IndyCar St Petersburg: Bourdais wins after late Wickens/Rossi clash
|By Tom Errington||Sunday, March 11th 2018, 19:29 GMT|
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.
|1||Sebastien Bourdais||Dale Coyne Racing||Dallara/Honda||110||2h17m48.4954s|
|2||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||Dallara/Honda||110||0.1269s|
|3||Alexander Rossi||Andretti Autosport||Dallara/Honda||110||0.7109s|
|4||James Hinchcliffe||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||Dallara/Honda||110||1.5175s|
|5||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||Dallara/Honda||110||1.9907s|
|6||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara/Honda||110||2.2716s|
|7||Josef Newgarden||Team Penske||Dallara/Chevrolet||110||3.3842s|
|8||Ed Jones||Chip Ganassi Racing||Dallara/Honda||110||4.2992s|
|9||Marco Andretti||Andretti Herta||Dallara/Honda||110||4.8363s|
|10||Will Power||Team Penske||Dallara/Chevrolet||110||6.1272s|
|11||Tony Kanaan||AJ Foyt Enterprises||Dallara/Chevrolet||110||6.5176s|
|12||Takuma Sato||Rahal Letterman Lanigan||Dallara/Honda||110||7.4005s|
|13||Simon Pagenaud||Team Penske||Dallara/Chevrolet||110||7.9903s|
|14||Gabby Chaves||Harding Racing||Dallara/Chevrolet||110||9.2272s|
|15||Spencer Pigot||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara/Chevrolet||109||1 Lap|
|16||Zach Veach||Andretti Autosport||Dallara/Honda||109||1 Lap|
|17||Zachary Claman||Dale Coyne Racing||Dallara/Honda||109||1 Lap|
|18||Robert Wickens||Schmidt Peterson Motorsports||Dallara/Honda||108||Contact|
|19||Max Chilton||Carlin||Dallara/Chevrolet||108||2 Laps|
|20||Charlie Kimball||Carlin||Dallara/Chevrolet||107||3 Laps|
|21||Jordan King||Ed Carpenter Racing||Dallara/Chevrolet||107||3 Laps|
|22||Rene Binder||Juncos Racing||Dallara/Chevrolet||100||Contact|
|23||Jack Harvey||Michael Shank Racing||Dallara/Honda||38||Spun off|
|24||Matheus Leist||AJ Foyt Enterprises||Dallara/Chevrolet||16||Contact|