British F3 champion Lundqvist wins as Indy Lights returns from hiatus
One-time BRDC British Formula 3 champion Linus Lundqvist took a dominant victory from pole in the first Indy Lights race staged since 2019, after its COVID-19 enforced cancellation last year.
Following its season of inactivity, the IndyCar Series' feeder championship returned with a 13-car entry, an improvement on the eight AER-powered Dallara IL-15s that started its last race at Laguna Seca in September 2019.
Swedish 22-year-old Lundqvist, the 2018 British F3 champion, was an expected favourite after scoring 15 wins from 17 races on his way to the Formula Regional Americas championship last season.
The Global Racing Group with HMD driver pipped stablemate and 2020 rival David Malukas to pole and led away at the start, but Malukas was nudged under braking for Turn 1 by the third-placed car of Andretti Autosport’s Kyle Kirkwood.
The contact sent Malukas off track and into the Turn 1 tire barrier, breaking 2019 Indy Pro 2000 champion Kirkwood’s front wing. The former was out on the spot, while Kirkwood pitted for a new nose-wing assembly and would take the race restart from the rear of the grid.
Lundqvist’s team-mate Benjamin Pedersen was thus promoted to second ahead of Toby Sowery’s Juncos Racing entry, the Andretti Steinbrenner Autosport car of ex-FIA F3 racer Devlin DeFrancesco and the Carlin car of Alex Peroni.
When the race resumed on lap 5, Lundqvist immediately pulled away while Sowery sought to find a way past Pedersen.
HMD team celebrate
Photo by: Indy Lights
But a mistake from Sowery - entering his first race since the 2019 Indy Lights finale - on lap 8 cost the Briton third place to DeFrancesco, who gratefully accepted the gift and moved up into third.
The positions remained unchanged to the flag, with Lundqvist taking victory by 5.3s over Denmark's Pedersen, who managed one British F3 win with Double R last year.
DeFrancesco completed the podium ahead of Sowery and Peroni, while 2019 Lights race winner Robert Megennis (Andretti Autosport) held off a four-car train of team-mate Danial Frost, reigning Indy Pro 2000 champion Sting Ray Robb (Juncos) and the recovering Kirkwood to finish sixth.
Malukas will start tomorrow's second race from pole, ahead of Lundqvist and Megennis.