IRL: Motegi: Honda Thursday report

Castroneves Leads Thursday Practice in Japan Coming on the heels of his victory two weeks ago at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Marlboro Team Penske's Helio Castroneves led the way Thursday as practice began for...

Castroneves Leads Thursday Practice in Japan

Coming on the heels of his victory two weeks ago at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, Marlboro Team Penske's Helio Castroneves led the way Thursday as practice began for Saturday's Indy Japan 300 at the Honda-owned Twin Ring Motegi circuit north of Tokyo. Castroneves posted a best lap of 201.223 mph, as Andretti Green Racing's Tony Kanaan ran second-fastest, with a top speed of 200.088 mph.

Morning rain showers at Twin Ring Motegi combined with frequent strong winds to keep speeds below the 204 mph mark set during last year's opening day of practice, with temperatures also dropping throughout the afternoon. But the weather forecast for the remainder of the race weekend is good, calling for clearing skies and warmer temperatures both Friday and Saturday.

In the only incident of the day, Sam Hornish Jr. spun and hit the wall going into the fourth turn, a frequent point of contact on the Twin Ring Motegi circuit, shortly after setting the third-fastest speed of the day. He was not injured, but may have to switch to his backup car for the remainder of race weekend.

Saturday's 200-lap Indy Japan 300, the third round of the 14-race 2006 IndyCar season, starts at 1 p.m. locally in Japan, with television coverage in the USA on ESPN starting at noon, EDT.

Helio Castroneves (#3 Marlboro Team Penske Honda) fastest in practice Thursday at Twin Ring Motegi: "It took a while, but eventually it became a pretty good day for us. Not so good for my teammate [Hornish], though! Our car was actually a bit difficult at the start of practice, but we kept working on it and making changes, and pretty soon it came around for us. With the weather today, we didn't get as much track time as we normally run, but it was the same for everyone, and I think you will see the speeds improve a great deal tomorrow."

-honda-

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About this article
Series IndyCar
Drivers Helio Castroneves , Tony Kanaan , Sam Hornish Jr.
Teams Team Penske