Max Chilton set the unofficial fastest time on a rain-shortened test day at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Friday; a session that marked the return of America’s top open-wheelers to the Monterey Peninsula for the first time since 2004.
Chilton broke the timing beam at 1m11.2868s to top the times in the No. 59 Chevy-powered Carlin, narrowly edging out Chip Ganassi Racing rookie Felix Rosenqvist (1.11.3289s), Andretti Autosport’s Ryan Hunter-Reay (1m11.3490s) and Meyer Shank’s Jack Harvey (1m11.3680s). Andretti’s Alexander Rossi rounded out the top five.
For most, the morning was spent chasing brake balance and overall grip, as evidenced by minor spins or excursions into the gravel by the likes of Zach Veach, Santino Ferrucci and Hunter-Reay. Will Power was beset by a different kind of problem when his car suffered an apparent engine failure, but he was still able to complete 11 laps before rain moved in and brought proceedings to an end after the lunch break.
The threat of rain had hung over the day from the beginning, prompting IndyCar to advise teams that anyone who stopped running before 11 would not have the day deducted from their three allocated private test days. The only takers were A.J. Foyt Racing, who packed up and left early without either car turning a wheel.
Despite the weather, RC Enerson, who staked a late claim to Carlin’s No. 23 car, reeled off a session-high 61 laps, while most of the field managed to complete more than 30.
Lap times were around 5-6s per lap slower than the fastest laps of the Champ Car era, although those were set on a new track surface.