Fernando Alonso kicked off his two-week Indy 500 adventure by finishing top of the rookies and refreshers test on the opening day of practice at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Having flown overnight from the Spanish Grand Prix to Indianapolis, Alonso climbed into the orange McLaren-Honda-Andretti car on Monday morning. The Spaniard, who is ditching the No.14 for No.29 for the next two weeks, completed 36 laps on the oval, setting a best average speed of 221.635mp/h -- a 40.607s lap of the circuit.
Unlike Formula One, practice sessions and qualifying at Indianapolis are dictated by top average speed. The first session is set aside for rookies and entrants returning after a significant absence from the vent. Alonso's mark put him narrowly above fellow Spaniard Oriol Servia, who clocked a 220.759mp/h.
Reigning IndyLights (the equivalent of F1 feeder series F2) champion Ed Jones finished third on a 210.288mp/h, ahead of Jay Howard (217.353mp/h) and Sebastian Saavedra (216/598mp/h). Former McLaren junior Jack Harvey, also driving for the Andretti Autosport stable, finished sixth with a 214.353mp/h. Zach Veach could only manage one warm-up run before the session ended.
Alonso will test every day this week before qualifying at the weekend. If he progresses through on Saturday he will make it through to Sunday's Pole Day. The race is held a week later on May 28, just hours after the completion of the Monaco Grand Prix McLaren allowed Alonso to miss in order to compete at IMS.