Rain not expected to be issue at Indy Toronto

TORONTO — It may be the middle of summer in Toronto, but Will Power thinks the streets surrounding Exhibition Place could have an element of a Canadian winter on Sunday afternoon.

Rain threatens to make for slick conditions at the Honda Indy Toronto, where Power is the defending champion.

“Everyone is kind of on their tippy toes trying to make sure they don’t make a mistake, it’s kind of like racing on ice,” Power said at a press conference ahead of the event.

“We have no problem racing in the rain, if anything I think it might make the racing better. It will be good for the fans.”

Sunday’s forecast is calling for a high of 24C with cloudy skies and a 60 per cent chance of showers, according to Environment Canada.

The possibility of rain in Toronto is nothing new for the 36-year-old Power, who dealt with similar conditions 10 years ago.

“I won in 2007, a wet but drying race. To me it creates a lot of action, a lot of racing, very good for the fans and tough for the drivers,” he said. ”It’s not a bad thing.”

Event president Jeff Atkinson said that the predicted weather could add to the race and make it interesting.

“We’ve seen the weather here in Toronto the last couple weeks. It will say rain on the forecast and it will just be a gorgeous day,” Atkinson said. ”It’s hard for us to guess what the conditions are going to be, but yes, if there are variables at play in terms of weather, the race set up for these competitors will be different. It will be an exciting race rain or shine.”

Adding a challenging element to the Toronto are several concrete patches around the track. Atkinson said that the area between Turns 6 and 8 have been re-surfaced and pit end was changed from concrete to asphalt. Five feet of track has also been added at Turn 11.

Power, who won his third Toronto race last year after a decision to pit on Lap 58 worked to his advantage, said that the concrete is very slippery but driveable.

“When you race in the wet, the grip level is reduced so much and the braking zones are so much higher,” he said. ”It’s way easier to make a mistake, it’s way easier to get into the wall.”

Power enters this weekend in fourth place in the Verizon IndyCar Series driver standings — 53 points behind leader Scott Dixon, who won the pole position in Toronto last year.

Power has two wins this season, capturing the IndyCar Grand Prix and Rainguard Water Sealers 600, and four pole positions. He’s also finished in the Top 5 for four straight races.

Returning to a place where he’s had so much success in the past is a bonus.

“You always feel good coming into a race that you’ve won before. Your team feels confident, you feel confident,” Power said. ”But you still have to do your homework, you still have to really think about and execute. You can’t sit there thinking, ‘We’re good,’ you feel like you’re going to be safe and fast. I’m very focused on the event this weekend.”

Practice for the IndyCar event starts on Friday with qualifying taking place on Saturday before race day on Sunday.

Note: Sebastien Saavedra will replace Mikhail Aleshin in the Schmidt Peterson Motorsports No. 7 car. Schmidt Peterson Motorsports said Aleshin will be at Toronto this weekend supporting the team, but weren’t providing any more details. Canadian James Hinchcliffe of Oakville, Ont., also races for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

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