Hunter-Reay Leads First Day Of IndyCar Testing At Sebring

Ryan Hunter-Reay - Anne Proffit photo

Ryan Hunter-Reay - Anne Proffit photo

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The IZOD IndyCar Series is holding an open test at Sebring International Raceway over four days this week, with the opening salvo taking place on Monday and Tuesday, and the balance of the test days scheduled for Thursday and Friday.

For this first day there were 10 cars on the 1.67-mile short course for a total of seven hours.

The Indy cars completed 674 laps without incident.

Ryan Hunter-Reay set his quickest lap in the afternoon session--as did eight of his competitors. Only Simona de Silvestro posted her best speed in the morning round.

Hunter-Reay, driving his Andretti Autosport No. 28 Dallara/Chevrolet/Firestone Indy car took 60 total laps of the circuit with a best speed of 114.334 mph.

"Everybody is making a lot of adjustments to their cars and the car is a lot of fun," Hunter-Reay said. "The car is a lot different with the carbon brakes and it being lighter with the power output of the Chevy twin turbo."

Image courtesy Phil Abbott - LAT USA

Image courtesy Phil Abbott - LAT USA

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Hunter-Reay loved the wind-up of the twin turbochargers on his Chevrolet engine.

"If you didn't have any lap times (to look at), you'd think you were two or three seconds a lap quicker, just because of the power delivery of the turbos. When it gets going, it really sets you back in your seat. I think the lap times at St Pete (first race of the year) will be quicker and this car will certainly go faster and faster as we develop it," he explained.

Second place went to Helio Castroneves in Team Penske's No. 3 Chevy-powered car at 114.060 after his 83 laps were complete.

"Somehow the setup we've developed here is one that works on most of the street courses," Castroneves said. "I think because this track has a variety of bumps, concrete, concrete and asphalt, it has always given an indication of a street course and that's what we're going to go with."

Simon Pagenaud, classified as a rookie this year, drove the newly-renamed Schmidt/Hamilton Motorsports Dallara/Honda/Firestone No. 77 car to this with his best of 114.012 (81 laps). The Frenchman considered this a good day.

"We made quite a few changes getting ready for St Petersburg with its low-grip conditions, which we had here today as well. We made some big steps forward and I'm very happy tonight," he revealed after being quickest of the Honda-powered cars. SSM has joined forces with driver Davey Hamilton.

James Hinchcliffe's Andretti Autosport No. 27 entry posted the fourth-best speed after turning 76 laps. His 113.622-lap gave the Canadian a good learning day.

"We got a lot accomplished in the second session. That's what these tests are for," Hinch reminded. "I'm looking forward to tomorrow, as we have a good baseline to work with. Ryan was obviously very quick, but we'll just keep working on all of the things we set out to test."

Ryan Briscoe was fifth in the newly renumbered No. 2 Team Penske Chevy entry, posting 113.589 and completing 84 laps, grateful for the valuable testing time.

"We had a trouble-free day and got through a couple of big-ticket list items that we wanted to do, so I'm pretty happy and looking forward to tomorrow," the Aussie said. "As we get closer to St Pete, every piece of mileage that we get becomes even more important to us; it's crucial to have reliability and we had that."

Perennial championship contender Will Power had the sixth-best speed in his No. 12 Team Penske Chevy-powered car at 113.324 after completing 59 laps. Although he didn't get to run at the end of the day, the times we were putting up on really old tires were really good," Power confessed.

Newly rejoined with Dale Coyne Racing and engineer Bill Pappas, Justin Wilson gave the No. 18 Honda-powered Dallara a 59-lap workout for a best of 113.056. The Rolex 24 at Daytona winner said he "learned a lot of things, made a lot of changes and we're making gains on the car. We are still in the very early stages with this car," he reminded, "and there is a lot left to do in order to get where we want to be."

Marco Andretti was eighth in the No. 26 Andretti Autosport Chevy-powered Dallara, completing  68 laps with a best of 112.835, while James Jakes drove the No. 19 Honda-powered Coyne entry to ninth, lapping 69 times around this track for a best of 111.486.

Simona de Silvestro, the sole Lotus-powered entry on site had a "difficult day. She only made 31 laps of the Sebring short course and her best lap in the No. 78 Lotus-HVM Racing Dallara was 110.183 mph. "We have a lot of work ahead of us and we just need to go through the process," de Silvestro said. "I think we see that we are a little bit behind, but if we keep improving like we did at the last test, we should be fine for St Pete."

This group will continue to test on Tuesday with a different cast of characters and cars scheduled for testing later in the week.

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