Saturday, July 19, 2014

Saturday at the races - @HondaIndy 2014

The excitement continues on day two of the Honda Indy Toronto race weekend. The 2inTO has an IndyCar race today and tomorrow so stayed tuned for more photos and coverage of the racing. The weather did not cooperate and the Saturday race was deferred until Sunday where two races are now scheduled. This makes history as the first time the double header will happen on the same day. Saturday's IndyCar practice also allows the drivers to get used to a standing start which will be used in the first race. During Race #1 will happen after two formation laps.
Will Power of the #12 verizon Team Penske car, above, is a former two-time winner on the Streets of Toronto. He is noted as the best IndyCar driver on road courses. As he has noted, you have to finish a race to win and has a series leading streak of running at the finish of each race.
Two qualifying groups for IndyCar are decided by the combined times of the two practice sessions on Saturday. Group one will take to the track first with the pole position awarded to driver with the best overall lap time. The Saturday IndyCar pre-race was scheduled to begin at 3:00 pm with the race to follow at about 3:45 pm. When a pace car spun off due to heavy rain in the initial formation laps before the wave of the green flag, the race was eventually called off. The initial light rain resulted in a race which was to be a timed 85 lap or two hours, whichever came first, before it was shortened to 65 laps and eventually all remaining Saturday events, including the first IndyCar race was cancelled at 6:15 pm.
Drivers were faced with reduced visibility and slick conditions agreed with the postponement but felt disappointment for the fans. Helio Castroneves #3 said "Obviously we all wanted to get the race in today, but this was the correct call. We really tried to start the race but it was clear that we were going to wreck a lot of cars."  Juan Pablo Montoya #2 stated that "I really hate it for the fans. You never want to feel like you cheated them, but you can't control the weather." Race #1 is now scheduled for Sunday, July 20 at 10:30 am with a rolling start. And the second race is now scheduled to follow at 4:15 pm.
The Toronto Sun Grid Girls made appearances throughout the day as they promoted the upcoming contest which is scheduled for Sunday - see my photos of the girls here. For ladies of the Honda Indy Toronto 2014 see my photos here.
Going into race 1 Sebastien Bourdais claimed the first Verizon award of 2014 as he took the pole position, his career 32nd, with Will Power qualifying second and Helio Castronevers qualifying third. Sebastien said that "The track was getting better. It's a bit of a casino race here. Anything can happen." Qualifying for the Verizon P1 award consists of three parts; segment one qualifying with the fastest six cars advancing to segment two.  The fastest six in segment two move into the Firestone Fast Six Shootout with pole position based on their fastest laps. James Hinchliffe #27 had a 9th pole position and last was Marco Andretti #25 at the 23rd pole position.
Lake Shore Blvd - Thunder Alley

All the cars have a Dallara IR-12 chasis and use Firestone tires while the engines are either Chevy or Honda. The Chip Ganassi Racing team (CGRT) of Scott Dixon #9 and Tony Kanaan #10 use Chevrolet 2.2 litre twin turbocharged V6 engines in the 2014 season. The engines produce 600 horsepower and almost 300 lb ft of torque.

The major changes at this year's motorsports event was the impact of the new hotel just south of Pit Lane. Not only was construction of the large building impacting the available land but they also excavated a historic foundation which they have to preserve. To accommodate the construction area they had to reduce the exit to pit lane and move the start of pit lane back up into turn 11 near the pedestrian bridge.
Formula 1600 cars coming out of turn 6

Mazda Road to the Indy includes three series, two of them are competing in Toronto - the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and the Indy Lights presented by Cooper Tires.
Starting grid for the Pirelli World Challenge line up at the Direct Energy exit leading to turn 10. Five series races were to take place on Saturday - the Formula 1600, the Pirelli World Challenge, Stadium Super Trucks, IndyCar and USF2000.

The gorgeous sports cars of the WC series, above, include makes like the Lamborghini, Camaro, Cadillac, Ferrari, Mustang, Dodge Viper and Porsche. In Saturday's second WC practice Nick Tandy, Andrew Palmer and James Sofronas turned in the best times with the leader having a speed of 89.697 mph.

It's interesting to see luxury auto brand Cadillac in the WC series. The Cadillac CTS VR has performed very well on street circuits and they hope to continue their dominance on the Toronto track. Johnny O'Connell of Cadillac Racing says "The Toronto circuit is very challenging. Lots of surface changes that test both the driver and engineer" and he continues "We've shown that on street circuits we can compete against the GT3 cars."
The weekend was promoted as a series of festivals - motorfest, tastefest, craft beer fest, adrenalinefest, celebrationfest and indyfest.  The Honda World Junior Red Riders were beside BMO field and the IndyCar Paddock, tastefest, craft beer garden and the interactive exhibits located inside the track area. Outside the track was Victory Circle, the Dr Pepper area and in the Direct Energy Centre was the motorfest area which contained the sports car challenge and the support series paddocks.

Adjacent to the beer garden was the STIHL Timbersports stage where lumberjacks competed in several events like the standing block chop, STIHL stock saw, underhand chop, single buck, springboard and hot saw, in the 2014 STIHL Timbersports Canadian Championships during the July 18-20 weekend. Qualifying was Saturday with the championship finals held on Sunday.
Vancouver native Scott Hargrove won the Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Chalenge race #1 on Saturday. Scott has won four of the five 2014 series races and was a USF2000 2013 Champion.

The fire fighter competition

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