DETROIT – Past achievement on the Raceway at Belle Isle Park meant for present success in the opening Verizon IndyCar Series practice for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix presented by Lear.
Previous race winners Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon and Graham Rahal set the pace in the opening 45-minute session today on the 2.35-mile, 14-turn temporary street course in preparation for the only doubleheader race weekend on the 2018 calendar.
CHEVROLET DETROIT GRAND PRIX: Practice 1 results
Bourdais, driving the No. 18 Team SealMaster Honda for Dale Coyne Racing with Vasser-Sullivan, was quickest with a lap of 1 minute 17.8545 seconds (108.664 mph). The four-time Indy car champion is a two-time Detroit winner (2015-Race 2, 2016-Race 1).
“It’s always a bit the same, but we see the speed and the load that we feel on the car is reduced, so it’s harder to switch on the tires and get them to be in the zone. It’s definitely takes a lot of effort to get up to speed with it, but it seems to be pretty quick from the (No.) 18 camp. It’s better than being 18th or 19th, that’s for sure.
“You never know, the track changes a lot here, but there’s not many better ways to start the weekend.”
Dixon, in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda, was second on the timesheet with a lap of 1:17.9168 (108.577 mph). The 2012 Detroit race winner is currently mired in a 13-race winless streak; his longest since going 16 races without a victory from the last two events of 2013 and through the first 14 of the 2014 season.
Rahal became the first driver to sweep the Detroit doubleheader, when he doubled up on wins last year. He was third in practice at 1:17.9830 (108.485 mph) in the No. 15 United Rentals Honda.
“The car was really good. We’ve got the quickest car, didn’t quite get a lap in. Just got to put it together. We tried to get a couple runs at the end but everybody got kind of balked by the yellows there a little bit. But the car’s really good, so hopefully this afternoon we’ll be able to build on it a little bit.”
Santino Ferrucci, making his Verizon IndyCar Series debut this weekend with Dale Coyne Racing, was an impressive sixth in the practice. The 20-year-old Formula One test and development driver for Haas F1 turned a top lap of 1:18.3117 (108.030 mph) in the No. 19 Paysafe Honda.
With the doubleheader format, the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule takes on a different look than normal at road and street courses. A second 45-minute practice starts at 3:10 p.m. ET today, followed by pit stop practice at 4 p.m. Both stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, youtube.com/indycar and the INDYCAR Mobile app.
Instead of the traditional three rounds of knockout qualifying, there will be a 30-minute qualifying session for each race, with the 23-car field split into two groups. Each group receives 12 minutes of track time, with the fastest driver from the two groups earning the Verizon P1 Award pole position and fastest from the other group earning the second starting position.
Qualifying for Race 1 starts at 10:55 a.m. Saturday, with qualifying for Race 2 at 10:45 a.m. Sunday. The qualifying sessions will also stream live on RaceControl.IndyCar.com, youtube.com/indycar and the INDYCAR Mobile app.
ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network have live coverage of the 70-lap races, beginning at 3:30 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.