for future races.
Tatiana Calderón: “It was a tough weekend for the whole team. We struggled at this particular track to get the tyres switched on, particularly the ‘black’ compound. I was happy with my pace in qualifying, it was the closest I had been to my teammates all season, and with no testing at this track before the start of the weekend. The mechanics also did a great job to repair the car after warm-up in time for the race. We started the race on the ‘black’ compound but it was hard to get it in the operating window, but when we switched to the ‘red’ compound the car felt much better and my pace was good. Unfortunately the ‘wave-by’ after the safety car period came too late for me to catch up to the pack, and then we struggled going back to the black tyres for the final part of the race. At least we know what we need to work on because we’ll be using the same tyre compound for the next couple of races. Now I’m looking forward to my first experience of Indianapolis later this month.”
Tatiana’s 12-race IndyCar schedule continues with the GMR Grand Prix at the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 14.