In the round-up: Two-times Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato led the times on the opening day of practice as Ganassi put in a strong showing.
Sato leads Indy 500 practice as Enerson completes rookie orientation
After rain tore up Tuesday’s schedule of two practice sessions, the 107th edition of the Indianapolis 500 finally got underway at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday with eight consecutive hours of track action.
The revised schedule had to accomodate some of Tuesday’s planned activities, meaning the first 75 minutes of practice was dedicated to installation laps for the IndyCar field, then straight after there were 105 minutes dedicated to rookie orientation. Having lapping at the required pace during that period, Abel Motorsports’ RC Enerson was then allowed to participate in the remaining five hours of practice that was open to all 34 drivers.
Ganassi’s Scott Dixon went fastest almost straight away, immediately beating the benchmark practice pace from 2022 before boost levels were introduced in later sessions. He remained on top for almost three-and-a-half hours before team mate Sato went fastest by 0.0453 seconds, setting a lap in 369.246278kph (229.439mph).
Alex Palou and Marcus Ericsson completed a top four of Ganassi’s Honda-powered cars, which was eventually broken with just over half an hour to go by Colton Herta (Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian). Santino Ferrucci (AJ Foyt Racing) went third fastest and 0.0792s off Sato ten minutes later as temperatures lowered, making him the top Chevrolet-powered driver.
Callum Ilott had a tough day for Juncos Hollinger, a second off the pace in 34th and last place. Only the top 33 drivers will secure places on the grid when qualifying takes place this weekend.
Rahal’s IndyCar future may lie beyond his father’s team
Graham Rahal prompted speculation over his IndyCar future, having now gone almost six years without a win with his father Bobby’s Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team.
“Do I see myself leaving at the end of the year? When my deal is up, do I see myself retiring? No, I don’t. But I’m also not going to sit here and not run up front when I know I can compete with those guys. And I don’t say that arrogantly or with over-confidence,” Rahal said on Tuesday.
“I don’t want to sit here and keep running around in 20th. That’s not a selfish thing, it’s actually the opposite because for me eventually you’ve got to look internally and go: Am I the piece of the puzzle that’s not really clicking here? Do I need to step away and bring in a different driver?
“But the flip side of that is all of our sponsors [at RLL] are long-term deals, all of the sponsors have my name in the contract, so where am I going to go?”
Euroformula reinstates Mugello round
When the Formula 3-level Euroformula championship announced its 2023 calendar last September, it featured Mugello as the seventh round of eight.
But in January it dropped the Italian track for the chance to include May’s Pau Grand Prix instead. Then two weeks before the grand prix it pulled out of racing on the streets of France due to not running on the biofuel the event organisers had desired.
So Euroformula went looking for a replacement eighth round, and has now landed back where they started having announced they will race in Mugello on 30th September and 1st October as originally planned.
Emilia-Romagna flooding impacts sport beyond F1
It is not just Formula 1’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix that has had to be called off due to extreme wet weather in Italy, including at the Imola track they were set to race at, as the rallying scene has also been impacted.
This weekend’s Rally Adriatico, based out of the walled city of Urbino actually south of the Emilia-Romagna region and part of the national gravel championship, has been called off due to safety concerns. The rally organiser is working with the Italian motorsport federation to find a new deate for the event.
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Happy birthday to Gombosco!
On this day in motorsport
20 years ago today Michael Schumacher won the Austrian Grand Prix despite a brief fire during a refuelling stop