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IndyCar St Petersburg: Bourdais wins after late Wickens/Rossi clash

Sebastien Bourdais IndyCar St Petersburg 2018 victory lane

Sebastien Bourdais took a second consecutive win at St Petersburg in opportunistic fashion after Alexander Rossi collided with long-time race leader Robert Wickens late on challenging for the win.

Wickens and Rossi were in a tantalising battle throughout the final stint, both running a conventional three-stop strategy while Bourdais was off strategy following an early stop on lap two.

Bourdais was not in contention until early in that last stint, as Wickens dominated and led over half the laps of the race, but Rossi had a pace advantage over Wickens in the closing stages after working his way up from 12th on the grid.

Rossi looked set to have to settle for second late on after a slight error at Turn 9 in the final 20 tours of the 110-lap race allowed Wickens to bound clear.

But then a frenetic final five laps threw the race on its head with two full-course yellows - the seventh and eighth of the day - putting Wickens under pressure.

After he nailed the first restart, the second was a weaker launch and allowed Rossi to close on the long run down to Turn 1.

Rossi dived down the inside but lost grip and drifted into the side of Wickens, spinning the SPM driver out of the race and allowing Bourdais to stride through to lead.

With Wickens' spin causing the eighth and final caution, Bourdais cruised to an unlikely victory and his first since his huge Indianapolis 500 qualifying crash last year.

Now Wickens and Rossi were out of contention, it was Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing's Graham Rahal who finished second.

Rahal mimicked Bourdais' off-sequence strategy, pitting under an early caution to leapfrog his way up the field from 16th.

He was handed a further boost by with the final two caution periods, with SPM's James Hinchcliffe's call to use scrubbed red-walled tyres in the second stint and better fuel conservation looking set to hand him the chance to pass Rahal.

Rossi recovered from the clash with Wickens to take third, escaping any punishment for his collision with Wickens following an investigation by race officials.

Ryan Hunter-Reay was fifth for Andretti after he was forced to stop on the opening lap after an ECU problem forced a reset.

Chip Ganassi Racing's Scott Dixon summarised the randomness of the race, finishing sixth after he collided with Takuma Sato and was sent to the back of the field and then earned a penalty for speeding in the pitlane.

Reigning champion Josef Newgarden was the highest Penske finisher in seventh, splitting the two Ganassis of Dixon and Ed Jones. Marco Andretti and Will Power completed the top 10.

Max Chilton was 19th in a disappointing debut race for Carlin. Charlie Kimball retired early after running off the track at Turn 13, with Chilton causing the final caution and ending up two laps down.

Race result

1Sebastien BourdaisDale Coyne RacingDallara/Honda1102h17m48.4954s
2Graham RahalRahal Letterman LaniganDallara/Honda1100.1269s
3Alexander RossiAndretti AutosportDallara/Honda1100.7109s
4James HinchcliffeSchmidt Peterson MotorsportsDallara/Honda1101.5175s
5Ryan Hunter-ReayAndretti AutosportDallara/Honda1101.9907s
6Scott DixonChip Ganassi RacingDallara/Honda1102.2716s
7Josef NewgardenTeam PenskeDallara/Chevrolet1103.3842s
8Ed JonesChip Ganassi RacingDallara/Honda1104.2992s
9Marco AndrettiAndretti HertaDallara/Honda1104.8363s
10Will PowerTeam PenskeDallara/Chevrolet1106.1272s
11Tony KanaanAJ Foyt EnterprisesDallara/Chevrolet1106.5176s
12Takuma SatoRahal Letterman LaniganDallara/Honda1107.4005s
13Simon PagenaudTeam PenskeDallara/Chevrolet1107.9903s
14Gabby ChavesHarding RacingDallara/Chevrolet1109.2272s
15Spencer PigotEd Carpenter RacingDallara/Chevrolet1091 Lap
16Zach VeachAndretti AutosportDallara/Honda1091 Lap
17Zachary ClamanDale Coyne RacingDallara/Honda1091 Lap
18Robert WickensSchmidt Peterson MotorsportsDallara/Honda108Contact
19Max ChiltonCarlinDallara/Chevrolet1082 Laps
20Charlie KimballCarlinDallara/Chevrolet1073 Laps
21Jordan KingEd Carpenter RacingDallara/Chevrolet1073 Laps
22Rene BinderJuncos RacingDallara/Chevrolet100Contact
23Jack HarveyMichael Shank RacingDallara/Honda38Spun off
24Matheus LeistAJ Foyt EnterprisesDallara/Chevrolet16Contact

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