22 July 2011
Friday practice wash-out at Edmonton
The first day of track activity on the new-look Edmonton City Center Airport road course was a wash-out as heavy persistent rain left too much standing water to allow any running.
All practice activity for IndyCar and Indy Lights on the newly configured Edmonton City Center Airport road course was abandoned on Friday following persistent and heavy rain.
Organiser had earlier tried to reschedule practice into one late afternoon slot for each series, but with the rain showing no sign of abating sufficiently and the standing water making track conditions too hazardous, word finally came down just before 3pm local time that they were abandoning track activity for the day.
Spectactors at least got to descend on pit lane and make the most of the drivers' idle time by getting autographs and photographs, but the only on-track action they saw was Vitor Meira's three laps ... in a golf cart: "The biggest challenge is getting to know the track," he explained.
"You see the fans walking around," said Dario Franchitti. "We have somewhere dry to sit and hang out and the fans are walking around getting rained on. It's frustrating for us, but it's doubly frustrating for the fans. I felt a lot worse for those guys than for us ... For us, this is what we do."
"Today was a bit of disappointment for the fans; a lot of them showed up and they didn't get to see any on track activity, which is unfortunate," said Will Power. "This puts a lot more importance on practice Saturday morning and making sure we're efficient in what we do as soon as we can get out there on the new circuit.
"The weather looks good for the race on Sunday which is the main thing,' he added.
"I feel bad for the fans that came out today too, They stood around all day in the wet and, unfortunately, didn't get to see us run," said Power's team mate Helio Castroneves. "It's too bad that we weren't able to run today. We were really looking forward to getting out on track and getting a feel for the new layout of the circuit."
"It was great to see so many fans here today, it is amazing how these Edmonton fans show up rain or shine," said fellow Penske driver Ryan Briscoe. "I think the highlight of my day was signing a blow-up kangaroo for a little girl named Lauren."
The revised plan is to hold two 45 minute practice sessions on Saturday morning at 9.40am and 11.25am local time, before qualifying at 3.30pm.
Originally, IndyCar practice was to have consisted of an hour-and-a-quarter morning Practice 1 comprised of a first 45 minutes for rookies and those outside the championship top ten, with the final 30 minutes open to all drivers; and then an hour-long practice session in the afternoon for all cars. Organisers subsequently tried to aim for a single 90 minute practice session from 4.15pm but this too proved non-viable.
The Indy Lights program was also affected. "It's a shame the weather didn't cooperate today, it makes for a tight schedule tomorrow," said Andretti Autosports driver Stefan Wilson, brother of IndyCar's Justin Wilson. "One practice session before qualifying and the race doesn't give us much time for changes and finding a good setup."
He was looking on the bright side though. "It's good to be back in Edmonton," he said. "There will definitely be a lot of action, and fans should get their money's worth."
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