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Preparations on plan but Fernando Alonso remains off the pace ahead of Indy 500

The Independent logo The Independent 17/05/2017 Sports Staff
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Fernando Alonso survived his first Brickyard "Happy Hour" on Tuesday, finishing in 24th out of 33 cars, but continues to remain off the pace ahead of the Indianapolis 500 later this month.

The twice Formula One world champion is getting a taste of what he can expect when he lines up for the race as he took part in what was his third practice session at the track.

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Alonso, who is missing the Monaco GP for the American race, completed 117 laps in his McLaren Honda Andretti Autosport around the sprawling 2.5 mile oval before participating in what is known as "Happy Hour".

The final 60 minutes of the day-long practise session attempts to simulate classic race conditions from the Indy 500 and saw most of the 33 cars attempting to qualify.

"It was good, very positive and productive day," said Alonso, who has put learning to drive in the traffic and turbulence as his biggest challenge. "We did a lot of laps, a lot of learning, some group running, finally with some traffic.

"So, it is information I will sleep on and be a better oval driver tomorrow."

Alonso still has plenty of work to do, though, producing the 24th best effort of the 33 cars on the track on Tuesday with a top speed of 221.029 mph.

As part of the Andretti Autosport stable that will field six cars for the race, Alonso is benefiting from the experience of his team mates that include last year's winner Alexander Rossi and 2014 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.

"I'm on the best team for that; we are six cars and we were running together," explained Alonso. "My teammates were amazing helping me.

"I was learning every lap, when I follow them, learning what they do, how they attack the next corner or the next lap, how they prepare the overtaking, so, it was very useful and a very productive day."

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 is chasing a record equalling fourth Indy 500 win.

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