Caymanian racer Kyffin Simpson brought his debut Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires season to a close last weekend at Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca, scoring two 12th-place finishes in unfortunate circumstances.
Unseasonally hot weather bathed the Monterey countryside as the 13-car Indy Lights grid first took to the track on Friday morning. Kyffin, often quick to find the inherent pace in his car, initially logged competitive times before the other cars found their rhythm.
“Practice was a little bit difficult today. We weren’t all that quick on old tires, struggling with the balance quite a lot.” Kyffin explained.
“As we made changes it got better, but there were quite a few red flags today which limited running. Our final run on new tires was interrupted so it’s hard to say where we are versus the others.”
Heading into qualifying, Kyffin and team HMD Motorsports made several changes to the car to better suit the 17-year-old’s preferences, and there was an immediate boost in performance.
In the first half of qualifying – setting the grid for race 1 – Kyffin ran as high as 5th overall, before a few last-minute laps by his competitors relegated the #21 Ridgeline machine to 8th on the grid.
The second session was a repeat of practice with significant red flag delays, but Simpson still managed to log a lap good enough for 10th in race 2.
“It was an ok session. We changed a lot on the car so I had to adapt [to the car] quite a lot. I felt pretty good about our laps but the results are a little disappointing. I’m going to have a long look at the data to see what’s missing. It’s tough to pass here so the races are going to be interesting. Let’s see what we can do!”
After a challenging opening lap in race 1, Kyffin battled race-long with teammate Nolan Siegel and Force Indy’s Ernie Francis Jr. for a spot in the top-10. Kyffin initially held the upper hand, but a mid-race incident relegated the #21 to last of the runners. He went on to close a +10s gap to once again fight the cars ahead by the final lap, but ran out of time to make gains from 12th.
Sunday’s race 2 promised a better result with some further changes to the car, and Simpson was confident he could apply pressure at turn 1 to springboard into the mid-pack. After a strong getaway, Simpson sent his car around the outside of Francis Jr. to briefly go 3-wide, immediately putting himself in a strong position for the upcoming right-handed turn 3.
Unfortunately, a loose moment from the #99 caused contact, and Simpson was sent into the gravel on corner exit. Once again, Kyffin charged from a large distance back to challenge the cars ahead, but with the long race taking its toll on the Cooper Tire-shod Lights cars, few chances remained for an overtake,
Speaking after the final races of the 2022 season, Kyffin said:
“It was a really tough day. We had contact a couple of times which cost us a really good result, I think. We had a great start, and I tried to get around the outside of a couple of people. Unfortunately the contact spun me around and lost us quite a bit of time.”
“That kind of summarises the weekend, to be honest. HMD did a great job in making changes across the weekend to make our car better – it was really strong in the final race.”
“I’d like to say a big thank you to my sponsors Ridgeline, Visit Cayman Islands, Invest Cayman, Boddens, Simpson and many more who have been a big help this year. Also Alex, my engineer, and the whole HMD team for being so welcoming after I joined them in the summer.”
“Huge thanks to John, Michael, my Mom, Dad and sister Sophia too – huge support from them as always.”