Sebastien Bourdais went fastest in Friday’s second NTT IndyCar Series practice session at PIR on Friday – and then brought proceedings to an early end when he went into the barriers at the final corner, triggering a red flag with two minutes remaning on the clock.
Bourdais had just reeled off a 57.9213s to bump Will Power off the top spot when he locked the inside front on the approach to the final corner and skated straight on and into the barriers.
“Not quite sure [what happened],” he said, nursing a bump to his hand. “The inside front locked up quite early – the tire was starting to give up a little bit, so it locked up and I couldn’t get it to stop. My hand is alright, just a hit from the bottom of the wheel on the top of the hand. Broke a little blood vessel, so it’s a little swollen, but nothing on the bone side.
“The car is definitely pretty quick. We’ve just been fighting understeer for the most part. Doesn’t really look like the option tires are much faster, so we’re just chasing balance, really.”
A few minutes earlier, compatriot Simon Pagenaud had come very close to doing the same thing at the same spot, but he was able to avoid the barrier and managed to find his way out of the dirt and continue on unscathed.
Bourdais’ best was only 0.02s quicker than the earlier benchmark set by Power, who was satisfied with the handling of the No.12 Penske car, but a little disappointed to have been denied the final couple of minutes of track time.
“Pretty happy with the balance,” he said. “Would have liked to have got out and got that last run in, so we’re trying to consider whether use some of our race session to see what we might be might do if we make the Fast Six. But a pretty fun session.”
Ganassi’s Felix Rosenqvist held the top spot through much of the session before being shuffled back, but his best was still good enough for third-fastest, leaving the morning pace-setter Colton Herta and Josef Newgarden to round out the top five.
Afternoon practice was immediately followed by a short Sunday-morning-warm-up-except-it’s-Friday-afternoon session, giving teams a chance to practice live pitstops , and in some cases tick the last boxes they had left over after their track time was cut short by Bourdais’ red flag.
Ryan Hunter-Reay took the honors in that one with a 58.2729s lap on the alternate tires, leaving Andretti teammate Zach Veach and Scott Dixon to round out the top three. Colton Herta was fourth-fastest with the quickest lap on the harder compound.
The session passed more or less without incident, although Spencer Pigot provided some minor drama when he went offline at the start of his out-lap, tried to take a shortcut through the chicane, and stalled.