St Petersburg IndyCar: James Hinchcliffe claims maiden win

James Hinchcliffe took the first IndyCar win of his career in the season-opening race in St Petersburg

St Petersburg IndyCar: James Hinchcliffe claims maiden win

The Canadian was a frontrunner throughout the afternoon and proved especially adept on restarts, claiming second from Will Power early in the race, retaking second from Power again on a subsequent restart, and then taking the lead from Helio Castroneves on a late restart when the Penske driver went wide at the first corner.

Hinchcliffe remained under constant pressure from Castroneves in the final laps, but held on to win by just over one second.

Completing the podium was Hinchcliffe's Andretti Autosport team-mate Marco Andretti, who took the position from Simona de Silvestro with two laps remaining. It was an encouraging result for the American, who spent the winter specifically working to address his weakness on street circuits.

De Silvestro, meanwhile, was a constant presence in the top five until fading tyres began to get the better of her in the closing laps.

Initially it seemed that her main threat was going to come from her new KV team-mate when Tony Kanaan worked his way up to her rear wing, but before the Brazilian could make a move he himself was passed by Andretti.

That left de Silvestro exposed, and while she was able to keep the Andretti Autosport car at bay for a couple of laps with the help of her last couple of hits of push-to-pass, she went wide into the last corner with two laps remaining and gave Andretti an easy route through.

To make matters worse she also lost places to Kanaan and Scott Dixon, who triumphed in a three-way drag race with the KV car and EJ Viso to claim fifth.

It was a great result for the Kiwi, who had started from 20th, and he felt that it could have been even better had he not lost a wastegate late in the race, resulting in a loss of boost on the restart.

Tristan Vautier made an impression on his IndyCar debut, running in the top six until an exhaust problem forced him to retire. An identical glitch also accounted for his team-mate Simon Pagenaud, and if the Schmidt Peterson team was frustrated, it at least had plenty of company.

Race one of Ryan Hunter-Reay's championship defence ended with a DNF when he was forced to park with a mechanical problem, while 2012 rival Power's afternoon did not go much better.

The Australian had led the opening stint before losing places to Castroneves and Hinchcliffe on restarts, but his real undoing came when JR Hildebrand became distracted by his cockpit controls and ran into the Penske car during a caution, launching himself into the air.

That forced Power into the pits to have a right-rear puncture repaired, and his race ended a short time later when he hit the barriers.

Other high-profile retirees included Dario Franchitti, who made a mistake on cold tyres and hit the Turn 3 wall on lap 18.

Results - 110 laps:

Pos  Driver               Team/Car                        Time/Gap
 1.  James Hinchcliffe    Andretti Dallara-Chevy     2h22m12.5502s
 2.  Helio Castroneves    Penske Dallara-Chevy           + 1.0982s
 3.  Marco Andretti       Andretti Dallara-Chevy        + 16.3664s
 4.  Tony Kanaan          KV Dallara-Chevy              + 19.6083s
 5.  Scott Dixon          Ganassi Dallara-Honda         + 20.7627s
 6.  Simona de Silvestro  KV Dallara-Chevy              + 20.7890s
 7.  EJ Viso              Andretti Dallara-Chevy        + 20.8229s
 8.  Takuma Sato          Foyt Dallara-Honda            + 21.1878s
 9.  Justin Wilson        Coyne Dallara-Honda           + 21.6832s
10.  Alex Tagliani        Herta Dallara-Honda           + 22.5569s
11.  Sebastien Bourdais   Dragon Dallara-Chevy          + 22.7354s
12.  Charlie Kimball      Ganassi Dallara-Honda         + 24.5429s
13.  Graham Rahal         Rahal Dallara-Honda           + 37.5324s
14.  Ed Carpenter         Carpenter Dallara-Chevy       + 45.2054s
15.  James Jakes          Rahal Dallara-Honda           + 45.7793s
16.  Will Power           Penske Dallara-Chevy            + 3 laps
17.  Oriol Servia         Panther/DRR Dallara-Chevy       + 6 laps

Retirements:

     Ryan Hunter-Reay     Andretti Dallara-Chevy           79 laps
     JR Hildebrand        Panther Dallara-Chevy            78 laps
     Sebastian Saavedra   Dragon Dallara-Chevy             72 laps
     Tristan Vautier      Schmidt Dallara-Honda            69 laps
     Ana Beatriz          Coyne Dallara-Honda              55 laps
     Josef Newgarden      Fisher Dallara-Honda             50 laps
     Simon Pagenaud       Schmidt Dallara-Honda            26 laps
     Dario Franchitti     Ganassi Dallara-Honda            18 laps
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St Petersburg IndyCar: Takuma Sato eyes win despite Chevy pace
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