IndyCar update: Halfway home in time-shortened Barber race

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The 100-minute, rain-delayed and now rain-shortened Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama is halfway home. A few moments of note have happened in the opening 25-plus circuits for the third round of the Verizon IndyCar Series season.

Polesitter Will Power led from the off, and stretched his lead north of five seconds running laps in the 1:19 range while others were in the 1:20s and 1:21s at Barber Motorsports Park.

But Power ran wide at Turn 5 and traversed through the gravel and grass, rejoining in second behind Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Hunter-Reay led until the second caution of the race prior to Lap 17, when Sebastien Bourdais made contact with Mikhail Aleshin into Turn 5, spinning the Russian rookie.

All cars except Oriol Servia, who’d made himself the guinea pig to switch from wets onto Firestone’s red alternate slick tires, took the opportunity to pit. On that sequence Helio Castroneves pitted in the wrong box; he was issued a stop-and-go¬†penalty for the infraction.

During the caution, Carlos Munoz spun out exiting Turn 5, damaging his Cinsay/AndrettiTV.com Honda entry beyond repair. Incidentally, the Colombian rookie was also involved in an incident under caution at St. Petersburg.

Bourdais got a drive-through penalty as well for his avoidable contact with Aleshin. Shortly after the restart, then led by Sebastian Saavedra who’d opted not to pit, Juan Pablo Montoya went off course through the Turn 10-11 sequence and brought a gravel-laden PPG Chevrolet back to the pits. It marred what had been a great opening sequence for him, rising to fourth and posting the same times as Power and Hunter-Reay up front.

Saavedra led at lap 28 from Hunter-Reay, Power, Scott Dixon and Marco Andretti. Bourdais had been sixth prior to his penalty ahead of James Hinchcliffe, Simon Pagenaud, Josef Newgarden and Justin Wilson. Tony Kanaan, who started 23rd and last, was up to 11th.

More to come the rest of this race on NBCSN.

Alonso enjoys maiden Toyota LMP1 test, ends as second-fastest rookie

Adrenal Media
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Fernando Alonso took his first step towards a possible entry to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2018 by testing an LMP1 car for the first time with Toyota in Bahrain on Sunday.

Two-time Formula 1 world champion Alonso has made no secret of his desire to race at Le Mans, having signed a deal to race in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January as preparation for a possible entry at the Circuit de la Sarthe.

Toyota confirmed after Saturday’s FIA World Endurance Championship finale in Bahrain that Alonso would be testing its TS050 Hybrid LMP1 car in the traditional rookie test on Sunday.

Alonso was given the car for the bulk of the five-hour test day following an initial shakedown by Sebastien Buemi, completing 113 laps in total – more than any other driver – and posting a best lap time of 1:43.013.

“It was a great day,” Alonso said. “Testing an LMP1 car is always a nice thing for any racing driver because these cars are amazing to drive. They are very consistent throughout a stint which is a positive thing.

“I have wanted to test a car like this for a long time now and today I could achieve that, so I am happy.”

However, Alonso did not finish as the fastest rookie, with that honor instead going to Pietro Fittipaldi, who was the final driver to drive the Porsche 919 Hybrid ahead of the closure of the German marque’s LMP1 program.

Alonso is now set to head back to Europe before a test in United Autosports’ LMP2 car on Tuesday as part of his Daytona preparation, before then returning to the Middle East for the F1 season finale in Abu Dhabi next weekend.