Honda Indy

2018 Honda Indy Preview

Greg Bowman

The Honda Indy is happening this weekend in Toronto, Ontario, as the lakeshore will be home to the only Canadian stop on the Indycar tour. It is a weekend-long event held at Exhibition Place that features many races throughout Saturday and Sunday, all leading up to the final Indycar Series race on Sunday afternoon.

Thursday was the day for drivers to get a feel for the facilities, as their teams are setting up their equipment, ensuring everything is up to standards, while giving the drivers a chance to interact amongst each other, the media and fans. The pre-race press conference saw a couple batches of drivers from various races and backgrounds give introductory words, and field questions in a Q & A. The atmosphere was an interesting one. Despite the fact that the drivers are adversaries on the track, they are extremely friendly with one another off the track. Various times drivers would take friendly jabs at one another while giving their answers, especially the select English drivers who just had to watch their soccer team get eliminated from the World Cup. It is clear that the drivers are all motivated to win, but have the utmost respect for those they race against.

Friday will be a day full of practice runs for all the different races. It will give the drivers a chance to get a feel for the track which takes over the streets of downtown Toronto. The track features a long straightaway down Lakeshore blvd, while making turns on Ontario drive, Princes’ blvd, Manitoba drive, and Nova Scotia ave. The course circles Toronto hotspots such as BMO Field and the Beanfield Centre, while running adjacent to Ricoh Coliseum. The 2.8km long track is one of nine street courses on the Indycar Series. The Honda Indy is the only Canadian stop on the tour, which also features races in Japan, Australia, Brazil and the United States.

Saturday and Sunday is when the cars come out and show what they have to offer, as they are days full of racing from the crack of dawn. Saturday’s first major race is the Pro Mazda Championship series race. The race is the second step on the road to the Indycar Series, and the winner of the Pro Mazda Cup gets a chance to compete at the next level of the ladder. Following the Mazda Championship will be the USF2000 Cup by Mazda, which is actually the step before the Mazda Cup on the Mazda Road to the Indycar Series. Brazilian driver Igor Fraga will be competing for Exclusive Autosport with hopes of advancing themselves up the ladder of the series. That race is then followed by the Indy Lights Race which is the final step of the ladder before the big dance of the Indycar Series.

The Indycar Series will then do their qualifying run for pole positioning, which will be followed by the NASCAR Pinty’s Series Race. Veteran Canadian racer Alex Tagliani will be competing in the race, as he will be looking for his first win of 2018, and seventh of his career in this particular series.

Rounding out the day of racing will be the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge. As one might expect, is a race full of Porsche cars. Last year’s gold winner Roman De Angelis will look to improve on his already impressive career. At just 16 years old, he is the youngest driver in the Cup’s history. He picked up his first platinum victory just one month ago at Montreal’s Circuit Gilles Villeneuve.

Sunday will follow a similar schedule of races, with the USF2000, Pro Mazda, and Indy Lights series all running a second race. That will make way for the main attraction: the Indycar Series Race. Last year’s champion Josef Newgarden will have a chance at his third career title. Also gunning for the three-peat is veteran racer Sebastien Bourdais, who won his first Honda Indy almost 15 years ago. All the attention, however, will surely be on Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe. The Oakville, Ontario native has been attending the Honda Indy since he was a small child, but the closest he has ever come to winning were two third place finishes which he attained in the past two years. Hinchcliffe comes into this year’s Honda Indy ranked 8th in the series with one win this season, which came in his last race on July 8th in Iowa Corn 300. He will look to ride the momentum of his recent win to make his way up the series standings. He would be the second-ever Canadian to win the Honda Indy (Paul Tracy, 1993, 2003).

Indycar’s second-longest street race turns Ontario’s capital into a racing hotbed for one weekend every July. It gives those who may not be interested in racing an opportunity to check out a new sport. The first competitive race will be the Pro Mazda Championship at 10:50am on Saturday morning.