Bourdais leads test with three hours to go, Palou stars

David Malsher-Lopez

With eight sets of slicks available thanks to yesterday’s and this morning’s virtual washouts at Circuit of The Americas, the teams have had eight sets of Firestone slicks available in the 6hr10min session. As track conditions became ever more favorable, most new session pacesetters – and there have been several – have taken huge chunks of time from the driver they replaced in top spot. 

The session’s halfway mark was reached under a red flag as Marcus Ericsson beached his Chip Ganassi Racing-Honda in the new gravel trap at Turn 19, which has been extended this year. The corner itself has not been reprofiled but the timing loop has been shortened so that anyone who uses excess of the runoff asphalt will have that lap discounted.

Bourdais was 0.5783sec faster than the Ganassi car of Scott Dixon, with 2018 Indy Lights champion Patricio O’Ward putting the Arrow McLaren SP-Chevrolet third. Bourdais will now turn the #14 Foyt car over to Dalton Kellett, one of the drivers with whom he’ll share the entry this year.

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Fourth was last year’s Super Formula rookie of the year, Alex Palou who looked very fast and smooth around the sweepers in the final sector of the lap, beating Team Penske-Chevrolet’s Will Power by 0.04sec who was struggling in that final sector.

Felix Rosenqvist made it two Ganassi cars in the top six, ahead of reigning Indy 500 champion Simon Pagenaud, and the fastest of the Andretti Autosport-Hondas, Alex Rossi who survived a spin in his pink-and-black AutoNation-colored machine.

Graham Rahal was ninth for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing-Honda ahead of the Carlin-Chevy of Max Chilton.

Rookie and 2019 Lights champ Oliver Askew in the second Arrow McLaren SP car  looked very quick as the track was still drying in the early afternoon.

2018 IMSA champion Felipe Nasr turned 49 laps in the second Carlin car, including some brave efforts while the track was at its most wet/dry and treacherous, but now hands over the #31 entry to F2 race winner Sergio Sette Camara. Nothing has yet been confirmed regarding the how and when these two drivers will share the car in 2020, although there would be only one date clash between the IMSA Prototype schedule and the IndyCar season for Action Express Racing's star Nasr. 

Supercars star Scott McLaughlin survived a spin in the #2 Penske and lay 2sec off the ultimate pace, but with several tire sets left to use.

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