(Reuters) - Fernando Alonso survived his first Brickyard “Happy Hour” on Tuesday, the twice Formula One world champion getting a taste of what he can expect when he lines up for the Indianapolis 500 later this month.
The practise session was just the third at the famous oval for Alonso, who will miss the next stop on the F1 calendar, the Monte Carlo Grand Prix, to race the Indy 500 in a bid to claim the second jewel in motor racing’s Triple Crown -- victories at the Monaco Grand Prix, Indianapolis 500 and Le Mans.
After what was basically a shakedown of his McLaren Honda Andretti Autosport car on Monday, Alonso put down 117 laps around the sprawling 2.5 mile oval and got a feel for what it might be like race day participating in what is known as “Happy Hour”.
The final 60 minutes of the day-long practise session saw most of the 33 cars attempting to qualify for the May 28 classic take to the track simulating race conditions for the unfamiliar Alonso, who has put learning to drive in the traffic and turbulence as his biggest challenge.
The Spaniard will have to find his comfort zone and some more speed if he is to add an Indy 500 win to his resume that includes two wins at Monaco.
Alonso produced the 24th best effort of the 33 cars on the track on Tuesday with a top speed of 221.029 mph, well below the 223 mph lap he put down on Monday.
Powerhouse Penske Racing dominated Day Two with Australian Will Power at the top of timing charts, posting the fastest lap of 224.656 mph followed by team mate Brazilian Helio Castroneves, who goes into the May 28 race chasing a record equalling fourth Indy 500 win.
“This is the big one, and we are working as a team trying to get the best out of it,” Castroneves. “We’ve just got to focus on our work.”
Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Larry Fine