28 April 2012
Brazil - Qualifying times
Mike Conway popped to the top with a lap of 1:22.3188s with a little over four minutes remaining, and then Josef Newgarden was the first to duck under the 1:22s mark with a lap of 1:21.8607 ahead of Ryan Briscoe and Dario Franchittti as the serious runners set the times tumbling.
Franchitti knocked the rookie off the top with his next lap achieving 1:21.5667s and then headed to the pits with his job done and eager to get ready for round 2 which followed immediately afterwards. Hunter-Reay leapt up to second place with his final flying lap ahead of Newgarden and Conway also shot up to fourth ahead of Briscoe and Rahal.
Once again, the local fans had to face disappointment as Helio Castroneves didn't make it round to the start/finish line in time for a final run before the chequered flag was shown, leaving him mired down in a disappointing 10th place and some way off making the cut.
Takuma Sato did not take part in the group as scheduled because of his earlier engine failure in practice 2. Even if he had, he would have got a ten-place grid penalty for the unscheduled engine change and likely have started out on the back row in any case.
1. Dario Franchitti Ganassi-Honda 111.928mph 1:21.567s (3 laps)
2. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti-Chevrolet 111.716mph 1:21.721s + 0.155s (5 laps)
3. Josef Newgarden SFHR-Honda 111.526mph 1:21.861s + 0.294s (5 laps)
4. Mike Conway AJ Foyt-Honda 111.339mph 1:21.998s + 0.431s (6 laps)
5. Ryan Briscoe Penske-Chevrolet 111.322mph 1:22.010s + 0.444s (5 laps)
6. Graham Rahal Ganassi-Honda 111.231mph 1:22.078s + 0.511s (6 laps)
7. EJ Viso Andretti-Chevrolet 111.146mph 1:22.140s + 0.574s (5 laps)
8. Charlie Kimball Ganassi-Honda 111.069mph 1:22.197s + 0.631s (6 laps)
9. James Jakes Dale Coyne-Honda 110.818mph 1:22.384s + 0.817s (6 laps)
10. Helio Castroneves Penske-Chevrolet 110.777mph 1:22.414s + 0.848s (5 laps)
11. Ed Carpenter ECR-Chevrolet 110.072mph 1:22.942s + 1.376s (7 laps)
12. Oriol Servia Dreyer & Reinbold-Lotus 109.401mph 1:23.451s + 1.884s (6 laps)
13. Takuma Sato Rahal Letterman Lanigan-Honda No time
Round 2 - Top 12
The twelve drivers through from round 1 were Will Power, Scott Dixon, James Hinchcliffe, Justin Wilson, Tony Kanaan and Marco Andretti from group 1, and Dario Franchitti, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Josef Newgarden, Mike Conway, Ryan Briscoe and Graham Rahal from group 2 - making it a six-all draw between Honda and Chevrolet cars at this stage.
With the session length now down to ten minutes, there was only a minute's wait before Justin Wilson set out to put in his qualifying laps before the track got too busy. Even before he completed his first flying laps, the pits were roused and the rest of the field started to emerge.
Wilson's first lap was a decent 1:23.4996s but clearly the times would rapidly tumble from there: Wilson's own follow-up lap wiped out nearly two seconds and set an impressive new benchmark of 1:21.7994s for the rest of the drivers to shoot for.
Will Power was certainly pushing, and ended up sideways and locked up in the bumpy rundown to turn 11 on his first serious lap. That allowed Dario Franchitti the opportunity to go top of the timings with a lap of 1:21.5987s ahead of Wilson with Conway, Hinchcliffe and Hunter-Reay next up with two minutes to go.
But that was just the start of the fiercest moments of competition so far, with Will Power popping into second behind Franchitti on his next run and then James Hinchcliffe (1:21.5856s) and Scott Dixon (1:21.5869s) besting them both to briefly take the top two spots. Power promptly went faster still to set a lap of 1:21.2718 that was clearly going to be the fastest of the round, at which point he headed to pit lane: job done.
Hinchliffe, Dixon and Franchitti were also safe, and Wilson shaved his time a little more to secure fifth place ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay, while Graham Rahal was just the wrong side of the cut along with Mike Conway and Josef Newgarden.
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