The opening practice session of the Indycar weekend on the streets of Long Beach went to Simon Pagenaud Friday.
Long Beach, Calif. – Simon Pagenaud set the pace in the opening round of Verizon IndyCar Series practice on Friday in the streets of Long Beach. The Frenchman scooted around the 11-turn, 1.968-mile temporary street circuit in a time of 1:09.1488 or a speed of 102.457 miles per hour.
He drives the Charter Communications/SPHM Honda fielded by Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports.
“This track is one of the finest to drive on,” said Pagenaud. “The sun has been shining and the car has been wonderful. Our team did a great job over the winter preparing the car to run over the bumps and curbs. I am pretty confident going into qualifying, and I am excited about tomorrow.”
Concerning qualifying, Pagenaud noted that with different groups running on the course, teams will need to adjust to the changing conditions.
Pagenaud finished second at Long Beach in 2012, and he garnered fifth place in the season opener at St. Petersburg two weeks ago.
Cooler temperatures are anticipated for Saturday and Sunday, and Pagenaud said the carbon brakes are the most sensitive component to be affected by changes in the weather.
Another Frenchman, Sebastian Bourdais, had the second fastest speed of`102.440 mph, doing so in the Mistic KVSH Chevrolet owned by KVSH Racing.
Bourdais won three consecutive races here from 2005 to 2007 along with scoring two pole positions in 2006 and 2007, so he’s a force to be reckoned with in the upcoming action.
“This track is no different than others, as you just need the balance,” he said. “It is a pretty challenging place and commitments are always rewarded. This car can do it, and I am pretty happy with where we are. Hopefully, we can put this car up front.” Rookie Jack Hawksworth, an Englishman, surprised the veterans with a speed of 102.026 mph in the Charter/Castrol Edge Honda from the BHA/BBM with Curb Agajanian stable.
Said the young driver, “I drove here in Indy Lights last year, and the Indy Cars drive somewhat similarly, although they are better over the curbs. This track is like other street courses, you have to get the balance right. This car may be easier to get the car dialed in than it was at St. Pete. Today was a solid one for us.”
2013 winner Takuma Sato registered the fastest speed and was the only other driver to top the 102 mph mark. St. Petersburg winner Will Power timed fifth fastest.
The second five speedsters were Josef Newgarden, Ryan Briscoe, Justin Wilson, Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Two rounds of practice were run today, to be followed by 45 additional minutes on Saturday morning.
Qualifications will take place Saturday afternoon starting at 4:15 p.m. ET. The 40th annual Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach will be telecast live by the NBCSN at 4 p.m. ET on Sunday.