Bourdais sets pace in opening Honda Indy Toronto practice

Updated: 

TORONTO – Indy cars may have been racing on the streets of Toronto’s Exhibition Place for three decades, but it was a bit of a different racetrack that greeted the Verizon IndyCar Series today in practice for the Honda Indy Toronto.

At the end of the initial 45-minute session this morning, it was a familiar winning name – Sebastien Bourdais – who led the way with a best lap of 1 minute, 2.9290 seconds (102.172 mph) on the 11-turn, 1.786-mile temporary street course.

Bourdais (No. 11 Team Hydroxycut-KVSH Racing Chevrolet) was closely followed by the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet of Scott Dixon (1:02.9738, 102.100 mph), Simon Pagenaud (No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Team Penske Chevrolet, 1:03.1246, 101.856 mph), Takuma Sato (No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda, 1:03.1925, 101.746 mph) and Graham Rahal (No. 15 Rousseau Metal Honda, 1:03.2636, 101.632 mph) to round out the top five.

CLICK HERE: Honda Indy Toronto practice 1 results

While the familiar location is hosting its 30th Indy car race weekend, the historic circuit features some minor changes this year due to commercial construction in the infield. It adds a new layer to the teams’ already challenging checklist. Among the alterations, pit lane has been shifted to the north side of the circuit (drivers’ left exiting the track), which in turn has increased the track length slightly.

Despite the adjustments, Pagenaud and Bourdais agree Toronto maintains all the ingredients that have made it a fan and driver favorite.

“It’s interesting because the last complex (Turns 9, 10 and 11) is brand new – a lot tighter than before, a lot slower as well, so it’s a lot more technical,” said Pagenaud, who leads the series points standings heading into Sunday’s race (2:30 p.m. ET, CNBC and Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network). “There’s also quite a bit of tarmac changes and for the first time we will see an off-camber corner, which is Turn 10. … I’m looking forward to it.”

Bourdais, a two-time Toronto race winner (2004 and 2014 Race 1), likes that the integrity of the entire Toronto track has been maintained. The slower final three corners, he believes, will add chances for more passes heading into Turn 1 at the iconic Princes’ Gate.

“I think it keeps the spirit of the track and it’s going to be harder than ever, so it’s all good,” Bourdais said. “It’s going to be much slower (exiting Turn 11) so you’re going to have a longer run from a slower speed, less aero push and all that, so I think it will help getting a better run and more passing opportunity toward Turn 1, which used to be kind of difficult.”

The Verizon IndyCar Series returns to the track for Practice 2 at 2 p.m. ET today (video streamed live at RaceControl.IndyCar.com). Verizon P1 Award qualifying for the Honda Indy Toronto begins at 1:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN. Coverage of the 85-lap race commences at 2:30 p.m. ET Sunday on CNBC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network, with a re-air at 5:30 p.m. on NBCSN.

Practice 1 results are below:

Rank

Car

Driver Name

C/A/E/T

Time

Speed

Diff

Gap

Best Lap

Total Laps

1

11

Bourdais, Sebastien

D/C/C/F

01:02.9290

102.172

--.----

--.----

11

18

2

9

Dixon, Scott

D/C/C/F

01:02.9738

102.100

0.0448

0.0448

14

17

3

22

Pagenaud, Simon

D/C/C/F

01:03.1246

101.856

0.1956

0.1508

19

19

4

14

Sato, Takuma

D/H/H/F

01:03.1925

101.746

0.2635

0.0679

14

24

5

15

Rahal, Graham

D/H/H/F

01:03.2636

101.632

0.3346

0.0711

20

22

6

12

Power, Will

D/C/C/F

01:03.3209

101.540

0.3919

0.0573

21

22

7

10

Kanaan, Tony

D/C/C/F

01:03.3478

101.497

0.4188

0.0269

12

24

8

28

Hunter-Reay, Ryan

D/H/H/F

01:03.3984

101.416

0.4694

0.0506

12

17

9

3

Castroneves, Helio

D/C/C/F

01:03.4914

101.267

0.5624

0.0930

9

17

10

7

Aleshin, Mikhail

D/H/H/F

01:03.5185

101.224

0.5895

0.0271

20

21

11

98

Rossi, Alexander (R)

D/H/H/F

01:03.5561

101.164

0.6271

0.0376

17

20

12

27

Andretti, Marco

D/H/H/F

01:03.6457

101.022

0.7167

0.0896

21

22

13

2

Montoya, Juan Pablo

D/C/C/F

01:03.6857

100.958

0.7567

0.0400

13

19

14

83

Kimball, Charlie

D/C/C/F

01:03.7201

100.904

0.7911

0.0344

10

18

15

21

Newgarden, Josef

D/C/C/F

01:03.7352

100.880

0.8062

0.0151

17

17

16

20

Pigot, Spencer (R)

D/C/C/F

01:03.9273

100.577

0.9983

0.1921

21

21

17

26

Munoz, Carlos

D/H/H/F

01:03.9326

100.568

1.0036

0.0053

18

18

18

19

Filippi, Luca

D/H/H/F

01:03.9752

100.501

1.0462

0.0426

20

20

19

5

Hinchcliffe, James

D/H/H/F

01:04.0107

100.446

1.0817

0.0355

18

18

20

18

Daly, Conor (R)

D/H/H/F

01:04.2006

100.149

1.2716

0.1899

18

21

21

41

Hawksworth, Jack

D/H/H/F

01:04.2346

100.096

1.3056

0.0340

12

19

22

8

Chilton, Max (R)

D/C/C/F

01:05.5153

98.139

2.5863

1.2807

25

25

(R) Rookie (C)hassis: D=Dallara | (A)erokit: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (E)ngine: C=Chevy, H=Honda | (T)ire: F=Firestone

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