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Eric Boullier: No time frame for Jost Capito’s arrival at McLaren

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McLaren racing director Eric Boullier has confirmed that there is no fixed time frame for current Volkswagen motorsport chief Jost Capito to join the team.

As part of an ongoing restructuring and reorganization at McLaren, the team announced back in January that Capito would be leaving his role of director of motorsport at Volkswagen to become its new racing CEO this year.

No time frame was fixed in the initial announcement, with Capito continuing to work closely with Volkswagen in the meantime.

When asked by MotorSportsTalk if there was a set time for Capito to make the move over, Boullier confirmed that nothing had yet been firmed up.

“No, I don’t think there is a date yet. Maybe in the middle of the year, but I don’t know when,” Boullier said.

The Frenchman believes that Capito’s experience will prove invaluable in aiding McLaren’s ongoing drive to move up the grid, having endured a miserable 2015 season.

“The thing is that it’s based on experience,” Boullier said. “We would need anyway some improvement in this package, performance package, especially with Honda. I guess McLaren always we need to be better.

“I think most of the job has been done, but it’s more about the global, let’s say, co-ordination, at maybe a higher political level where I think Jost could bring a bunch of experience.”

Boullier was also asked what impact the departure of Honda head of motorsport Yasuhisa Arai will have on McLaren, and although he remained coy, he said it was inevitable that things would be different working with the incoming Yusuke Hasegawa.

“Well it’s still early days, but I guess everybody at this level of seniority may have his own way of dealing with the programme and the project, so we can expect different way of dealing with it,” Boullier said.

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.