Tristan Vautier, who won one of the two Star Mazda races in Trois Rivieres, Quebec last year, led the way in opening practice for the Firestone Indy Lights at the venerable street course a lap of 58.1293sec on his final lap in the 45-minute practice session. The Frenchman's lap was just 0.0864sec faster than Belardi Auto Racing's Peter Dempsey.
"This year, the tracks I've been to, for sure it's a help [to have had success here before]. It's pretty similar to Star Mazda, the Firestone Indy Lights car is a lot on fun on this track – you have to look for traction," said Vautier. "The track is pretty narrow and the Indy Lights car is a little bigger, so there's a few adjustments to make, but so far it's been OK."
Vautier added that he was finding the more the spread-out schedule for the non-IndyCar support weekend a refreshing change.
"It's kind of more relaxed, it just changes your approach a bit. Tomorrow's going to be pretty busy – usually we have qualifying in the morning and race in the afternoon, tomorrow we have a practice then qualifying and it will be like Long Beach, so it just changes your routine a little bit. The hours you have to hit, and that kind of stuff, but it's not a big deal.
Dempsey, a former Star Mazda winner at GP3R, recorded a lap of 58.2157 seconds. Jorge Goncalvez, who finished on podium in the 2010 Star Mazda race on the course, finished third at 58.2960 seconds.
Last year's race winner and current points leader Esteban Guerrieri was fourth fastest at 58.5576 seconds. Sebastian Saavedra, who holds a one-point lead for second place in the championship over Vautier, was fifth at 58.5318 seconds.