Takuma Sato has won pole position for the opening race at Houston

Takuma Sato has given the AJ Foyt Enterprises team a pole position on home soil, with the Japanese driver posting the fastest overall time in a revamped qualifying session for the weekend’s first of two races on the streets of Houston.

Last-minute track modifications had forced officials to tweak the schedule, meaning that the tradition ‘Group’, ‘Top 12’ and ‘Fast Six’ qualifying format had to be altered, with the field randomly split into two 15-minute sessions.

Sato, in the second group, benefitted from a session run entirely under green flags to post the fastest time of 1:00.4535, just over a tenth quicker than that managed by championship aspirant Scott Dixon, while Baltimore race-winner Simon Pagenaud was third-fastest in the group.

Those running in the first group were disadvantaged by less grippy track conditions and a temporary suspension of the session when Tristan Vautier had an accident in the opening minutes at Turn 10.

The accident had serious ramifications for championship contenders Ryan Hunter-Reay and Hélio Castroneves, who both qualified well down the order in their group.

When running resumed with just five minutes left, it was up to Will Power to post the quickest time of the session and ensure himself a front-row start for Saturday’s 90-lap race. The Australian’s fastest lap – which was 0.7 seconds slower than Sato’s later benchmark – was still an impressive effort, given his was posted on the slower ‘black-sidewalled’ Firestone tyres.

The Australian managed to outpace two of the IndyCar Series’ renowned street circuit specialists in the form of Sébastien Bourdais and Simona de Silvestro, who completed the top-three in their group to give themselves great grid positions for the race.

Rookie driver Luca Filippi was also a standout performer with the fourth-fastest time in his group of twelve drivers.

2013 IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Houston – Race 1 Qualifying Results:

  Driver   Entry / Team Result  
1. Takuma Sato AJ Foyt Enterprises – Honda 1:00.4535 G2
2. Will Power AUS Team Penske – Chevrolet 1:01.1524 G1
3. Scott Dixon NZL Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda 1:00.6057 G2
4. Sébastien Bourdais Dragon Racing – Chevrolet 1:01.4911 G1
5. Simon Pagenaud SPH – Honda 1:00.6184 G2
6. Simona de Silvestro KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet 1:01.5527 G1
7. James Hinchcliffe CAN Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet 1:01.2123 G2
8. Luca Filippi ITA Barracuda Racing – Honda 1:01.6520 G1
9. E.J. Viso Team Venezuela – Chevrolet 1:01.3274 G2
10. Dario Franchitti Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda 1:01.7201 G1
11. James Jakes Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda 1:01.3678 G2
12. Marco Andretti USA Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet 1:01.7907 G1
13. Mike Conway Dale Coyne Racing – Honda 1:01.5154 G2
14. Justin Wilson Dale Coyne Racing – Honda 1:01.8065 G1
15. Tony Kanaan BRA KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet 1:01.5409 G2
16. Ryan Hunter-Reay USA Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet 1:01.8305 G1
17. Charlie Kimball USA Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda 1:01.6329 G2
18. Oriol Servia ESP Panther Racing – Chevrolet 1:01.9043 G1
19. Graham Rahal USA Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda 1:02.0140 G2
20. Josef Newgarden USA Sarah Fisher Hartman – Honda 1:02.1588 G1
21. Sebastián Saavedra Dragon Racing – Chevrolet 1:02.1175 G2
22. Hélio Castroneves BRA Team Penske – Chevrolet 1:02.2823 G1
23. Ed Carpenter USA Ed Carpenter Racing – Chevrolet 1:03.5193 G2
24. Tristan Vautier SPH – Honda no time G1

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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.