Toronto IndyCar: Sebastien Bourdais takes first win since Champ Car
|By Mark Glendenning||Sunday, July 20th 2014, 16:41 GMT|
Sebastien Bourdais dominated the postponed opening race of IndyCar's Toronto double-header to take his first series win since his final Champ Car victory at Mexico City in 2007.
At a track where he won in Champ Car exactly 10 years ago, Bourdais started from pole and never looked remotely under threat.
For much of the morning he maintained a lead of more than three seconds, and his final margin of 3.3s could have been even greater had he not lost time in traffic in the final laps.
"This is really sweet," the KV driver said. "That one didn't come easy. We've had to fight and wait for it for a long time, and today was one of the days where the stars align."
The Frenchman's only scare came late in the race when he hit a large piece of suspension that had been shed by Ryan Hunter-Reay's car.
"That was very worrisome because it was with 20 laps to go," he said. "After that you become really paranoid and start worrying about things that don't exist. But the tyre stayed together."
Helio Castroneves finished second; the points leader having capitalised when Hunter-Reay began to struggle with his tyres late in the first stint.
Tony Kanaan managed to pass the Andretti car at the same time, but a counter-attack by Hunter-Reay a few laps later ended with the American bouncing off the side of his Ganassi rival and hard into the wall.
Race control determined that the crash was a racing incident, and while Kanaan was able to continue on to chase Castroneves across the line in third, Hunter-Reay's car suffered severe suspension damage that ended his participation.
Simon Pagenaud was forced to dig deep for his fourth place after suffering damage in an opening lap clash with Luca Filippi, which put him to the back of the field.
Pagenaud's Schmidt team elected to gamble on a two-stopper, and the Frenchman made the most of clean air, a fast car, and some strong defensive driving on cold tyres to make the strategy pay off.
"The car was fantastic," he said. "It was a real shame what happened with Filippi at the start, but luckily we were able to get back on the track and the car was super-fast."
Scott Dixon rounded out the top five, despite not being completely happy with the handling of his car.
"We made up some positions early on and we made some changes, but I don't think we were aggressive enough," he said. "It was a strong result, and hopefully we can improve on it for the second race."
There was no shortage of action elsewhere in the field. The first start was red-flagged due to a multi-car pile-up on the opening lap that ended with damage for Pagenaud, Filippi, Josef Newgarden and Takuma Sato, although only Sato was unable to continue, while Mike Conway fell to the rear in the same incident after spinning to avoid contact.
Newgarden switched to a similar two-stop strategy to Pagenaud, and was battling Will Power for 10th late in the race when he outbraked himself, skidded into an escape road, and then broke his rear suspension against the barrier while trying to spin the car back around.
Earlier, suspension damage also accounted for Filippi, who was running in fifth when he glanced the wall.
The grid for the day's second race will be based on entrant points at the end of Sunday morning's outing, meaning that Castroneves is expected to line up on pole ahead of Power, Pagenaud, Hunter-Reay and Montoya. The afternoon race is scheduled to have a standing start.
Results - 65 laps: Pos Driver Team/Engine Time/Gap 1. Sebastien Bourdais KV/Chevy 1h15m44.3232s 2. Helio Castroneves Penske/Chevy +3.3408s 3. Tony Kanaan Ganassi/Chevy +4.8655s 4. Simon Pagenaud Schmidt/Honda +5.4271s 5. Scott Dixon Ganassi/Chevy +12.5472s 6. Graham Rahal Rahal/Honda +15.5804s 7. Charlie Kimball Ganassi/Chevy +28.6978s 8. James Hinchcliffe Andretti/Honda +31.1677s 9. Will Power Penske/Chevy +33.1220s 10. Justin Wilson Coyne/Honda +33.7258s 11. Mikhail Aleshin Schmidt/Honda +39.0741s 12. Ryan Briscoe Ganassi/Chevy +43.3621s 13. Jack Hawksworth Herta/Honda +58.3644s 14. Carlos Huertas Coyne/Honda +58.4969s 15. Mike Conway Carpenter/Chevy +58.9383s 16. Marco Andretti Andretti/Honda +1m01.4298s 17. Carlos Munoz Andretti/Honda +1m01.7675s 18. Juan Pablo Montoya Penske/Chevy -1 lap 19. Sebastian Saavedra KV/Chevy -1 lap 20. Josef Newgarden Fisher/Honda -2 laps Retirements: Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti/Honda 39 laps Luca Filippi Rahal/Honda 17 laps Takuma Sato Foyt/Honda 10 laps All drivers use Dallara chassis