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Indy Lights champion O'Ward eyes wins in first IndyCar season

Patricio O\'Ward

Indy Lights champion Patricio O'Ward believes if he and Harding Racing can "put everything together" then he can be challenging for wins in his first IndyCar season.

The 19-year-old Mexican caused a sensation when he made the 'Fast Six' pole shootout in qualifying for his IndyCar debut at this year's season finale at Sonoma.

Although he then struggled to manage his tyres over the race stints, he recovered to finish ninth, and was soon confirmed at Harding alongside fellow rookie and Indy Lights team-mate Colton Herta for the 2019 season.

In an interview with Julia Piquet for Motorsport.TV, O'Ward said his goal for next year was "just to be smart" - but believes wins are ultimately achievable.

"I've proved that I'm fast, I've proved that I'm deserving of being there," he said.

"Sonoma was great just to get a feel of what IndyCar is and to get a feel for what it is to drive with professional drivers.

"I feel next year is going to be a very, very big learning curve for me.

"Learning the tyre and getting used to pitstops and those long races, getting that down and having those perfect every race.

"And obviously start refining all the little driver errors that I might do and just put everything together.

"And then I think we're going to be challenging for wins and podiums."

Patricio O\'Ward Harding Sonoma IndyCar 2018

Harding's expansion to a two-car team for the full season has been achieved via a tie-up with Andretti Autosport partner Steinbrenner Racing, which gives the squad significantly more resources.

O'Ward played down the fact that he and Herta form an all-rookie line-up, having both made their IndyCar debuts at Sonoma.

"It's going to be a little hard for us because we're both rookies, so we're both pushing each other and learning from each other but we don't have a veteran to learn from," he admitted.

"But I think we'll be OK. It's just another racecar, it's a little bit quicker, a bit more downforce. You just have to adapt whenever you're changing cars.

"We'll be fine. We're going to be fighting for a good amount of top fives. I think we're going to have the car to do it and I honestly can't wait to get started.

"If you're confident in your abilities and you know what you're doing it shouldn't be a problem to fight with [established IndyCar stars]. They're obviously beatable.

"Is it going to be easy? No. But I think having the confidence to do it, having the car to do it, knowing you have the tools to do it makes it far easier."

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