Larry Foyt declared himself happy with the pace of Jack Hawksworth and Takuma Sato in first practice at St. Petersburg, but says there’s still plenty of work to do before the race.
After the AJ Foyt Racing drivers clocked second and fourth fastest times, Foyt told Motorsport.com, “It’s great to come out of the box this way – really good – but it’s a typical street course.
“You’re constantly chasing the track conditions in terms of rubber down, trying to second guess how it’s going to change. But it’s definitely encouraging that we made the right kind of assessments before the weekend.”
Foyt took on George Klotz as team director last fall, added Dan Hobbs as race engineer on the #41 of Hawksworth and switched Raul Prado to Sato’s #14 entry. Foyt said these changes had made the difference in the off-season.
“We’ve definitely stepped up the engineering depth,” said Foyt, “and I think that’s paying off. Last year was just one of those seasons where whenever we ran well, something would go wrong.
“We’re trying to eliminate those possibilities in 2016 and make a big step forward. It’s about getting to the end of sessions without problems. And, yeah, so far, so good.
“Long way to go though.”
Foyt said that the new HPD aero kit had not yet been proven on track, considering the early stage of the weekend. But he stated there was a notable improvement over last year’s kit, and he was impressed with Honda’s work ethic.
“After Phoenix, I think we felt we were still a little bit behind with the kit,” said Foyt. “It’s still a drag issue.
“But I’m encouraged by the fact that Honda are still working on it, still engaged in trying to improve.
“And definitely I’d say we’re closer this year. And on a track like this, I don’t think there’s an issue.”