Qualifying Report: GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma

SONOMA, Calif. Aug. 29, 2015–“It was a tough qualifying session for us,” Takuma Sato said after climbing from his car.

And so it was. Sato will start 18th while Jack Hawksworth will start 25th. Hawksworth lost power and oiled down the track as he made his way back to the pits before he could lay down a lap on the faster, alternate (red) tires.

Sato posted a time of 1 minute, 17.55 seconds (110.702mph) around the picturesque 2.3 mile road course in northern California. “We struggled for speed throughout the practice session but then the car was improved after the first run in qualifying, so I had a positive feeling,” Sato said. “Unfortunately there was a bit of traffic on course when we were on our quick lap, so we weren’t quick enough to get through to the second segment. Last year we made a good improvement in the warmup session on race day, so I guess we have to do that again.”

Indeed, after qualifying 14th last year, Sato was able to snare a fourth place finish in the event through a combination of an improved car set-up and savvy race strategy.

Hawksworth also struggled for speed this weekend. The team made changes to the car for qualifying but never got the chance to see whether it would be fast enough to break through to the next segment. He posted a time of 1 minute, 19.04 seconds (108.627mph).

“We went out there, did a couple laps on the black tires, came in for the reds [tires] and made some changes,” Hawksworth said. “It felt a bit better but then we had an engine issue and lost power. It was not a good day. We’ll try and have a good one tomorrow.”

Will Power won the Verizon P1 award with his time of 1 minute, 16.25 seconds (112.589 mph). Rounding out the Firestone Fast 6 were Josef Newgarden, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud, Juan Pablo Montoya and Graham Rahal.

The GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network starting at 4 p.m. ET.