Practice for the Honda Indy 200 got underway on Friday afternoon at 2pm local time at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with a 90 minute session divided in two, the first 45 minutes being reserved for rookies and those outside the top ten in the IZOD IndyCar Series championship standings, and the second half then open for all cars.
After routine shakedown laps, action slowly got underway with Simona de Silvestro and Giorgio Pantano - standing in for an injured Charlie Kimball in his first outing in the new DW12 car - the most eager to put some laps in while the track was at its most clear. Others also out in the first quarter of an hour were Takuma Sato, Ed Carpenter, Alex Tagliani, Rubens Barrichello, Mike Conway and Marco Andretti, but the slippery conditions discouraged many from making an early start, as drivers found problems coping with the rubber put down by the American Le Mans Series cars.
The fastest runner at the half hour mark was Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's Josef Newgarden with a lap 1:08.4865, almost a second ahead of Sebastien Bourdais and Justin Wilson. Bourdais went on to trim Newgarden's advantage to just a tenth of a second before the two returned to pit lane to regroup, leaving it to Takuma Sato to set a new benchmark time of 1:08.2332s ahead of JR Hildebrand and Marco Andretti as the track started to develop fast groove.
Alex Tagliani triggered the first red flag of the session 39 minutes into the session with a spin at turn 9 after getting unstable hitting the kerbs. The stoppage lasted over five minutes while the #98 was towed in. That meant that when the track went green it was now time for all cars to come out and join the fun; but no sooner were the cars out on track than James Hinchcliffe had a copycat spin just past the same spot as Tagliani to bring the red flags back out again for the #27 to get towed back.
That left a little over half an hour of the scheduled practice session to go by the time the cars were able to once again stream out of pit lane, which instilled a new sense of urgency for the drivers to get to grips with the track regardless of the ALMS rubber.
The timing order was changing by the second, with Tony Kanaan, Marco Andretti and Will Power going top in quick succession. Power's lap of 1:07.6161s was six tenths faster than Sato's first half benchmark and he continued to push, slashing the top time another three tenths next time around with a 1:07.2977s before pitting, while Dario Franchitti used his first flying laps to slot into second place less than a tenth off Power.
Simon Pagenaud had just narrowly popped into second place when a third red flag came out, this time for Simona de Silvestro come to a stop out on track with less than 15 minutes remaining. By the time the #78 was recovered and the track was green once more, there were eight and a half minutes remaining and everyone was quickly out of pit lane to make the most of it.
There were no further red flags, although Hinchcliffe saved a major moment with a massing application of opposite lock, and Conway came to a stop on track at the end of the session. Will Power pushed his time down to 1:06.9880s with Scott Dixon almost instantly matching him with a time just a third of a tenth of a second back. Power pressed on and shaved another tenth off to lay down a challenge of 1:06.8632s at which point he called it a day and headed for pit lane as the chequered flag came out.
Marco Andretti finished the session on third just ahead of Simon Pagenaud and Graham Rahal, and James Jakes rounded out the top six for Dale Coyne Racing. The top 20 cars were covered by less than a second.
The next practice session is an hour long session at 8am local time (1pm BST) with qualifying scheduled for later in the day at 11am (4pm BST). Qualifying will be in the usual street/road course format, with the top six finishers in each of two groups in round 1 going through to the second round, which in turn feeds the top six through to the Firestone Fast Six pole shootout.
Full practice 1 session times