Despite a clear day with a sun-kissed track surface, the wind and ambient temperature allowed for a less-than comfortable opening practice for the 59th running of the Purdue Grand Prix. The first practice open to all teams, free practice 1 occurred just three days after Rookie Practice on Tuesday, April 5.
Times were noticeably improved from just two days before – mostly due to the slightly better conditions along with the experienced part of the Purdue Grand Prix paddock hitting the asphalt alongside newcomers.
With this being the first regular practice of the year, all teams are simply looking to shake the cobwebs off and put miles on their karts. Though the million dollar circuit and facility is one of the best in North America, the track has changed with age; a new personality every year forcing even the most seasoned veterans to themselves.
Familiar at the sharp end of the field, reigning three-time champion, Jimmy Simpson, piloted his No. 1 Delts Racing kart to the top of the charts with a best time of 26.129s. At 0.6s slower than his pole time from last year, Simpson will still be satisfied with the time being 0.65s faster than his closest competitor.
Simpson wasn’t the only recognizable name at the pointy end of the pack as James Schnabel put in a time of 26.779s in his No. 2 IUPUI Motorsports Club entry. James is no stranger to the Purdue Grand Prix, finishing fourth last year. Schnabel’s IUPUI teammate, Brenden Johnson, recorded the fastest time in rookie practice. Look for some important development in this two-car team this year.
Rounding out the top three, rookie Jacob Knueven continues his strong showing with a time of 26.890s in the No. 30 Car Racing GP2 kart. Knueven was second fastest in rookie practice and seems to have plenty of speed. The Cary Quadrangle-backed team has been strong here in the past with Knueven’s team mate, veteran Eli Salamie, just missing the top five in this session.
Filling out the top five was rookie Brenden Johnson in the No. 4 IUPUI Motorsports Club entry and Camden Speth in the No. 88 McCutcheon Racing machine with times of 26.980 and 27.089, respectively. It’s no surprise to see these two near the top with Johnson being fast in rookie practice and Speth showing strong last year, his 2015 race ending early with contact.
Times will continue to fall as teams change from “shakedown” mode to fine tuning with more laps on the Purdue Grand Prix race track. With practice canceled Wednesday and Friday, the next time the paddock is expected at the track is Saturday morning, April 9. Purdue Grand Prix coverage will continue to be featured on the Slipstream Network at SlipstreamNetwork.com/purduegp. Slipstream Network is also working hard to feature live commentary of Purdue Grand Prix practice and qualifying, which can also be found at the link above.