As could be expected, 2012 IndyCar title rivals Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay paced the timesheets for the second free practice session at the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. The big surprise, though, was Simona de Silvestro in third.
The Swiss driver, who now races for KV Racing Technology and with Chevrolet engines (after being with HVM Racing and Lotus last year, where her engine was the main handicap), followed up her seventh place lap in the morning quite nicely in the afternoon.
“Last year we came here and knew it would be a struggle,” she said. “This year, we came after a good Barber test and showed well right away. We were quick this morning but still had more work to do. To know we can be up there with these guys. I have to thank my sponsors of Nuclear Clean Air Energy, as they stuck with me. Hopefully we will have a good race to be proud of.”
Of course, the proverbial big dogs, in three-time defending St. Petersburg pole winner Power and reigning series champion Hunter-Reay were always likely to set the pace.
“We’re still fighting the normal things handling-wise,” said Power. “We got a good lap in early. We weren’t that good on old tires. The Honda guys seem on the back foot, but I still think it will be a tough fight.”
“It’s early still, with the track rubbering in,” added Hunter-Reay. “It’s a pretty big gap to close to will. It’s nice to be up there but it’s close throughout. If you get one corner wrong you’re eighth from second.”
Oriol Servia (Panther DRR Chevrolet) and Takuma Sato (A.J. Foyt Racing Honda) completed the top five on the day.
Chip Ganassi Racing struggled; Charlie Kimball clocked in 13th while the usually front-running Target entries were just 17th (Dario Franchitti) and 19th (Scott Dixon) in practice two.
Combined times from Practice 1 and 2 are below:
Rank Car Driver Team C/E/T Time 1. 12 Will Power Penske D/C/F 1:01.4467 2. 1 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti D/C/F 1:01.6252 3. 78 Simona de Silvestro KV D/C/F 1:01.6895 4. 22 Oriol Servia Panther DRR D/C/F 1:01.7650 5. 14 Takuma Sato Foyt D/H/F 1:01.7703 6. 3 Helio Castroneves Penske D/C/F 1:01.7853 7. 11 Tony Kanaan KV D/C/F 1:01.8087 8. 27 James Hinchcliffe Andretti D/C/F 1:02.0039 9. 55 Tristan Vautier Schmidt Peterson D/H/F 1:02.0459 10. 25 Marco Andretti Andretti D/C/F 1:02.0877 11. 16 James Jakes RLL D/H/F 1:02.1030 12. 77 Simon Pagenaud Schmidt Hamilton D/H/F 1:02.1134 13. 83 Charlie Kimball Novo Nordisk Ganassi D/H/F 1:02.1962 14. 15 Graham Rahal RLL D/H/F 1:02.3596 15. 5 EJ Viso Venezuela/Andretti/HVM D/C/F 1:02.3622 16. 19 Justin Wilson Coyne D/H/F 1:02.3833 17. 10 Dario Franchitti Target Chip Ganassi D/H/F 1:02.4086 18. 7 Sebastien Bourdais Dragon D/C/F 1:02.4166 19. 9 Scott Dixon Target Chip Ganassi D/H/F 1:02.5031 20. 98 Alex Tagliani Barracuda/BHA D/H/F 1:02.5098 21. 67 Josef Newgarden Fisher Hartman D/H/F 1:02.5305 22. 6 Sebastian Saavedra Dragon D/C/F 1:02.5581 23. 4 JR Hildebrand Panther D/C/F 1:02.9057 24. 20 Ed Carpenter Carpenter D/C/F 1:03.1420 25. 18 Ana Beatriz Coyne D/H/F 1:03.9670