Vandoorne among those who star in GP2, GP3 post-season testing

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The FIA GP2 and GP3 Series have got a few days of post-season testing in the books at Abu Dhabi following last weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. Both of their seasons are in the books – Fabio Leimer and Daniil Kvyat have captured the respective titles – and this test provided a look at some hoping to impress for 2014.

Chief among them is McLaren junior driver Stoffel Vandoorne of Belgium, who blitzed the Yas Marina circuit with a record lap of 1:48.657 on the third day of GP2 testing, driving for DAMS. The pole time set during the race weekend was American Alexander Rossi’s mark of 1:48.931. Vandoorne had not driven a GP2 car prior to the test, and raced in the World Series by Renault this year.

Giovanni Venturini (Trident) and Rio Haryanto (Caterham) also got into the 1:48 range during the afternoon session on day 3.

GP3 runner-up Facu Regalia got down to a 1:49.373 driving for the Barwa Addax operation in GP2. It would make sense for him to jump into GP2 with series champion Kvyat moving up to Scuderia Toro Rosso in 2014.

American Conor Daly’s waiting paid off and he had an opportunity with ART’s GP2 car. He only had one new set of tires available to him, which he used in the afternoon session. It marked his first GP2 outing since a one-off at Malaysia at the start of the year.

Swiss driver Patric Niederhauser led the GP3 sessions for Arden after eclipsing the mark set by ART’s Oliver Rowland in the morning of day 3. Niederhauser’s best time was a 1:55.372.

A few other names to note from GP3: Indy Lights driver Jack Hawksworth ended the third day of testing 10th fastest (1:55.991), fellow Englishman Dean Stoneman followed up his excellent Abu Dhabi race weekend with third place of 1:55.565, and Nissan GT Academy winner Jann Mardenborough, who competed at Le Mans this year in an LMP2 Zytek Nissan, was sixth quickest at 1:55.721.

Full results from GP2 and GP3 testing are linked here via their official websites.

Alex Palou fastest as several go off course during IndyCar practice at IMS

IndyCar Harvest GP practice
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Alex Palou paced the opening practice Thursday for the IndyCar Harvest GP at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

The Dale Coyne Racing rookie turned a 1-minute, 10.177-second lap around the 2.439-mile, 14-turn road course in his No. 55 Dallara-Honda.

Jack Harvey was second, followed by Colton Herta, points leader Scott Dixon and Max Chilton.

PRACTICE CHART: Click here to see the speed rundown from Thursday’s session

FRIDAY AT IMS: Details for watching Race 1 of the Harvest GP

Qualifying for Friday’s race will be at 6:20 p.m. ET Thursday on NBC Sports Gold.

Will Power, who won the pole position for the July 4 race at the track, spun off course with just more than a minute left in the session after the left rear of his No. 12 Dallara-Chevrolet made slight contact with the right front of Alexander Rossi’s No. 28 Dallara-Honda.

Power was among several drivers who went off track, but there were no damaged cars during the session. Marcus Ericsson missed the final 5 minutes of the practice after being penalized for causing a red flag with a Turn 8 spin.

Arrow McLaren SP drivers Pato O’Ward and Helio Castroneves, who is driving for Oliver Askew (who is recovering from concussion-like symptoms), also veered off course as did rookie Rinus VeeKay and Santino Ferrucci.

Seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson was in attendance at the session before racing Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway. Johnson will be driving a partial schedule of road and street courses in IndyCar next season for Chip Ganassi Racing.

“Literally, the smallest of details, I can pick up on,” Johnson told NBC Sports pit reporter Kevin Lee. “It’s been really nice today just to see how a session starts and obviously to jump on the radio and listen to how the systems work and then obviously you get into the car and the setup and such. I’m at ground zero right now, a 45-year-old rookie trying to learn my way into a new sport essentially.”

Johnson told Lee his sponsorship hunt to run a Ganassi car “has gone really well. The fact that I’m here today and ingrained so deeply in the team is a great sign of where things are going. Looking forward to getting behind the wheel of a car soon and hopefully having some announcements for the world to see soon, too.”

Fans were in attendance Thursday for the first time this season at IMS, which is allowed a limited crowd of 10,000 for its races this weekend.