Bourdais leads first practice as field adapts to Toronto track changes

Getty Images

TORONTO – Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 11 Team Hydroxycut KVSH Racing Chevrolet, a renowned street course master and two-time Honda Indy Toronto winner, led the way in Friday’s opening 45-minute practice for the Verizon IndyCar Series’ lone trip to Canada this year.

Bourdais’ best time was a 1:02.929 around the 1.786-mile, 11-turn street course, which features a reconfiguration from Turns 9 to 11, owing to the pit lane being moved to the other side of the track.

The layout is such that drivers and cars can barely go more than one car wide through the complex, and it has also made the pit lane much trickier – both for entry and exit.

Bourdais was one of two drivers in the 1:02 bracket along with his Chip Ganassi Racing sports car teammate Scott Dixon, himself also a two-time Toronto winner. Dixon clocked a 1:02.9738 in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet.

Simon Pagenaud was third in the now blue and white No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet for Team Penske, followed by top Honda runners Takuma Sato and Graham Rahal.

While usually close times are a hallmark of an IndyCar session, only the top 16 were within one second (Spencer Pigot was 0.9983 of a second back) with six drivers – Carlos Munoz, Luca Filippi, James Hinchcliffe, Conor Daly, Jack Hawksworth and track debutante Max Chilton – outside that one-second back mark.

The IndyCar practice, which began with temperatures of 73 degrees Fahrenheit ambient and 96 on track per Firestone, ran caution-free.

It was a far cry from the earlier Mazda Road to Indy practice sessions, where at least Anthony Martin, Jordan Lloyd, Robert Megennis (USF2000) and Jake Parsons and Nicolas Dapero (Pro Mazda) had contact at some point around the circuit. Megennis’ car was in better shape than the other four.

Second practice runs from 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. ET and local time. Times are below.