ST. PETERSBURG, FLA. – Takuma Sato led the second round of practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ season opener, the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg.
Sato, who qualified second in this race a year ago, posted a flier of 1:02.5615 in the No. 14 ABC Supply Co. Honda for A.J. Foyt Racing. It occurred on his 22nd and final flying lap.
He was third in the morning session and this backed the pace up, even though he said the track seemed a little slower this year.
“I am very excited to back in St. Petersburg and excited to be on track,” said Sato, who has a best finish of fifth in four previous St. Pete races (2011). “The conditions were not very representative as usual for St. Petersburg, but still the car worked really well and we made good progress during this session. Let’s hope this continues and we will work on speed for (qualifying).”
Graham Rahal got the No. 15 National Guard RLL Honda up to second at 1:02.6122, with four-time defending St. Petersburg pole sitter Will Power third in the No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet at 1:02.6443.
Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud rounded out the top five. Practice 1 leader and defending race champion James Hinchcliffe was seventh.
The 45-minute practice session was peppered with red flag interruptions; Sebastian Saavedra, Juan Pablo Montoya, Josef Newgarden and Jack Hawksworth all had minor off-course excursions but nothing that produced serious damage.
EDITOR’S NOTE: NBCSN will air additional Dakar Rally highlights on Monday at 7 p.m. ET.
As it has done so for four decades, the 40th annual Dakar Rally – the most grueling test of man and machine anywhere – produced a number of surprise finishes and also several disappointments for drivers or riders who were expected to do well in the nearly 5,600-mile trek that began in Peru and continued through Bolivia and ending in Argentina.
NBCSN has aired highlights from all 14 stages (actually 13, because one stage was completely rained out) during the Rally’s two-week run, which concluded Saturday.
Here’s some of the “best of” highlights from the overall Rally highlights, followed by a quick guide that gives you wrapups to all 14 stages.
So, without further adieu, here’s NBCSN’s “best of” the 2018 Dakar Rally:
2018 Dakar Rally: Best of cars
2018 Dakar Rally: Best of bikes
2018 Dakar Rally: Best of trucks
2018 Dakar Rally: Best of quads
Lastly, here’s a day-by-day wrapup of how the Rally played out.
MORE: Dakar Rally daily stages schedule, NBCSN broadcast schedule, list of all competitors.
MORE: Stage 14 overall Rally wrapup
MORE: Stage 13 wrapup
MORE: Stage 12 wrapup
MORE: Stage 11 wrapup
MORE: Stage 10 wrapup
MORE: Stage 9 cancelled due to weather, impassible course conditions
MORE: Stage 8 wrapup
MORE: Stage 7 wrapup
MORE: Stage 6 wrapup
MORE: Stage 5 wrapup
MORE: Stage 4 wrapup
MORE: Stage 3 wrapup
MORE: Stage 2 wrapup
MORE: Stage 1 wrapup