Takuma Sato tops rain-affected open test at IMS
2017 Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato topped the timesheet at the open test at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a rain-affected day with a top speed of 226.993mph.
Full-time and veteran drivers were set to hit the 2.5mile oval for the first few hours but after just 15 minutes of track tim,e rain arrived which meant a lengthy four-hour delay.
Once the band of rain had cleared and the jet driers had got the track back into a suitable state, drivers hit the tarmac once more in what was a relatively clear session. Max Chilton lost the engine in his #59 Carlin-Chevrolet which was the only significant stoppage of the afternoon.
Light rain returned in the final 20 minutes of the first session which allowed Sato to keep his #30 Mi-Jack entry as the fastest car of the day. Ed Carpenter followed closely behind on a 226.414mph in the #20 entry with team-mate Spencer Pigot less than 1mph behind. 2018 Indy 500 winner Will Power ended the session fourth with a 226.225mph.
It was time for the drivers who need an oval refresher which included Fernando Alonso and Helio Castroneves to hit the track, as well as rookies such as Colton Herta, Felix Rosenqvist and Marcus Ericsson to get their eye in and complete the Rookie Orientation Program.
Veteran IndyCar driver Oriol Servia also joined the circuit for Arrow Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in the #77 car, however, it is still yet to be confirmed if he has signed a deal with the team for the Indy 500.
Rookie drivers are required to go through three stages of speed around the circuit at steady speeds from 210mph, 215mph and then 220mph. Drivers taking the refresher tests only complete the final two different speed runs.
Alonso suffered a technical glitch as he first took the track in his #66 McLaren-Chevrolet, the Spaniard stuttered to a halt in the warm-up lane in Turn 2 with what supposed to be a battery problem and was eventually towed back to pit-lane after the caution was thrown. Once he got going he ended the session in ninth.
All of the rookies and drivers who needed refreshers except Alonso completed their mandatory programmes and were allowed to be let loose and go at full speed for the remainder of the session.
Harding Steinbrenner Racing's Colton Herta later set the fifth fastest speed of the day after completing his rookie program with a 226.108mph.
Sato and Castroneves also topped the no-tow speeds with only a handful of drivers who speed clocked at 222mph, but it was Herta who was the fastest with a 223mph.
The rookie and refresher session also ended early due to more rain coming into the circuit. A final session for all 29 cars was cancelled due to daylight fading.