Pippa Mann took to the track this week for the first time in 2009, when she completed a two-day test for Panther Racing at Palm Beach International Raceway’s two-mile Road Course.
Preparing for the season ahead, Panther Racing’s British line-up of Mann and team mate Martin Plowman were joined by Genoa Indy Lights, Guthrie Meyer Racing, and Sam Schmidt Motorsports.
The first day saw Mann run 80 laps in her Firestone Indy Lights car, working on the general set-up over a race distance, and the suspension. The British female performed consistently throughout the day, despite running on old tyres for the majority, producing comparative times to her peers.
The following day the team got back to work on the car, altering the set-up yet again in an attempt to exploit whatever advantage they could at this point in the pre-season testing. As Mann explained, “It’s really important for us to try out as many different set-ups as possible, prior to the first race in March, as we want to show up at Homestead with our best foot forward. In light of this, the past two days have been hugely positive for the team, and we’ve tested a number of different ways in which to yield productive results for the coming season.”
Commenting on their performance, Mann said: “We’ve come a long way from the first test at Sebring, both in terms of my understanding and feel for the car, and the car itself. I think the team’s had a strong start to the year, and we can really build on this test moving forward. There’sa lot more we can extract from driver and car, so at this point, I believe we’re in a good position.” Ipswich-based racer Mann signed for Panther Racing in October 2008, after two years competing for P1 Motorsport in the World Series by Renault 3.5. The 25 year-old will now contest the 2009 Firestone Indy Lights Championship - currently the only British female to do so.
With fellow Brit Martin Plowman completing Panther’s line-up in the IRL-feeder series, and Englishman and former-Indy Racing League champion Dan Wheldon announced as the team’s IRL entry, Panther Racing has a trio of British drivers who will certainly be looking for success in the States in 2009.