Honda Indy Toronto tweaks pose fresh challenges

If Friday’s first practice session at the Honda Indy Toronto is any indication, Saturday’s qualifying and Sunday’s race will challenge drivers in ways they haven’t seen before at Exhibition Place.

“It’s a pretty different experience,” said Arrow McLaren’s Felix Rosenqvist, who finished third in Toronto last year, as drivers offered their first impressions of this year’s street course.

“There’s some new, repaved patches and initially it was really slippery. You were expecting it to improve, but it didn’t … Turns 9 and 10 and 11 (the last three on the course) you have a complete rethink of the driving lines and how you approach that section.”

Other drivers agreed. Romain Grosjean of Andretti Motorsports said the slippery surface improved as it heated up, but it took a long time.

Rosenqvist added that a bump at the apex of the curve on Turn 10 forced cars airborne, making navigation that much more tricky: “There’s a big bump there. You can’t carry too much speed. It reminds a bit of rally racing … you try to get the car set up and then hope to land it in the right place.”

Drivers will have a second practice session to try to figure out the best approach before Saturday’s qualifying begins.

Arc of a driver

With Simon Pagenaud ruled out after a recent crash, Tom Blomqvist will fill in for Meyer Shank Racing. For Blomqvist, two-time defending champion at the 24 Hours of Daytona, it’s his first full weekend as an IndyCar driver.

“You just don’t want to embarrass yourself,” said Blomqvist, who was about three seconds slower than the fastest drivers in Friday’s practice session. “I’m not afraid, but I just have to get that feeling of when I want to go all out. It takes time. We’ll see how I do (in qualifying).”

On the undercard

Alex Tagliani took the checkered flag in the NASCAR Pinty’s Series race on Friday afternoon. Kevin Lacroix and Marc-Antoine Camirand finished second and third for a Canadian sweep. The top three drivers were separated by less than a second. Series points leader Treyten Lapcevich finished sixth.


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