(by Matt Beer autosport.com 2-24-09)
Robert Doornbos admitted that he had been surprised by his first taste of oval driving after completing his maiden IndyCar Series test at Homestead last night.
The former Formula One driver joined fellow 2009 rookies Raphael Matos (Luczo Dragon), Mike Conway (Dreyer & Reinbold) and Stanton Barrett (3G) for an additional session on the Miami oval prior to the opening test of the season at Homestead tonight.
Doornbos, who completed his deal with Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing last week, said the test had felt like his 'first day at school'.
"Driving on an oval is definitely different than I expected," he said after completing 111 laps during the evening.
"It felt like going to a new school on the first day. I didn't really know what to expect but I got a lot of information from the team but you have to do it for yourself.
"The first five laps I thought 'Oh my god, where did I end up?' But that's because you have to run at a certain pace and once you reach that pace its actually quite fun so we ended the day on a good note and I can go to bed with a smile.
"I already got the bug and want to go faster and faster so that's a good thing. Today was definitely the fastest I have gone in a race car and I am quite proud."
The Dutchman expects an even greater challenge tonight when 22 drivers are expected to take to the track for the six-hour floodlit session.
"I have no idea what to expect with traffic," said Doornbos. "It must be something like driving in the middle of the night in China, the traffic is quite bad there.
"I will just take it as it comes. It's a steep learning curve but I enjoy it like this."