Scott Dixon opened the 2012 IndyCar season by setting the fastest time in the first practice session at St Petersburg.

The Chip Ganassi Racing team waited until the hour-long session was half over before sending Dixon and team-mate Dario Franchitti out onto the track, and Dixon set his best time of 1m03.0406s with 11 minutes still on the clock.

Up to that point, Penske driver Ryan Briscoe had been the pace-setter, his best lap of 1m03.5190s ultimately proving 0.4784s shy of Dixon’s best, but still good enough to keep the Australian ahead of the rest of the field.

Briscoe’s team-mate Will Power was third quickest ahead of Franchitti, whose session was punctuated with a brief trip down the escape road at Turn 10.