Armaan Ebrahim is set for a continental shift and the racer is bracing for the changes to follow.
On Tuesday, the 22-year-old secured a drive with Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA) for the 2012 Indy Lights Championship in the US. It will make him the first Indian to drive in the series, which is a feeder for the high-profile Indy Racing League (IRL).
Armaan's racing career, which till now was centred on European formula car series, will take a new turn with the shift to the Americas. He ended his three-year stint in the FIA Formula Two championship three weeks back in Austria, keen to focus entirely on the series in the US.
Armaan test drove the 500 bhp, V8 Indy Lights car at Putnam Park Road Course in Indianapolis on Tuesday and the BHA team management was impressed by the way the Indian handled the hardware. He managed to put in some hot laps, quickly adapting to the new car.
"It has been five years since I drove a car without a paddle shift and I was quite amazed as to how quickly I was able to adapt to the car. Though not as nimble as a GP2 car, it is a great car to drive and I was able to put in quick laps fairly soon," said Armaan.
He drove over 100 laps, clocking top speeds exceeding 270 kmph and impressed team owner Bryan Herta with his handling, pace and fitness as well as the ease with which he adapted to the Indy Lights car.
"Armaan acquitted himself very well with the Indy Lights car today. Although it is quite a bit different than some of the cars he has driven recently, he was quickly on the pace and we were pleased with the feedback he was able to provide to his engineers," said Herta.
BHA is one of the leading teams in the series, with their drivers making top finishes in the series this year including a win at the Indy500. This will will be a big advantage for Armaan when he makes his debut next year.
"The way the team went about its job on the track was very impressive and after a long time, I feel extremely comfortable in such an environment. The engineers, mechanics and the team manager were thoroughly professional and I'm sure we will have some good times ahead racing in America with strong results," said Armaan.
Herta, who had raced alongside Armaan in the A1GP, said the team will work out a programme suiting Armaan for next year.
"Based on today, we are actively working to put a programme in place around Armaan to not only make him the first Indian driver on the grid of the Indy Lights Series, but also ultimately the first Indian driver in the winner's circle," he said.