Second year Firestone Indy Lights driver Martin Plowman was the man to beat on the opening day of the 2010 season, claiming top spot in practice on the streets of St Petersburg.

The Briton, now with AFS/Andretti Autosport, turned in a lap of 1min 08.1958secs to edge out fellow returnee James Hinchcliffe, but admitted that there was still a lot of work to do to turn the weekend into a triumph.

"It is great to get this season off to a start, and to be position one in practice is great," he noted, "They don't give points or a trophy for practice, but it is a nice confidence booster to know we had a fast car.

"I am not completely happy with the car the way it is. It is good, but we need some more things to get the pole on Saturday. I feel confident that it is going to be a great weekend."

Hinchcliffe, meanwhile, is also in new colours this season, having joined Team Moore Racing, and was delighted to have made a strong start to the campaign.

"I think we had a really solid race car," the Canadian claimed, "We rolled of the trailer with something decent and picked away at it. Every change we made, we were able to find a gain. From our point of view, it gave us the confidence to keep on the set-up track that we have been on. Not only fast, but the car was consistent at the end there. I am really proud of the team and the guys, and I am looking forward to tomorrow now."

Stefan Wilson was third fastest for Bryan Herta Autosport on a good day for the Britons - his brother was also third fastest in IndyCar practice - while Charlie Kimball (AFS/Andretti) and Gustavo Yacaman (Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing) rounded out the top five. Frenchman JK Vernay was the leading rookie, translating his first extended run in the #7 Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry into sixth spot.

Pre-season tip Sebastian Saavedra (Bryan Herta Autosport), late signing Jonathan Summerton (Walker Racing) and Sam Schmidt team-mates Pippa Mann and Philip Major rounded out the top ten, ahead of former Champ Car podium finisher Jan Heylen.

A further 45-minute practice session on Saturday morning precedes qualifying later in the day.


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