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Pagenaud sets Friday pace in Toronto

Simon Pagenaud was fastest on Friday ahead of Helio Castroneves at the end of two practice sessions for this weekend's Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader.
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Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsport's Simon Pagenaud was the fastest man on track on Friday on the 1.7-mile, 11-turn Toronto street circuit ahead of this weekend's Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader event.

Pagenaud set a time of 1:00.0084s (105.285mph) to pip Penske's Helio Castroneves to the top spot by just 0.0134s in the second 45-minute practice session held in the afternoon.

“It's always a challenge in Toronto because of the different tarmacs," said Pagenaud, referring to the asphalt and tarmac sections of the circuit.. "Practice went well for us. Our sponsor, Oculus, is a Canadian company so it's great to shine here. The car is beautiful, similar to Houston, so I feel confident."

The Frenchman had taken the top spot early in the session, but had been shuffled back down the rankings by the time he posted his best lap just after the midway point of the 45-minute practice, a time to which no one quite had the answer for the rest of the session that remained.

It nonetheless was a close-run affair, with a further three drivers - Ganassi's Scott Dixon, Penske's Will Power and Andretti Autosport's local here James Hinchcliffe all posting times within a tenth of a second of Pagenaud's benchmark.

20 of the 23 drivers at work in Toronto on Friday were within a second of the top time, with Luca Filippi just missing out in his second weekend appearance of the 2014 season for Rahal Letterman Lanigan. He finished just ahead of Mike Conway, also returning to action this weekend for Ed Carpenter Racing.

In the earlier morning session, Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing's Josef Newgarden found clear space toward the end of the 45 minutes to set the pace with a time of 1:00.238s two tenths ahead of Power. However, Newgarden was not able to improve on that in the afternoon and dropped to seventh place in the overall combined times for Friday.

"It's a strong start for us, but the name of the game is trying to figure out how to keep it that way," Newgarden had said after the morning practice. "It's promising to start, but we have to keep it up."

The morning session had run uninterrupted despite a wild moment for Power through one of the righthanders that the championship leader did well to save. That meant it wasn't until the afternoon session that the first red flag incident of the day materialised, and it came when second-place man Castroneves came to a halt in turn 8 complaining that the #3 Penske car had no power. The team suspected a battery issue, and the session was halted while the car was retrieved by the safety crew.

Practice did restart, but almost immediately there was a second red flag this time for Ganassi's Ryan Briscoe spinning and stalling in turn 1. That brought the session to an end, allowing the drivers time for standing start practice ahead of Saturday's first race.

Qualifying for the first race of the weekend will take place on Saturday morning at 10am local time (3pm BST) using the familiar elimination round format for setting the grid for street and road courses. The 85-lap race itself is set to get underway at 3.55pm local time (8.55pm BST) on Saturday afternoon.

Sunday will see the same times for qualifying and the second race of the weekend. However, qualifying for race 2 will consist of drivers setting their best lap times in a 12-minute track session rather than the elimination system; race 2 will also feature a rolling start rather than a standing start to proceedings when the green flag drops.

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Related Pictures

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Josef Newgarden walks the paddock prior to practice for the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Josef Newgarden in action (Photo by: Eric Anderson for IndyCar Media)
Simon Pagenaud in action (Photo by: Eric Anderson for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe back in the car at Road America - September 29 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe back in the car at Road America - September 29 2015. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon sprays the champagne in Victory Circle following his win in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon is congratulated by Dario Franchitti after winning the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon with a victory kiss from his wife, Emma, following clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates his victory in the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship. (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon wins the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Championship, his fourth series championship of his career. (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, August 30, 2015, winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Chevrolet also wins its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Ernie Masche/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon (left), driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 30, 2015, after winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Joining him on the podium is Charlie Kimball, driver of the #83 Novolog Flexpen Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6 who finished third. Chevrolet won its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag Sunday, August 30, 2015, winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Chevrolet also wins its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Perry Nelson/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon, driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, August 30, 2015, winning the final Verizon IndyCar Series race of the season and the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series Driver`s Championship at Sonoma Raceway in Sonoma, California. Chevrolet also wins its fourth consecutive Verizon IndyCar Series Manufacturer`s Championship. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Scott Dixon - 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series champion - Target Chip Ganassi Racing (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates after winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates after winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon celebrates after winning the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma and clinching the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series championship at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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