Takuma Sato was the only Honda driver to make the Fast 6.
St. Petersburg, Fla - A.J. Foyt Enterprises expanded to a two-car effort for the first time since 2002 after signing Jack Hawksworth to partner 2013 Long Beach Grand Prix winner Takuma Sato.
The move seems to have paid off for the team as they have been the fastest Honda team in the Verizon IndyCar Series 2015 season opener on the Streets of St. Petersburg.
In the first practice session of the weekend, Hawksworth was the sixth fastest car and the leading Honda after five Chevrolets. Sato could only manage 12th, but he was the third fastest Honda after James Hinchcliffe managed to get 7th. In the second practice session, no cars took to the track because it was a wet session, but in the third session, Sato was able to claw his way up to fourth fastest while Hawksworth was down in 20th.
Proud of the effort
Team manager Larry Foyt was proud of the progress his team has made since they got these new aero kits and highlighted the advantages of having a second car from which data could be drawn.
“We’ve had such a short amount of time to develop these aero kits that being able to try different things with a couple of cars has been a good advantage for us.”
Qualifying was very much a feast or famine session for the Foyt squad. Hawksworth was out in the first round and will line up 21st for the race. Sato, on the other hand, managed to become the only Honda-powered driver in the Firestone Fast Six. He managed to qualify fifth, breaking up the Chevrolet monopoly of the top three rows of the grid.
“We obviously need to maximize performance. Over the course of the winter testing, I think we were quite satisfied with the result today,” Sato said.
Hawksworth encounters issues
Hawksworth’s problem in qualifying was under braking.
“For some reason we were struggling under braking -- the rear of the car was pretty loose and we didn't have any traction so we need to find out why and start again tomorrow,” Hawksworth said.
Honda powers the last five cars on the starting grid and Hawksworth is the second of those five cars. After Sato, the next highest Honda starts eighth.