Hornish runs at Motegi

Indy Racing League champion Sam Hornish Jr became the first driver to test an IRL car at Twin Ring Motegi when he ran 120 laps of the Japanese track on Thursday

Hornish runs at Motegi

In conditions that ranged from sunny to overcast, Hornish recorded a fastest lap of 26.973s (206.606mph) on the first of his three days of testing. This compares to Bruno Junqueira's pole position lap of 25.907s, set when the Champ Cars visited earlier this year.

The Honda-owned circuit will stage its first ever IRL meet on April 13 next year, and Hornish's first impressions were positive.

"I think the track is very, very nice," he said. "It's wide, and it's fast. It's going to lend itself to some very competitive racing. As far as qualifying set-up, we're probably looking at speeds of around 210mph, maybe higher depending on the weather.

"Any track that isn't easy flat-out, I like. The more difficult the track is, the better I like it. So, this track is one I think I'll really like this year."

Hornish was joined at the test by Japanese driver Hideki Noda, who was on hand to treat members of the large media gathering to rides in a two-seater IRL chassis.

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