ALONSO FINDS COM­FORT ZONE

IndyCar rookie fires warn­ing shot on Fast Fri­day

New Straits Times - - Sport -

LOS AN­GE­LES

FRENCH­MAN Se­bastien Bour­dais posted the top speed while IndyCar rookie Fer­nando Alonso fired a warn­ing shot on the fi­nal day of prac­tice on Fri­day be­fore yes­ter­day’s qual­i­fy­ing for the In­di­anapo­lis 500.

Bour­dais, who spent parts of two sea­sons in Formula One with Toro Rosso, posted the fastest lap of 375.164kmph around the famed su­per speed­way on what is known as ‘Fast Fri­day’.

Yes­ter­day’s qual­i­fy­ing had 33 spots on the start­ing grid for the May 28 race up for grabs. The fastest nine cars will bat­tle for pole to­day.

The French­man was the only driver to crack 372.8kmph with Amer­i­can Ryan Hunter-Reay, the 2014 Indy 500 win­ner, post­ing the sec­ond best ef­fort of 371.441kmph.

“Never a bad day when you’re at the front,” smiled Bour­dais. “It’s pretty ex­cit­ing just to be in the mix know­ing that we seem­ingly have a chance to do well in qual­i­fy­ing.

Ja­pan’s Takuma Sato was third quick­est with a 371.150kmph and Alonso fourth best with 370.923kmph in his McLaren An­dretti Au­tosport Honda.

It was a par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive per­for­mance from the Spa­niard given the two-time Formula One cham­pion had never driven an IndyCar be­fore this week with the ex­cep­tion of one brief test ear­lier in May.

The ef­fort im­pressed his Alonso’s An­dretti Au­tosport team­mate Sato, who also had con­sid­er­able ex­pe­ri­ence in Formula One with Jor­dan, BAR and Su­per Aguri, be­fore mak­ing the jump to IndyCar.

“I think it’s very im­pres­sive,” Sato told re­porters. “Although, it’s what you ex­pected, what we ex­pected, to be hon­est.

“Fer­nando is one of the best driv­ers in the world. I think we ex­pected him to be up to speed very quickly.

“Ob­vi­ously to­day is some­thing new for him again. Fast Fri­day you break 230 miles (368km) per hour for the first time. He did drive ex­tremely well.”

Alonso has en­dured a mis­er­able F1 sea­son with McLaren, who have strug­gled with an un­re­li­able and un­com­pet­i­tive Honda en­gine and are the only team on the grid yet to score a point af­ter five races.

Honda, how­ever, have dom­i­nated at the Brick­yard pow­er­ing 11 of the top 12 cars on Fast Fri­day, in­clud­ing the top four. Reuters Jack Miller in ac­tion on his Estrella Gali­cia Marc VDS dur­ing a free prac­tice ses­sion for the French Grand Prix, in Le Mans on Fri­day. AFP PIC

AP PIC

Fer­nando Alonso climbs over the pit wall dur­ing prac­tice for the In­di­anapo­lis 500 IndyCar at In­di­anapo­lis Mo­tor Speed­way on Fri­day.

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