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New DW12 off to a fast start at St Pete

A Honda-powered Ganassi topped the first Friday practice but then the Chevrolet-powered Penskes went faster in the afternoon. One thing's for sure: they're all very fast indeed.
Scott Dixon had impressed in the Honda-powered Ganassi car during the first practice session of the season at St Petersburg with a lap of 1:03.0406s (or 102.791mph), but Will Power's efforts in the Penske-Chevrolet car in second practice sliced another full second off that seemingly without trying as he set the best lap of the day at 1:02.0077s (104.503mph).

It was an impressive first day for the new DW12 Dallara chassis and the new-specification engines, that was for sure.

"I'm enjoying it like a kid with a new toy!" said Briscoe, who finished just 0.0854s off his team mate Power's best time. "It already feels faster than the old car around here, braking later. It feels really good, especially the extra horsepower from the Chevrolet twin-turbo V6. It's definitely a different feel."

All of the drivers set their best times in the second practice session of the day, as the 1.8-mile temporary street course got more rubber laid down and grip increased as a result. Last year was similar, with the track seeing times fall from 1:04.1437s in first practice to 1:01.9625s in time for the Firestone Fast Six final round of qualifying on the Saturday, and the fastest lap of the 2011 race set by Helio Castroneves with a 1:03.8683.

"It was definitely a good first day for Team Penske," said Castroneves of his 2012 efforts so far after finishing sixth fastest for the day. "The [Penske] car was very promising. Our second session was much improved and the guys did a good job. I'm very encouraged about our chances for tomorrow and in Sunday's race."

Power's top time was set on just his third lap out in the afternoon, and he only ran seven laps in total in the session. He was quick to say that his limited running time on Friday afternoon didn't indicate any problems with his #12 Verizon car.

"We didn't do many laps in the second session, we wanted to conserve tyres until we have a better understanding of how they degrade and it puts us in a good position for tomorrow in practice," he explained.

Friday at St Petersburg was the very first time that all the cars and drivers have been out in their new chassis and with their new engines, and with a second covering the top 19 cars it proved that the new hardware had substantially increased the level of competition out on track

"It's actually very tight and very close," said Power. "It's pretty good."

Penske are obviously keeping their eyes on arch-rivals Ganassi, with Dario Franchitti, Graham Rahal and Scott Dixon packing out the next three positions from third through to fifth in the day's timesheets and looking ominously strong as a result.

"We're still learning both the engine and the chassis," said Franchitti, whose best time was 1:02.2232s (104.141mph). "The Target guys are working hard on it and we have tonight and a practice session tomorrow to get it right for qualifying. You always have these things when you're developing a new car. It's a lot of work."




Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Will Power happy with the top time during Friday practice on the streets of Baltimore - September 2011. [Photo Credit: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media]
Scott Dixon [Picture Credit: Brett Kelley for IndyCar Media]
Will Power in the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet during pre-season testing at Sebring. March 2012. [Photo Credit: Michael Levitt - LAT for IndyCar Media]
The confetti flies as Scott Dixon celebrates winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon takes the twin chequered flags to win the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates his win in Victory Circle after the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
The cars of Ryan Briscoe and Sebastien Bourdais go off course during the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The cars of Ryan Briscoe and Sebastien Bourdais go off course during the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The cars of Ryan Briscoe and Sebastien Bourdais go off course during the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The field scatters as the drivers avoid the cars of Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Briscoe at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon and the #9 Target Chip Ganassi team celebrate after the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon poses with the trophies after the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud on the podium after the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon toasts his success in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
The confetti flies as Scott Dixon celebrates winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 24, 2014, winning the IndyCar race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Russell LaBounty/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 24, 2014, winning the IndyCar race at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)

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Don - Unregistered

March 24, 2012 3:05 AM

Lot's of talk about the car being faster, even with such limited development time. Great news! The track on the other hand is going to be slower and harder to drive as many of the curbs have been re-done and cannot be driven over as in previous years. The added height dictates that they have to drive around them, slowing things down considerably. Can't wait for qualifying and the race to see how it all unfolds. Also, good luck to Rubens! You're going to find there's a lot of talented pilots in IndyCar.



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