Bourdais and Hunter-Reay fastest in Friday practice at Detroit

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Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar

Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Hunter-Reay have finished as the fastest drivers in the two Friday practice sessions for this weekend’s 2018 Chevrolet Duel in Detroit. Bourdais was fastest in the first session of the day, with Hunter-Reay taking over the top spot in the second session later on.

After several weeks of racing on the high-speed banked turns at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Verizon IndyCar Series took to the vast contrast of the tight and twisty Belle Isle street circuit in Friday morning’s first practice session.

Sebastien Bourdais topped the opening forty-minutes of practice. The #18 Dale Coyne Racing driver set a best time of 1:17.8545 around the 2.35-mile circuit, with two other former Detroit winners, Scott Dixon and Graham Rahal coming in just behind him in second and third respectively. The trio were the only drivers to lap under the 1:18.0-barrier during the first session.

All four of Andretti Autosport‘s entries were in the top ten in practice one. Alexander Rossi and Marco Andretti took fourth and fifth, with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Zach Veach not far behind in seventh and eighth. Splitting the four drivers right down the middle was the impressive rookie Santino Ferrucci for Dale Coyne.

Ferrucci, a Haas F1 Team development driver and current Formula 2 racer, is making his Verizon IndyCar Series debut this weekend in the #19 car; usually shared by Zachary Claman De Melo and the injured Pietro Fittipaldi. The American teenager kicked off his debut with a solid sixth place, lapping the circuit just under half a second slower than his team-mate Bourdais at the front.

Reigning series champion Josef Newgarden ended the first session in ninth place, with Tony Kanaan completing the top ten for A.J. Foyt Enterprises. Further back, fresh off of his win in last weekend’s Indianapolis 500Will Power finished the session in thirteenth for Team Penske.

Most of the rookies, excluding Ferrucci and Veach, found themselves outside of the top ten in session one. Robert Wickens was fifteenth fastest, with others such as Jordan King and Matheus Leist further back in seventeenth and eighteenth.

After not racing last weekend due to failing to qualify for the Indy 500, James Hinchcliffe made his return to the track in twenty-first place for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports; with Gabby Chaves and Rene Binder propping up the field in the final two places. Binder caused the only red flag of the opening session after hitting the wall in his #32 Juncos Racing Chevrolet.

2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – Duel in Detroit – Practice one:

[table id=3057 /]

Full results of practice one can be found by clicking the following link:

Credit: Joe Skibinski / Courtesy of IndyCar

As the racing surface continued to rubber in, the lap-times got faster in the second and final practice session for the 2018 Duel in Detroit. Ryan Hunter-Reay would lower the best lap down to a 1:16.3598 in the second forty-minute session. He was less than seven-thousandths of a second faster than Scott Dixon, who was once again in second place in the #9 Honda.

James Hinchcliffe improved from twenty-first in practice one to third place in practice two. He was a tenth of a second off Hunter-Reay, with Josef Newgarden and Marco Andretti rounding out the top five. Graham Rahal was sixth fastest, with the winner of the two Detroit races in 2017 hoping that history repeats itself this weekend.

Simon Pagenaud was seventh fastest for Penske ahead of Alexander Rossi in eighth place, with rookies Robert Wickens and Zach Veach taking the final two spots in the top ten. The fastest driver in session one, Sebastien Bourdais, was just outside the top ten in eleventh place. The Frenchman was one of many drivers to explore the limited run-off areas during the session.

The session was interrupted by two red flag periods. After stepping aside for the Indy 500 so that Ed Carpenter could drive the #20, Jordan King’s first day back could have gone better. In the first ten minutes of practice two, the British rookie lost the rear-end of his Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet at the fast left-hander at turn fourteen. He smacked the outside wall with the left-side of his car, with the resulting suspension damage sending him back across the track into the inside wall. All four corners of the car were heavily damaged in the crash, but King stepped out of the car unscathed.

Later on, Tony Kanaan proved that the tricky Belle Isle street circuit could catch out veterans as well as rookies. The Brazilian locked up on the entry to turn seven, with the rear-end of his car stepping out from underneath him immediately after. He hit the tyre wall with the left-rear of his #14 A.J. Foyt Enterprises Chevrolet and would bring out the second red flag of the session.

The next time the cars will be out on track at Detroit will be in tomorrow’s qualifying session for race one. The first race will take place later on in the day, with race two and it’s own qualifying session being run on Sunday.

2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – Duel in Detroit – Practice two:

[table id=3058 /]

Full results of practice two can be found by clicking the following link:

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Reporter from the East of England. Covering the NTT IndyCar Series for The Checkered Flag. Also an eSports racing driver on iRacing.
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