INDIANAPOLIS — Sebastien Bourdais was the quickest on the first day of Indianapolis 500 testing at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Thursday.
The session was interrupted for five hours at one point due to rain, but with the track dried out by 6:00 Thursday evening track activity picked back up with Bourdais finishing atop the speed chart for the session with a best lap of 224.427 mph.
He was one of several veterans returning after a hiatus last year and needed to conduct a veteran’s refresher on the oval.
“Pretty good refresher,” Bourdais said. “That ROKiT car was pretty good. It always feels a little different when you start at low speeds and the car’s never really settled, but we got through both phases and are ready to go tomorrow and start working properly. It’s all good.”
Bourdais only ran a couple of road races for Foyt at the end of the 2020 season and did not run the Indy 500.
Helio Castroneves, Sage Karam, Juan Pablo Montoya, James Hinchcliffe, and Simona De Silvestro had to complete refreshers as well in a day where overall speed really wasn’t the main goal. It was a day for drivers to get an initial feel for their cars. One driver who wasn’t really able to do that was Rinus Veekay of Ed Carpenter Racing, who crashed after turning just a couple of laps just 11 minutes into the test session.
“I wanted to do as many laps as possible to be successful,” VeeKay said. “I’m very sorry to the team. Very unfortunate. It was a weird moment.”
Veekay broke his finger in the wreck but otherwise came away from it unscathed. His car owner, Ed Carpenter said he and his other driver, Conor Daly, were able to turn in a handful of laps at speed.
“I think at this stage we ran so few laps and a lot of guys haven’t run, so don’t read too much into it,” Carpenter said. “You know, the initial feel is pretty good.”
Carpenter is eager to get back to running the race in the month of May after having to run the race in August last year in front of an empty grandstand at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway due to pandemic restrictions in Marion County.
He said it’s imperative that fans be back at the race this year.
“The town needs it, the country needs it,” said Carpenter. “You know, just seeing the incredible job the city did with the NCAA Tournament in town, you know, you sense that everyone is ready to get back to a normal schedule.”
Cars will have another opportunity to test again on Friday starting at 9:00 a.m. with a much more favorable forecast in which to get some work done.