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Indy Lights announces halo and expanded prizes for 2021 return

by Craig Woollard

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Indy Lights has announced its return for 2021 after being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with a bigger prize fund and tests for more series frontrunners.

The series, which has featured small grids in recent years, was the big loser as a result of the global situation and how it affected the parent IndyCar series. It was put on a year-long hiatus to make room for more Indy Pro 2000 and USF2000 races, which feature larger grids.

On the eve of the season, which almost got underway at St. Petersburg before being abandoned, only 10 drivers were officially announced and several more expected later in the year.

As intended the series is to return for 2021, with confirmation being announced on Wednesday. Its calendar is due to be released ahead of the IndyCar, IP2000 and USF2000 finales next weekend.

St. Petersburg has been confirmed as the curtain-raiser, while the 10-round season will feature some changes compared to previous years.

The champion will now receive $1,250,000 as a prize, up from $1.1m in 2019. The three-race guarantee including the following year’s Indianapolis 500 remains unchanged.

In addition, the top three finishers in the championship will all receive a guaranteed IndyCar test at the end of the season.

“After careful planning with the Indycar team, we are pleased to confirm the exciting addition of a season-ending Indycar test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway soon after the 2021 season,” said Dan Andersen, owner and CEO of series organiser Andersen Promotions.

“We continue to explore additional ways to strengthen the Indy Lights championship. In the interim, we want to spread the word that Indy Lights will be back, and it will be stronger than ever.”

“From top to bottom, the entire team recognizes the role and commitment Indy Lights has played in bringing new talent to the IndyCar series,” said Mark Miles, president and CEO of IndyCar-owning Penske Entertainment. “We are firmly committed to ensuring its continued success.”

On top of that, the Dallara IL-15 is set to be altered for 2021 to accommodate the halo cockpit protection device, which has already been introduced in European junior single-seaters from Formula 2 down to Formula 4.

Reigning IP2000 champion Kyle Kirkwood is set to race in the championship, while whoever is this year’s champion will also receive a scholarship to race. Juncos Racing’s Sting Ray Robb currently leads the championship.

In addition, newly-crowned Formula Regional Americas champion Linus Lundqvist has also been rewarded a scholarship to race in Indy Lights.