There was no surprise when it came to the identity of the man atop the timesheets at the end of Saturday's 45 minute practice session at St Petersburg in Florida ahead of this weekend's season opener to the 2015 Verizon IndyCar Series.

Defending champion Will Power repeated his Friday feat and put the #1 Penske car out in front with a lap of 105.603mph (1:01.3621s) 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit, slightly faster than he'd managed 24 hours earlier.

Full times from Saturday practice at St Petersburg

Related Articles

Once again it was a Penske trio at the top of the times, although this time it was the team's new boy Simon Pagenaud who came closest to stealing Power's thunder. Having spent the first half of the session out in front, Pagenaud was subsequently pipped to the honours and ended up 0.1214s off the Australian's benchmark time.

"A lot of people expect really high results out of this first race, but we have to be reasonable in the way we think about things," said Pagenaud, who understandably is taking a little time to settle into his new team after switching from Schmidt Peterson Motorsports over the winter.

"It may take longer than [Power] because we haven't been together before," the Frenchman pointed out. "We should be patient. We are there on pace and are fast enough. If everything stays smooth, we should be up there."

Just as he had been on Friday, Helio Castroneves ended the session up in third place. However the Penske squad was denied a 1-2-3-4 lockout, and this time it was AJ Foyt Racing's Takuma Sato who was the man to stop Penske and Chevrolet from sweeping the top spots. Last year's pole winner was just under 15 hundredths of a second off Power's best lap of the session.

That left Juan Pablo Montoya slightly detached from the rest of his Penske playmates, but he was still in fifth place for the session and within two tenths of Power just ahead of Andretti Autosport's Ryan Hunter-Reay, who rallied from a disappointing Friday to put himself right back into contention.

There's no question that he, Sato and the rest of the Honda-badged teams are somewhat up against it, however. Although the manufacturer finished the Saturday practice with four cars in the top 12 which was a slight improvement on Friday, the bottom of the timesheets made for rather worrying reading with all six of the slowest times set by Honda runners.

After finishing Friday's rain-curtailed track activities in sixth place, Sato's new team mate Jack Hawksworth will be disappointed to find himself languishing down in this neighbourhood in 20th place, just ahead of Dale Coyne Racing's Carlos Huertas.

Simona de Silvestro was also taking some time to readjust to being back in an IndyCar after a year away from the series, and the Swiss driver was just over a second off Power's time and down in 22nd position as she returned for a one-off appearance with Andretti Autosport.

That was still comfortably ahead of rookie driver Gabby Chaves in the #98 Bryan Herta Autosport car, while Francesco Dracone was worryingly far off the pace as he brought up the rear in the second DCR car, three and a half seconds off Power's pace and almost two a quarter seconds off Chaves.

The 31-year-old Italian was last in an IndyCar event in 2010, when he competed for Conquest Racing in two road course events at Mid-Ohio and Sonoma. He's been in the car and testing with the team at Barber Motorsports Park and Sebring, but is nonetheless finding the bumpy, twisty nature of the temporary street course at St Petersburg quite a handful at present.

Practice saw two red flags, the first to retrieve the KV Racing technology car of Sebastien Bourdais from the turn 4 exit road, and the second just minutes from the end when Tony Kanaan also went for an exploratory off-track tour of the run-off area.

Saturday's practice session was the final track opportunity for the drivers before they undergo the three-round elimination qualifying process on Saturday afternoon ahead of Sunday's Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg.

The weather forecasts look clear of the rain that interrupted Friday's track time for the drivers, which has seen the second practice washed out by intermittent rain.

Full times from Saturday practice at St Petersburg