Will Power, Penske, Indianapolis, 2023

Sato leads strong showing by Ganassi on day one of Indy 500 practice

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In the round-up: Two-times Indianapolis 500 winner Takuma Sato led the times on the opening day of practice as Ganassi put in a strong showing.

In brief

Sato leads Indy 500 practice as Enerson completes rookie orientation

After rain tore up Tuesday’s schedule of two practice sessions, the 107th edition of the Indianapolis 500 finally got underway at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Wednesday with eight consecutive hours of track action.

The revised schedule had to accomodate some of Tuesday’s planned activities, meaning the first 75 minutes of practice was dedicated to installation laps for the IndyCar field, then straight after there were 105 minutes dedicated to rookie orientation. Having lapping at the required pace during that period, Abel Motorsports’ RC Enerson was then allowed to participate in the remaining five hours of practice that was open to all 34 drivers.

RC Enerson, Abel, Indianapolis, 2023
Enerson, who missed the earlier test, turned his first laps
Ganassi’s Scott Dixon went fastest almost straight away, immediately beating the benchmark practice pace from 2022 before boost levels were introduced in later sessions. He remained on top for almost three-and-a-half hours before team mate Sato went fastest by 0.0453 seconds, setting a lap in 369.246278kph (229.439mph).

Alex Palou and Marcus Ericsson completed a top four of Ganassi’s Honda-powered cars, which was eventually broken with just over half an hour to go by Colton Herta (Andretti Autosport with Curb-Agajanian). Santino Ferrucci (AJ Foyt Racing) went third fastest and 0.0792s off Sato ten minutes later as temperatures lowered, making him the top Chevrolet-powered driver.

Callum Ilott had a tough day for Juncos Hollinger, a second off the pace in 34th and last place. Only the top 33 drivers will secure places on the grid when qualifying takes place this weekend.

Rahal’s IndyCar future may lie beyond his father’s team

Graham Rahal prompted speculation over his IndyCar future, having now gone almost six years without a win with his father Bobby’s Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing team.

“Do I see myself leaving at the end of the year? When my deal is up, do I see myself retiring? No, I don’t. But I’m also not going to sit here and not run up front when I know I can compete with those guys. And I don’t say that arrogantly or with over-confidence,” Rahal said on Tuesday.

“I don’t want to sit here and keep running around in 20th. That’s not a selfish thing, it’s actually the opposite because for me eventually you’ve got to look internally and go: Am I the piece of the puzzle that’s not really clicking here? Do I need to step away and bring in a different driver?

“But the flip side of that is all of our sponsors [at RLL] are long-term deals, all of the sponsors have my name in the contract, so where am I going to go?”

Euroformula reinstates Mugello round

When the Formula 3-level Euroformula championship announced its 2023 calendar last September, it featured Mugello as the seventh round of eight.

But in January it dropped the Italian track for the chance to include May’s Pau Grand Prix instead. Then two weeks before the grand prix it pulled out of racing on the streets of France due to not running on the biofuel the event organisers had desired.

So Euroformula went looking for a replacement eighth round, and has now landed back where they started having announced they will race in Mugello on 30th September and 1st October as originally planned.

Emilia-Romagna flooding impacts sport beyond F1

It is not just Formula 1’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix that has had to be called off due to extreme wet weather in Italy, including at the Imola track they were set to race at, as the rallying scene has also been impacted.

This weekend’s Rally Adriatico, based out of the walled city of Urbino actually south of the Emilia-Romagna region and part of the national gravel championship, has been called off due to safety concerns. The rally organiser is working with the Italian motorsport federation to find a new deate for the event.

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Comment of the day

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has revealed how future engine partner Ford demonstrated their interest in returning to F1 with Red Bull as their CEO Jim Farley wore a team cap to their first meeting last year.

Was it a cost cap?

Happy birthday!

Happy birthday to Gombosco!

On this day in motorsport

  • 20 years ago today Michael Schumacher won the Austrian Grand Prix despite a brief fire during a refuelling stop

Author information

Ida Wood
Often found in junior single-seater paddocks around Europe doing journalism and television commentary, or dabbling in teaching photography back in the UK. Currently based...

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9 comments on “Sato leads strong showing by Ganassi on day one of Indy 500 practice”

  1. RE: QTD, Ford appear very conscious of the cost cap, they didn’t opt for the more expensive Max cap.

    The floods are awful, I hope the F1 teams can pitch in and help some how. When the WRC got canceled due to fires in Aust a few years ago all the team food, caterers and tents were made available to fire fighters, and people who had been evacuated. The WRC teams stayed and helped out where they could, I know it was really appreciated here.

    1. @Mooa42 The difference to WRC’s 2019 Rally Australia cancellation is that they didn’t have a scheduled rally for the following week, like F1 teams have, so not much time for helping before needing to make their way towards Monaco.

      1. Well they have a whole teams worth of food which is no longer required, no repairs to do and they’d already planned to get the 500ks to Monaco after the weekend anyway, so I would say they had quite a bit of extra time to help out.

        1. @Mooa42 Good points

  2. To put the speeds at Indy in perspective, they are lapping, on an oval track, at an average speed of about 230 mph. Honda went to Bonneville to try to set a speed record. Using an unlimited V-10 engine and removing the rear wing, this is what they accomplished…

    While the Honda looked fairly identical to the one used on F1 tracks, the team replaced the engine with an unrestricted V10. Additionally, the team replaced the typical rear wing with a stability fin, and van der Merwe added appropriate tires.
    The current Formula 1 fastest car record stands at 246.90 mph (397.360 km/h). The goal for this project was 248.54 mph (400 km/h). Van der Merwe managed to go 256.75 mph (413.205 km/h) on one run but couldn’t replicate the speed on the second run.

    At the California Speedway…..

    After Juan Pablo Montoya had narrowly missed Gugelmin’s practice record, Gil de Ferran set a new one-lap qualifying record of 241.428 mph (388.541 km/h) at the 2000 Marlboro 500, a CART event.


    1. @stever Imagine where speeds at Indy would have been had the CART/IRL split not happened and those late 90s/Early 00s CART spec cars had run there.

      I remember all the talk coming out of Indy in 1997 from those who didn’t have any links to the IRL was how pathetic the IRL cars looked and sounded compared to the CART spec cars that had run there until then.

      I honestly think that the initial IRL formula did just as much harm to the popularity of Indy style cars than the split itself had because those cars were an awful spectacle in comparison to CART. And to be honest for as great at Indycar has gotten post reunification I don’t think it’s ever quite managed to get back most of what made the CART era such an incredible spectacle that helped make it as popular as it became.

      1. Totally agree. The CART days were golden; I remember seeing a race at Portland and the speeds through turn 9 (?) onto the front straight were amazing. I’ve been to F1 races and CART and CART was actually a threat to F1 back in the day. The CART/Indy split ruined open wheel racing in the US. CART teams were building their own cars with some serious machinery. Penske and his Mercedes pushrod engine at Indy was great. Oh well.

  3. Becoming a race-winning team, even at some point, is easier said than done for Haas, so he may face disappointment.

  4. RandomMallard
    18th May 2023, 10:57

    Callum Ilott had a tough day for Juncos Hollinger

    Really? At one point, he had a four-lap average of 750,146.254 miles per hour! Which equates to 1 lap in 0.011 seconds! ;-)

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