Will Power has kicked off his 2011 IndyCar championship aspirations in the best Will Power was fastest overall on the opening day of pre-season testing at Barber Motorsports Parkpossible way, by finishing quickest at the end of the opening day’s pre-season test session at Barber Motorsports Park.

The 2010 championship runner-up took his Penske quickest in both the morning and afternoon sessions along the Alabama circuit, with his fastest time of 1:12.5056 proving scarcely quicker than the second-fastest driver, Scott Dixon.

In a positive sign for a series largely dominated by Penske and Ganassi last year, seven different teams were represented in the top-ten placings – although all three Penskes finished within the top-six – and there was little separation in overall lap times. Eighteen of the day’s twenty-four runners were covered by a single second after more than five hours’ running.

Justin Wilson finished third-fastest for Dreyer & Reinbold, ahead of Hélio Castroneves’ Penske, while Canadian James Hinchcliffe was fifth-fastest in the Newman/Haas entry. The rookie driver was very impressive as he aims to secure a promotion to the senior series, and he placed second-fastest in the morning session.

Sixth-quickest and under half-a-second slower than his compatriot Power, Ryan Briscoe was the slowest of Penske’s three drivers at the test, and he finished just quicker than Venezuelan driver EJ Viso in the Lotus-backed KV Racing entry.

The Andretti Autosport pairing of Mike Conway – continuing to show positive form after his extended injury lay-off – and Ryan Hunter-Reay were next up, while Alex Tagliani did extremely well to get his Sam Schmidt Motorsports entry into the top-ten.

Further down the order, defending champion Dario Franchitti was twelfth-fastest in his Ganassi entry, while prospective IndyCar returnee Sébastien Bourdais was 16th-fastest, initially complaining of poor handling with his Dale Coyne entry, before improving to finish less than 0.8 seconds off the fastest time of the day.

Two of the Andretti entries – with Marco Andretti and Danica Patrick – finished well down the order in 15th and 19th respectively, while newly-signed Conquest Racing driver Sebastian Saavedra was 21st-fastest.

GP2 driver James Jakes was given a late-notice ride in Dale Coyne’s second car, and finished just over two seconds off the pace in 23rd.

The day was generally free from incidents, although Briscoe caused a red flag when he had a spin. KV Racing’s Takuma Sato and Panther’s JR Hildebrand also had minor incidents during the day’s running.

The second day of testing is scheduled for Tuesday local time.


Barber Motorsport Park Pre-Season Test (Day 1) Lap Times:

  Driver   Team Time
1. Will Power AUS Team Penske 1:12.5056
2. Scott Dixon NZL Target Chip Ganassi + 0.0482
3. Justin Wilson GBR Dreyer & Reinbold Racing + 0.1735
4. Hélio Castroneves BRZ Team Penske + 0.2708
5. James Hinchcliffe CDN Newman/Haas Racing + 0.3673
6. Ryan Briscoe AUS Team Penske + 0.4659
7. EJ Viso VEN KV Racing Technology Lotus + 0.5114
8. Mike Conway GBR Andretti Autosport + 0.5282
9. Ryan Hunter-Reay USA Andretti Autosport + 0.5992
10. Alex Tagliani CDN Sam Schmidt Motorsports + 0.6131
11. Graham Rahal USA Service Central Chip Ganassi + 0.6310
12. Dario Franchitti GBR Target Chip Ganassi + 0.6468
13. Takuma Sato JPN KV Racing Technology Lotus + 0.6857
14. Oriol Servià ESP Newman/Haas Racing + 0.7481
15. Marco Andretti USA Andretti Autosport + 0.7530
16. Sébastien Bourdais FRA Dale Coyne Racing + 0.7848
17. Simona di Silvestro SUI HVM Racing + 0.9490
18. Charlie Kimball USA Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi + 0.9774
19. Danica Patrick USA Andretti Autosport + 1.2046
20. Vitor Meira BRZ AJ Foyt Enterprises + 1.2681
21. Sebastian Saavedra COL Conquest Racing + 1.2964
22. JR Hildebrand USA Panther Racing + 2.0478
23. James Jakes GBR Dale Coyne Racing + 2.2719
24. Ana Beatriz BRZ Dreyer & Reinbold Racing + 2.5721

[Original image via IZOD IndyCar Series]

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Richard Bailey

Founder & Chief Editor at MotorsportM8
Hasn't missed a Grand Prix since 1989. Has a soft spot for Minardi. Tattooed with 35+ Grand Prix circuits.