Dixon fastest in both Toronto Friday practice sessions

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Scott Dixon: 2018 IndyCar Chip Ganassi Racing Toronto
Credit: Chris Owens / Courtesy of IndyCar

Scott Dixon has finished as the fastest driver in both Friday practice sessions ahead of this weekend’s 2018 Verizon IndyCar Series Honda Indy Toronto. The Chip Ganassi Racing driver showed great pace throughout the day’s running and will be hoping to remain at the top of the order for the rest of the weekend.

After a disappointing race last weekend at Iowa Speedway, Dixon entered this week’s event in Canada with ambitions of getting back to the front to maintain his championship advantage. He still leads the way by thirty-three points, but he will not want to give his rivals the opportunity to catch up by finishing outside of the top ten like he did last Sunday.

Scott’s weekend got off to a great start in practice one today. He set the fastest lap of the session with a time of  1:00.7474. He was one of only three drivers to lap under the 1:01 region; with Graham Rahal and Alexander Rossi lapping within three-tenths of Dixon to set the second and third fastest times. There was a lot of time left to be found later in the day and the weekend, however, as last year’s pole position time by Simon Pagenaud was a 58.912; a time almost two seconds quicker than Dixon’s lap in the first session.

Takuma Sato made sure that both Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing cars were in the top five, joining second-placed team-mate Graham Rahal near the top of the time-sheets in fourth place. Marco Andretti completed the top five for Andretti Herta. He will be hoping that he stays near the front throughout the weekend after a tough season so far.

Sebastien Bourdais, one of the most experienced drivers in the field when it comes to racing on the streets of Toronto, was sixth fastest for Dale Coyne Racing. After a disappointing mid-season, Bourdais is hoping to emulate his street-course win in round one at St. Petersburg this weekend, a win that would be his third at this event.

Championship protagonists Will Power and Ryan Hunter-Reay finished the session seventh and eighth. Hunter-Reay, along with his aforementioned team-mate Rossi, was one of a handful of drivers to brush the wall during the session; as drivers tried to use every inch of the racing surface to their advantage. Neither car sustained damage, thankfully.

It was a strong first session for rookie Matheus Leist. He was ninth fastest for A.J. Foyt Enterprises, with Ganassi’s Ed Jones rounding out the top ten in session one. Hometown hero Robert Wickens was just outside the top ten in eleventh place, with fellow Canadians James Hinchcliffe and Zachary Claman De Melo further back in eighteenth and nineteenth respectively.

Conor Daly made his on-track return in session one with Harding Racing. The American was twentieth fastest in what was his first time back on a street course since this event one year ago. Just behind Daly was Ed Carpenter Racing‘s Jordan King, who caused a yellow flag during the session after making light contact with a tyre barrier. He finished the session in twenty-first place.

2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – Honda Indy Toronto – Practice one top twelve results:

[table id=3208 /]

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

Scott Dixon: 2018 IndyCar Chip Ganassi Racing Toronto

Credit: Matt Fraver / Courtesy of IndyCar

The lap-times at the Toronto street circuit continued to tumble as the second practice session got underway. All the drivers except for last-placed Zachary Claman De Melo lapped faster than Dixon’s benchmark in the first session, with the field getting a lot closer to last year’s pole position time.

Scott Dixon maintained his hold of the top of the time-sheets, this time with a best lap of 50.0751. The championship leader is going from strength to strength so far, with a perfect start to the weekend. He held a lead of almost half a second over his nearest rival in practice two and it looks as though the field may be hard pressed to beat him if his good form continues into the next two days.

Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing continued to show speed in practice two. This time, Takuma Sato took the lead over team-mate Graham Rahal, with the pair finishing the session second and fourth fastest respectively, with Marco Andretti sandwiched in-between in third. It was not an undramatic session for fourth-placed Rahal, who miraculously avoided hitting the wall after a high-speed spin at turn eleven that brought out a red flag.

Alexander Rossi was fifth fastest for Andretti Autosport, with last weekend’s runner-up, Spencer Pigot, just behind in sixth place for Ed Carpenter Racing. Reigning series champion, Josef Newgarden, much improved upon his position in practice one, setting the seventh fastest time for Penske.

Ryan Hunter-Reay may have set the eighth fastest time, but he had had a bit of a torrid time so far in Toronto. After scraping the wall in practice one, he continued to push the boundaries too far when he hit the inside wall whilst trying to hit the apex for a corner. The contact gave him a puncture, which cost him some time as the team checked his car for further damage. He would return to the track, only to spin later on in the session.

Sebastien Bourdais was ninth fastest, with James Hinchcliffe finishing the session as the fastest Canadian in tenth place for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports. Simon Pagenaud was just outside of the top ten in eleventh place, with Ed Jones finishing twelfth fastest. The Dubai-born British driver ended his session with a spin right in front of the chequered flag at the timing line.

Further back, Penske’s Will Power was another driver who made contact with the wall during the session. He brushed the wall with his left-rear tyre and was forced to pit so that the team could check for further damage. He ended the session as the sixteenth fastest driver, just ahead of seventeenth placed Conor Daly.

Track action continues tomorrow with final practice and qualifying, with the 2018 Honda Indy Toronto taking place on Sunday afternoon.

2018 Verizon IndyCar Series – Honda Indy Toronto – Practice two top twelve results:

[table id=3209 /]

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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