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Pagenaud leads Sonoma Thursday test day

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SONOMA, Calif. – Simon Pagenaud was fastest during Thursday’s six hours of testing for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma, as Team Penske set the pace on a day where finding grip and managing limited sets of tires were a pair of difficult tasks.

Pagenaud’s best time of 1:16.6511 around the 2.385-mile Sonoma Raceway track was about four tenths of a second off his pole time from last year.

All the best times were set in the second four-hour session, after there was only limited running in the first two hour session.

Sebastien Bourdais and Alexander Rossi were the two best Honda drivers behind the Penske trio of Pagenaud, Helio Castroneves and Will Power.

Takuma Sato had a heavy accident in his No. 26 Honda for Andretti Autosport at Turn 6, which brought out one of several red flags. He was OK, but his car was not with heavy left rear damage.

Combined times are below.

More to follow.

Ferrari teammates Vettel and Raikkonen fastest in rainy final practice at Australian GP

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MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen went one-two in the final practice session ahead of qualifying at the water-logged Australian Grand Prix on Saturday.

Vettel set a best-lap time of 1 minute, 26.067 seconds, more than 2.4 seconds faster than his teammate in second.

Both Ferrari drivers switched from their intermediate tires to the super-fast, ultra-soft tires for the final few laps of the session, testing conditions on the track after a day-long downpour left it slick and filled with small puddles.

Mercedes drivers Valtteri Bottas and Lewis Hamilton did not opt to try out their soft tires, sticking to the intermediates for the entire session. They had the seventh- and eighth-fastest times, after topping the leaderboard in practice in dry conditions on Friday.

The heavy rains subsided by early afternoon, allowing the track to rapidly dry during the third practice session and making conditions safe for drivers to test their soft tires.

Still, only a few drivers completed a timed lap with the softer compounds, with Mercedes, Red Bull and most of the others staying with their intermediates.

Sauber’s Marcus Ericsson had the third-fastest time of the session on ultrasoft tires, followed by Red Bull’s Max Verstappen on intermediates.

Hamilton remains the favorite to capture his fifth straight pole position at the Australian Grand Prix in qualifying later Saturday. He had the fastest laps on ultrasoft tires in the two practice sessions on Friday, though Verstappen was right behind him.

Verstappen and Vettel both slid on the slick track early in the third practice session, but maintained control and completed their runs without incident.

Verstappen’s teammate, Daniel Ricciardo, had the sixth-fastest time of the session. The Australian’s chances of winning his fifth career Grand Prix on his home track in Melbourne took a hit late Friday when he was assessed a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

The Australian driver was penalized for driving too fast under red-flag conditions during Friday’s second practice session because of debris on the track.