After threatening to break through as fastest driver on Thursday, Simon Pagenaud of Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports was able to complete the task in a damp, mixed condition third practice for the Grand Prix of Indianapolis Friday morning. Despite morning showers, the Verizon IndyCar Series and Friday schedule kicked off without delay.
The driver of the No. 77 Charter Communications/Oculus Honda clocked in at 1:23.1597, some 13 seconds slower than Thursday’s times in the dry.
Fellow Charter-sponsored driver Jack Hawksworth, in the No. 98 BHA/BBM with Curb-Agajanian that is also sporting another new sponsor this weekend, was second at 1:23.1732.
James Hinchcliffe, Will Power and Carlos Munoz completed the top five.
Power had an eventful session with a pair of spins, neither of which damaged the car. Meanwhile Mikhail Aleshin, one of Thursday’s practice stars, had a spin to end the session and another on-track moment around Sebastien Bourdais, his Barber nemesis, at exit to Turn 7 earlier in the session. Both went off course and recovered, with Bourdais coming out of Turn 14 ahead of the Russian rookie.
Ryan Briscoe also had a moment in Turn 4, and his off caused the first red flag of the 45-minute session.
Firestone Fast Six qualifying commences at 2 p.m. EDT.
Coming off his best Supercross season to date, Enzo Lopes has re-signed with Muc-Off / ClubMX Yamaha and will race for the team in 2024. The deal is for Supercross only.
Lopes debuted in the Supercross series in 2019 on a Suzuki and scored his first top-10 finishes in his last two starts of that season. Showing consistent improvement, he earned six top-10s in eight Main events the following year and finished fifth in the 250 East standings. In 2022, he scored his first top-five at Daytona and finished in the top five in points again.
“I am happy to be returning to ClubMX for another season,” Lopes said in a press release. “It is like family to me there and that is very important. Although I had many options, staying where I am makes the most sense for many reasons. The bikes are great, the people are great, the tracks are amazing, and I am surrounded by people that care about me. We all want to win and together we will get there.”
While he improved his season-best performance by only one position this year, it was nevertheless a breakout season. Lopes barely missed the podium three times in 2023 with fourth-place finishes at San Diego, Seattle, and Denver.
His strong performance him rumored to be speaking with factory teams.
“We could see the growth from Enzo every time he gets on the bike,” said team owner Brandon Haas. “We all knew it was just a matter of time before he would be noticed by everyone, and we are proud of him on many levels. He had some heat race wins and qualified fastest at three events this season. It would be hard not to be noticed going that fast. He had a big decision to make and we are glad he chose to stay with us at ClubMX.”
Lopes had three podium finishes in heat races this year, including a win preceding his fourth-place finish in Denver.