Hunter-Reay leads Toronto IndyCar practice

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A pair of Americans led the IZOD IndyCar Series timesheets for its only weekend north of the border this year, as defending Honda Indy Toronto winner Ryan Hunter-Reay edged Josef Newgarden in IndyCar’s 90-minute lone practice before qualifying.

Hunter-Reay, driver of the No. 1 DHL Chevrolet for Andretti Autosport, lapped the 1.755-mile street circuit in 1:00.6082, with Newgarden in the No. 67 Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda next up at 1:00.6851.

Ryan Briscoe (No. 4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet) had his best session of the season in third, 1:00.6890, ahead of rookie Tristan Vautier and Marco Andretti. Vautier returns to orange, red and black Visit Florida colors for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports after four weekends in the blue and white of Coastal.com for the No. 55 Honda.

Canadians James Hinchcliffe and Alex Tagliani clocked in 11th and 14th on home soil. Mike Conway, returning in Dale Coyne Racing’s second car, was only 23rd of 24 cars.

Most of the session was spent practicing standing starts in preparation for race one of the weekend on Saturday, while Sunday’s race will have rolling starts.

There were two red flags, one for Will Power stopped in Turn 3, and the second for Dario Franchitti after he brushed the wall in Turn 5 and stopped in Turn 6.

SMP Racing unveils BR1 LMP1 car in Bahrain ahead of WEC entry

SMP Racing
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SMP Racing has publicly unveiled its new BR1 LMP1 car that will enter the FIA World Endurance Championship from 2018.

SMP Racing opted to pull out of racing full-time in the WEC for 2017 in order to focus on its preparations for an LMP1 entry the following year, with the decision being taken long in advance of Porsche’s exit announcement.

Officials from the Russian-backed SMP Racing, as well as drivers including recent IndyCar racer Mikhail Aleshin (sporting a broken arm in a sling), Vitaly Petrov and Sergey Sirotkin were all on hand to unveil the car on Friday in the Bahrain International Circuit paddock ahead of this weekend’s WEC finale.

The BR Engineering BR1 features a Dallara chassis and an AER engine, and has completed over 2,000 km in private testing, with further running set to be completed in the coming weeks.

SMP Racing plans to field two cars in the WEC’s LMP1 class next year, and is keen to get as many Russian drivers as possible in the seats from its wide pool of talent.

Even with Porsche’s departure from LMP1, the class is set to feature a bigger field thanks to the increased number of privateers moving up, with Toyota set to remain the sole manufacturer in the class.