Top rookie Lloyd hails career revival
|By Matt Beer||Sunday, October 3rd 2010, 06:24 GMT|
Alex Lloyd thanked Dale Coyne Racing for giving him a 'career lifeline' after clinching the IndyCar rookie of the year title at Homestead on Saturday night.
Prior to this season, the Briton had not raced full-time since he won the Indy Lights championship in 2007. Ganassi had signed him as a protege following that success, but was unable to put an IndyCar programme together for him, bar one-off Indianapolis outings run in collaboration with other teams.
Lloyd parted with Ganassi last autumn and contested the 2009 season finale with Newman/Haas in what was planned as a rehearsal for a full-time drive in 2010, only for a sponsor withdrawal to scupper that plan.
He then did a late deal to join Coyne's team, which had won its first race with Justin Wilson in '09, but was rebuilding this season after winter staff changes.
"It was a tough couple of years," said Lloyd, whose 12th place at Homestead ensured that he beat Simona de Silvestro to rookie honours. "Certainly coming back at the beginning of the year, you have a lot of rust that you've got to knock off. So with that you have your ups and downs.
"But it was great that I got the opportunity from Dale and Gale Coyne and [sponsor] Boy Scouts of America. That was a big thing for me, and really a life line, because after two years out of the sport, it's hard to get back in sometimes with three years out."
Lloyd struggled in the early part of the season, but then earned a stunning fourth place at Indy, which paved the way for a much more competitive second part of the championship. Other highlights included sixth on the grid and eighth in the race at Texas, and 10th at Sears Point.
"We came into this year with two goals," Lloyd said. "Our first goal was to have a good run at the Indy 500, and our second goal was to get rookie of the year.
"I am so proud that we achieved that today. There were some low points in the year, but it was a great season overall. We had to get everything to blend together, and I feel that we accomplished that."
The 25-year-old believes that he could finish in the top 10 in the championship if he stays with Coyne's team for 2011.
"I think if we can hopefully try and do this again next year, then we can learn from all those ups and downs and the things we've learned this year, and I think we could have a very strong campaign to try and put it into the top 10 in the points, which would be obviously a good achievement for all of us," Lloyd said.
Coyne added that he was delighted with Lloyd's progress this season and particularly the rookie title - especially as former grand prix driver Takuma Sato was among Lloyd's rival newcomers.
"It has a been a great year," said Coyne. "When we entered this season, we thought a Formula 1 star like Takuma Sato would be our tough competition.
"Alex and I got to know each other better after the beginning of the season, and after that first run of road courses, I don't think we ever looked back.
"He is a great kid and has done a wonderful job as an ambassador for the Boy Scouts of America. It has been a great alliance all around for us."