Mike Conway's horrific crash in the Indianapolis 500 was one of the defining images of the 2010 IndyCar season - and it left the young Briton with back and leg injuries that would rule him out of the rest of the campaign.
But after a determined recovery effort, he returned to the track with new team Andretti Autosport in tests on the Homestead road course and at Sebring this week, and was immediately quick. AUTOSPORT spoke to him afterwards.
Q. How have this week's tests gone?
Mike Conway: Good. As good as I wanted it to go. We've ticked off a lot of things over the last few days. Homestead was more getting laps in and getting back into things, and today was a good chance to work with the team and my team-mates and try lots of things. It was a very productive couple of days.
Q. So you were able to get straight on with normal testing rather than thinking too much about fitness?
MC: Yeah, there was never anything to have to think about fitness-wise. I knew I was ready and good to go, and after two laps at Homestead I knew I was fine. After that it's out of your mind really and you've just got to get on with the job in hand. It was a good chance to do that.
Q. It was business as usual then, no different emotions?
MC: Yeah, it didn't take long, only a lap or two to get up to speed, and I felt comfortable straightaway. It's what I've been preparing myself for for the last few months.
Q. There was talk of you coming back for the end of the 2010 season. Why did you hold off until now in the end?
MC: There was no rush to get back for the end of the season, it was only going to be one oval race that I would've done. It wasn't something I needed to do and with the limited testing we could've done beforehand, and with it being an oval, we didn't have a good chance of winning. So it was just decided to give myself more time in the off-season.
Q. So you feel you'll be right up to speed for the St Petersburg season-opener after next week's Barber test?
MC: Yeah. Barber's going to be another couple of days in the car to get myself dialled in. More running, more tyres to use, is good, and we'll be ready for the season.
Q. You've changed teams while you've been away, how are you finding Andretti Autosport so far?
MC: Great. It's a great team and we've been working well together. I've been working well with the engineers and my team-mates. I think we can really get the best out of each other, so it's been pretty good so far. I think everything will just keep getting better and better.
Q. Have you noticed a big difference to Dreyer & Reinbold?
MC: Yeah, it's a bigger team and a bigger outfit. They've got everything they need resources-wise to be up there. They were great guys at Dreyer & Reinbold, and I enjoyed my time there. But this is just another step now in going to a bigger team. I've got straight into it and we're working well together.
Q. Michael Andretti's team has a great record, but in the last three years it hasn't been able to join Penske and Ganassi in the title fights. How competitive do you expect it to be this year?
MC: We want to win, so we've got to work as best we can between now and the end of the season to get the best out of the car. I think the speed's there, we showed a bit of that today. We just need to put it all together.
They won races last year and had plenty of podiums, and I think there should have been some more wins there. The speed is there for sure. It's obviously never easy beating the Penske and Ganassi guys, but that's what we've got to do, so we're just going to work hard at it and I think the results will come.
Q. Are you expecting to win races this year?
MC: You definitely want to win races. That's what we've got to do. I think everything's in a position to do that. I think I've got everything I need to win. So we've just got to get out there and keep chipping away every day, getting better and better, and I think we should be able to do it.
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