IndyCar St Petersburg: Bourdais wins season-opener from back of grid

Sebastien Bourdais pulled off a surprise victory in the IndyCar season opener in St Petersburg, advancing from the back of the grid to head home compatriot Simon Pagenaud

IndyCar St Petersburg: Bourdais wins season-opener from back of grid

Frenchman Bourdais, who moved to Dale Coyne Racing over the off-season, started the race from 21st after a crash during qualifying but made perfect use of an extra set of red 'alternate' tyres he had as a result to climb his way through the field.

An early caution neutralised the field as Charlie Kimball and Graham Rahal collided, that incident also involving Spencer Pigot and Carlos Munoz who both failed to finish.

But it was the second caution of the race, brought about on lap 26 of 110 when Tony Kanaan and Mikhail Aleshin made contact, that proved to be the turning point as Pagenaud and Bourdais moved to the head of chain, the pair opting to stay on-track as those ahead of them headed for the pitlane.

Bourdais spent some time behind Pagenaud, but made a move for the lead stick eight laps after the restart.

The four-time CART champion made his final pitstop on lap 82 and regained the lead a lap later when Pagenaud pitted, and maintained a sizeable gap over the Penske driver until the finish, winning by 10 seconds.

Ganassi driver Scott Dixon finished in third after a quiet afternoon, while Ryan Hunter-Reay recovered from a heavy crash in morning warm-up to finish fourth.

He finished one place clear of Andretti team-mate Takuma Sato, who had led the race during the final pitstop cycle.

Sato's afternoon nearly ended in disaster when a wheelgun jammed at his final stop, before coming close to a collision with Penske's Josef Newgarden at the pit exit, but he survived to claim a strong result on his debut for Andretti.

Helio Castroneves was sixth for Penske, ahead of Marco Andretti and Josef Newgarden, while James Hinchcliffe, who led briefly after the first restart, finished ninth having been caught out by the pits being closed for the Kanaan/Aleshin incident.

Dubai-based Briton Ed Jones, who is the only full-time rookie in IndyCar this year, finished his first race in 10th place having run as high as third in Coyne's second car.

Polesitter Will Power endured a difficult afternoon, and was classified in 19th.

The Australian made his first pitstop on lap 14 but collected a wheelgun as he rejoined the track, resulting in a drive-through penalty.

Despite working his way back up into the top 10, he slowed in the closing stages of the race, going a lap down on lap 94 before being black-flagged for dipping below the specified minimum speed.

RESULT - 110 LAPS:

Pos Driver Team Car Gap
1 Sebastien Bourdais Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda 2h04m32.4153s
2 Simon Pagenaud Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 10.3508s
3 Scott Dixon Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda 27.4985s
4 Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 36.1147s
5 Takuma Sato Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 36.1675s
6 Helio Castroneves Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 42.0285s
7 Marco Andretti Andretti Autosport Dallara/Honda 49.5217s
8 Josef Newgarden Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet 50.0443s
9 James Hinchcliffe Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda 58.8628s
10 Ed Jones Dale Coyne Racing Dallara/Honda 1m01.8611s
11 Alexander Rossi Andretti Herta Dallara/Honda 1 Lap
12 Tony Kanaan Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda 1 Lap
13 J.R. Hildebrand Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara/Chevrolet 1 Lap
14 Mikhail Aleshin Schmidt Peterson Motorsports Dallara/Honda 1 Lap
15 Conor Daly AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Chevrolet 1 Lap
16 Max Chilton Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda 1 Lap
17 Graham Rahal Rahal Letterman Lanigan Dallara/Honda 2 Laps
18 Charlie Kimball Chip Ganassi Racing Dallara/Honda 5 Laps
19 Will Power Team Penske Dallara/Chevrolet Mechanical
20 Spencer Pigot Ed Carpenter Racing Dallara/Chevrolet Mechanical
21 Carlos Munoz AJ Foyt Enterprises Dallara/Chevrolet Mechanical


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