During the first four races of the 2011 season - all of which were road and street courses - Will Power was the man to beat, and frequently no one could. After two months on ovals, where Power is markedly less dominant compared with his main title rival Dario Franchitti, the Penske driver will be relieved to be back 'home' on a road course once more.

Power set the fastest lap time of the Friday practice sessions with 1:00.5581s, a tenth of a second ahead of Scott Dixon and over four tenths faster than Dario Franchitti in third.

Not that Power was satisfied yet. "The Verizon car is good, but we are still not quick enough. "We are just a bit off the pace," he insisted. "We still have a few things in mind to improve the car."

As for that fastest time, set just before the end of the session, Power crdited that to a well-timed switch to fresh rubber. "We put tyres on there at the end of the second practice and no one else did," he explained. "It is great to be in Toronto, though, and really good to see all the fans."

"It's definitely cool to be back at a street course, especially Toronto," agreed Dixon. "It's a fun circuit. It's definitely different than the last four races with all left hand turns and now coming back to a bumpy circuit. The track seems to be a little bumpier, especially going into turn 1 and maybe down the backstraight as well. It's created a few new issues that we haven't had here before."

He was surprised by the pace of everyone in the field. "The times actually seem surprisingly quick. Even on the primary tyres, we only seems to be five-tenths off the quick times of the options."

For James Hinchcliffe it's a special occasion, marking his homecoming for the first time since he stepped up form Indy Lights to the senior series. He admitted that the leap was proving to be bigger than he'd expected, especially here on a circuit he assumed he knew well.

"I could definitely tell the difference between the Lights car and the Indy car on this track," he agreed. "This track gets tougher and tougher every year and in every [series] you move up in. We took the first session to just get used to everything."

Also doing well and bouncing back to strong form after a subdued foray on the ovals in recent weeks is Britain's Justin Wilson.

"I think that it has been a pretty good day. We seem fairly competitive and the car is very similar to last year," he said. "I'm happy with the progress so far, but we can't relax."

Like Dixon, he was quick to point out just how much everyone had improved and times had tumbled since the series' last visit to Toronto. "We are making progress, but the downside is that everyone else is as well. The quickest time today is quicker than P3 in qualifying last year. It's going to be a strong pace and it's going to be a tight field and we've got to work hard at making it one of the best cars that we've ever had just to be competitive."

Certainly no one is looking confident of what will happen in qualifying on Saturday afternoon = especially because bumpy road courses are notoriously easy to make errors on during timed runs and end up with the car in the tyre wall.

Simona de Silvestro was passed fit to race after having to withdraw from the previous race with post-concussion symptoms, after passing a medical re-evaluation; Will Power had also suffered a light concussion in a crash at Iowa but had already passed medical checks in order to conduct Penske team testing at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course at the end of June.

Full practice times available.