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IndyCar Mid-Ohio: Palou fastest in FP1 as new hybrid era begins

by News7

The reigning and two-time IndyCar Series champion Alex Palou led the first race weekend session of the hybrid era as rain impacted Friday practice at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.  

Chip Ganassi Racing’s Palou produced a quick lap of 1m07.0650s lap in his Honda-powered car around the repaved 13-turn, 2.258-mile natural terrain road course before rain impacted the opening session for Sunday’s 80-lap race.

Alexander Rossi ended up finishing up second, 0.4443s behind Palou in the No. 7 Arrow McLaren Chevrolet.

Sophomore Marcus Armstrong was third at 0.4792s off the top spot and give Chip Ganassi Racing two cars in the top three spots, but later spun off.

The No. 26 Andretti Global Honda of Colton Herta and No. 3 Team Penske Chevrolet driven by Scott McLaughlin concluded fourth and fifth, respectively.

The opening practice session officially signaled the start of the hybrid era in North America’s premier open-wheel championship, with the current 2.2-liter twin-turbocharged V6 internal combustion engine paired with supercapacitor hybrid technology that consists of a low-voltage (48V) motor generator unit (MGU) paired with an energy storage system (ESS).

Graham Rahal put his No. 15 Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda at the top of the leaderboard with a lap of 1m07.7452s after the initial 25 minutes of the 75-minute session.

But the stage was reset soon after when the red flag came out when Agustin Canapino had heavy smoke trailing from his No. 78 Juncos Hollinger Racing Chevrolet, with TV cameras spotting a flicker of flames in the right-rear corner of his car.

The session resumed after a 14m43s red flag.

With 29 minutes to go, Herta went quickest for a few seconds before Armstrong dethroned him with a 1m07.5442s lap in the No. 11 CGR-Honda.

Palou then delivered his quick lap to go to the top of the leaderboard by almost half a second.

Light rain began falling and the following lap saw another red flag come out after Armstrong spun and went off in Turn 8. Although the hybrid technology allows for the possibility to self-start, he was unable to get it refired and required assistance from the AMR Safety Team.

At the same time, Dale Coyne Racing’s Jack Harvey spun off in Turn 2 and also needed assistance to get going again.

After a lengthy delay, Arrow McLaren’s Pato O’Ward went out on track with rain tires with less than 10 minutes to go, followed by Andretti Global’s Kyle Kirkwood.

Despite the persistent rain enough to dampen the track, there wasn’t enough moisture down on the track surface for the tires to work correctly but it remained too wet to use the softer alternate slick compound.

The wet weather persisted, with few takers to go out on track to combat the conditions as rain isn’t planned in the forecast for the rest of the weekend.

IndyCar Mid-Ohio Free Practice 1 Results 

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