(ST PETERSBURG, FL) – Sebastien Bourdais was fortunate to collect his second straight victory at St Petersburg after rookie Robert Wickens and Alexander Rossi wrecked on lap 109 of 110. Bourdais, who lives in St Petersburg during the IndyCar off-season, qualified 14th.
“It definitely seems like this race is disjointed enough that it doesn’t really seem to matter where you start, you’re still going to have opportunities to make it happen, and we sure did today,” Bourdais said.
Wickens started from the pole position and led for 69 laps. However, on a restart on Lap 108, Rossi’s car slide into Wickens during a pass maneuver and the young driver’s day was over.
“I ended my day with one lap left in the race. Not the way I imagined the day going,” said Wickens. “It was all a little bit confusing because I was told on the radio we were going green, but they didn’t turn the lights off the pace car, so I didn’t get the best restart I could have done.”
Rossi finished third.
“The run was perfect for me going into Turn 1, and I knew there wasn’t going to be many other opportunities (to pass Wickens),” said Rossi. “Obviously he had a good car all day, and they did a great job. I made the pop. He defended the position, which he has the right to do, but in doing so, in moving the reaction, he put me into the marbles pretty late into the corner.”
Graham Rahal was trailing Wickens and Rossi and managed to avoid the collision scene to cross the line behind Bourdais.
“We will take second any day,” Rahal said. “It’s the best start to a season I have had since I won here in 2008.”
Canadian James Hinchcliffe, WIckens’ team mate, and Rossi’s team mate, Ryan Hunter-Reay, finished 4th and 5th, respectively.
“It wasn’t quite the ending we wanted, but it was a good race,” said Hinchcliffe. “Gutted for Robbie (Wickens) obviously, it was a storybook race from pole, but a few laps to go going for the win, Alex (Rossi) is a fast, aggressive guy and we knew something was going to be tried at least, and it’s unfortunate he ended up there.”
The race had five caution flags in the first 40 laps as drivers adjusted to the new, universal aero kits and the lower downforce levels on the cars. However, a record 366 passes were registered during the race, providing a much more exciting experience for the fans.
The IndyCar series resumes on April 7 as the Phoenix Grand Prix is scheduled to run under the lights at ISM Raceway.
ST PETERSBURG RESULTS
- (14) Sebastien Bourdais, Honda, 110, Running
- (24) Graham Rahal, Honda, 110, Running
- (12) Alexander Rossi, Honda, 110, Running
- (7) James Hinchcliffe, Honda, 110, Running
- (6) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Honda, 110, Running
- (9) Scott Dixon, Honda, 110, Running
- (13) Josef Newgarden, Chevrolet, 110, Running
- (17) Ed Jones, Honda, 110, Running
- (18) Marco Andretti, Honda, 110, Running
- (2) Will Power, Chevrolet, 110, Running
- (10) Tony Kanaan, Chevrolet, 110, Running
- (5) Takuma Sato, Honda, 110, Running
- (11) Simon Pagenaud, Chevrolet, 110, Running
- (8) Gabby Chaves, Chevrolet, 110, Running
- (16) Spencer Pigot, Chevrolet, 109, Running
- (15) Zach Veach, Honda, 109, Running
- (22) Zachary Claman De Melo, Honda, 109, Running
- (1) Robert Wickens, Honda, 108, Contact
- (20) Max Chilton, Chevrolet, 108, Running
- (21) Charlie Kimball, Chevrolet, 107, Running
- (4) Jordan King, Chevrolet, 107, Running
- (23) Rene Binder, Chevrolet, 100, Contact
- (19) Jack Harvey, Honda, 38, Off Course
- (3) Matheus Leist, Chevrolet, 16, Contact