IndyCar »

IndyCar Sonoma: Hunter-Reay fastest in Saturday practice

Ryan Hunter-Reay was the fastest man at Sonoma Raceway after two 45-minute practice sessions on Saturday ahead of qualifying for Sunday's race.
CLICK: Full Practice 1 times | Full Practice 2 times | Full Combined Practice times

Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay will go into qualifying for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma with the fastest practice time of anyone following two 45-minute sessions on Saturday

Hunter-Reay, whose dwindling championship hopes took a knock last weekend with an early retirement at the Milwaukee Mile, laid down an early declaration of intent in the first session in the morning with a lap of 110.481mph (1:17.7150s) on the 2.385-mile, 12-turn road course in Sears Point, California.

That put him 0.1840s clear of second-place man Scott Dixon, whose Ganassi team mate Tony Kanaan was also in form in third place just under three tenths further back.

However the leading contenders for the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series title, Penske team mates Helio Castroneves and Will Power, were also looking strong in fourth and fifth places. Power has won here on three previous occasions in 2010, 2011 and 2013 and another victory this weekend would give him a welcome margin of comfort going into next week's season finale at Auto Club Speedway, Fontana.

The afternoon session saw times slower than they had been in the morning. Castroneves was fastest in the session with a time of 109.156mph (1:18.6582s) just 0.0338s ahead of the third Ganassi driver Ryan Briscoe, while Hunter-Reay was in third place ahead of Dixon and Power.

Only Dale Coyne Racing's Carlos Huertas improved his time in the afternoon; however he was still 21st on the timesheets for the session just ahead of Jack Hawksworth, and overall was still the slowest man of the day and 2.1248s off Hunter-Reay's benchmark.

There were no full course cautions during either of the practice sessions on Saturday, although several cars ended up making off-road excursions into the dust and dirt run-off areas. Power, Castroneves and Mike Conway were among those exploring the limits in the morning session, while James Hinchcliffe managed spins at both hairpins early in the afternoon session.

However it appeared to be Simon Pagenaud with the most problems, going off track in both of the practice sessions with what Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsport team manager Rob Edwards described as "a braking issue". Despite the recurring problem, the Frenchman - who is currently in third place in the championship just behind the Penske pair - was able to post the 16th fastest time in the morning and overall, and was 13th fastest in the afternoon session.

Heading into qualifying, teams using Chevrolet engines appear to have the whip hand at Sonoma, with Hunter-Reay the only Honda-powered car in the top six practice times. In total, eight of the top 12 times were set using Chevy units.

Earlier in the day, the engine manufacturer had confirmed that it had already clinched victory in the manufacturer's championship over Honda for the third successive year since returning to the IndyCar Series as a supplier.

"If you peel back the competition, there are two manufacturers with excellent teams that are working hard to outsmart and beat the other," said Derrick Walker, IndyCar's president of competition and operations. "It's one of the most competitive championships in motorsports with two seriously-competitive and equally-matched companies. It is one of our crown jewels of competition within the competition."

Qualifying takes place at 4.35pm Pacific Standard Time (12.35am BST on Sunday morning) and follows the familiar street/road course elimination round format in which the field is split into two groups of 11 and given ten minutes on track to set their best times. The top six from each group go through to round two which gets another ten minutes to select the top six cars to progress to the Firestone Fast Six pole shoot-out that sets the front three rows of the grid for the race.

On Sunday there is one final half-hour warm-up practice at 10am (6pm local time) ahead of the race itself which is due to get the green flag at 1.40pm (9.40pm BST). In the UK, the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will be shown live on the digital and cable subscription channel ESPN.

Full Practice 1 times
Full Practice 2 times
Full Combined Practice times



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Ryan Hunter-Reay navigates the Turn 9 Esses during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya celebrates winning the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg with third-place finisher Tony Kanaan (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power (left), driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6; and Tony Kanaan (right), driver of the #10 NTT Data Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6; celebrate with Juan Pablo Montoya, driver of the #2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet IndyCar V6, who raced to victory Sunday, March 29, 2015 winning the Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Power finished second. Kanaan finished third. Chevrolet took the top six places in the first race of the season. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power clash in the closing laps of the 2015 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal waits on pit lane prior to practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal apexes Turn 1 during practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal through the chicane during practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal enters Turn 11 during practice for the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, celebrates Saturday, March 28, 2015, after winning the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Power, the defending champion driver of the series, led his Chevrolet Team Penske teammates to a 1-2-3-4 qualifying sweep. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, celebrates Saturday, March 28, 2015, after winning the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Power, the defending champion driver of the series, led his Chevrolet Team Penske teammates to a 1-2-3-4 qualifying sweep. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, celebrates Saturday, March 28, 2015, after winning the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Power, the defending champion driver of the series, led his Chevrolet Team Penske teammates to a 1-2-3-4 qualifying sweep. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power, driver of the #1 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet V6 IndyCar, qualifies fastest Saturday, March 28, 2015, winning the pole position for Sunday`s Verizon IndyCar Series Grand Prix of St. Petersburg in St. Petersburg, Florida. Power, the defending champion driver of the series, led his Chevrolet Team Penske teammates to a 1-2-3-4 qualifying sweep. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Will Power celebrates winning pole position at St Petersburg - Saturday March 28 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning pole position at St Petersburg - Saturday March 28 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning pole position at St Petersburg - Saturday March 28 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning pole position at St Petersburg - Saturday March 28 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning pole position at St Petersburg - Saturday March 28 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Will Power celebrates winning pole position at St Petersburg - Saturday March 28 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

Start the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register before adding your comments.

Although the administrators and moderators of this website will attempt to keep all objectionable comments off these pages, it is impossible for us to review all messages. All messages express the views of the poster, and neither Crash Media Group nor Crash.Net will be held responsible for the content of any message. We do not vouch for or warrant the accuracy, completeness or usefulness of any message, and are not responsible for the contents of any message. If you find a message objectionable, please contact us and inform us of the problem or use the [report] function next to the offending post. Any message that does not conform with the policy of this service can be edited or removed with immediate effect.




© 1999 - 2015 Crash Media Group

The total or partial reproduction of text, photographs or illustrations is not permitted in any form.