Raphael Matos headed a group of unexpected pacesetters as open-wheel racing returned to the streets of Toronto's Exhibition Place for the first time under unified IndyCar Series auspices.
The Brazilian rookie, driving the #2 Luczo Dragon Racing entry, topped the 23-car field through two practice sessions on the 1.755-mile eleven-turn course, posting a lap of 1min 01.4739secs to lead Justin Wilson and Will Power by three-tenths.
It wasn't a perfect 150 minutes for Matos, who also spun and made light contact with the wall in turn eleven to bring the afternoon session to a close, but provided encouragement to the relatively small Luczo Dragon team as it took the fight to IRL giants Penske and Ganassi.
"I'm very happy for the team, and that we have a good car," Matos commented, "We're a little bit frustrated with [how] things [ended] today, but I'm sure the Luczo Dragon crew will do an amazing job again putting the car back together - I'm confident that it will be perfect again. I'm looking forward to improving the car just a little bit more and trying to find a bit more speed to hopefully qualify up front."
Wilson, still riding the wave of his Watkins Glen win last weekend, was second on the speed chart, lapping in 1min 01.7627secs in the #18 Z-Line Designs/Dale Coyne Racing car as he returned to circuit where he won in Champ Cars four years ago.
"The car is doing really well, and I'm really pleased with it," the Briton reported, "There's still room to improve, but we never got to do a proper run. We only got one lap on the new tyres, so I'm confident that we can ramp it up tomorrow and find some more speed."
Power, meanwhile, showed no signs of rustiness following another enforced absence from the cockpit of Team Penske's third entry, posting the third best time on his return to the #12 machine now backed by Penske Truck Rental.
"We were reasonably satisfied with third today while trying to find the right combination for qualifying tomorrow," the Australian, the reigning Toronto 'champion', acknowledged, "I was struggling a bit under braking as I caught slower traffic, and also while catching cars exiting the pits, but this should be better tomorrow with fewer cars on track. With rain potentially coming tomorrow too, it could make things interesting."
Robert Doornbos (Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing) took fourth place - his best showing of the season - to ensure that the category's 'big four', Penske's Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves and Ganassi's Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti had to accepted unaccustomed places between fifth and eighth.