IndyCar

IndyCar: Bourdais takes sensational St Petersburg victory, heartbreak for Wickens

Sebastien Bourdais took an incredible victory in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg as a penultimate lap restart saw Alexander Rossi and longtime leader Wickens collide, spinning Wickens out and dropping Rossi to third

A carnage filled start to the race saw Wickens hold onto his pole position advantage as fellow front row man Will Power spun right around and to the back of the field and needing a new rear wing in the process. Bourdais himself was in early on thanks to a cut tyre. Meanwhile Rossi had made great progress at the start and vaulted from 12th and into the top six, whilst Wickens continued to lead an all rookie top three followed by Jordan King and Mathieus Leist. King had a brief spell in the lead after passing Wickens at the races first restart, but ran wide afterwards at the next one and Wickens retook the lead.

Bourdais only managed to qualify in P14. Credit: Verizon IndyCar Series

The race quickly became a duel between Rossi and Wickens, the Andretti driver moving up to the runner up spot and showing electric pace to rapidly close in on Wickens, who had built up a solid gap to King and Leist behind him. The pair were on a conventional three stop strategy whilst Bourdais continued with his different one, running very long in the first stint and pitting under caution just before 45 laps were completed. Bourdais had clung onto the lead following various cautions, including one for an incident between Scott Dixon and Takuma Sato which saw the Ganassi driver spear into the back of Sato after passing James Hinchcliffe and getting his braking completely wrong going into turn one. They weren’t the only drivers to suffer during the race. Josef Newgarden’s title defence got off to an awful start, the 2017 champion suffering a puncture following a dismal qualifying session and was only able to recover to tenth place.

Meanwhile, Bourdais eventually cycled back to third following the final pitstops, and having done one stop less than Wickens and Rossi. Those two were now engaged in a thrilling duel that would go right to the wire, although it looked like it was over after Rossi locked up and ran wide at turn nine, just avoiding the wall but allowing Wickens to escape. But a caution for Rene Binder set up a five lap sprint to the finish. Wickens was under pressure but held off Rossi before another caution for Max Chilton, in Carlins first IndyCar start, that saw a one lap caution period and a rapid refire of Chiltons car that enable the race to be restarted with two to go.

Rossi escapes the mess at turn 1 as Wickens spins out. Credit: Verizon IndyCar Series

Wickens made a poor restart and Rossi used push-to-pass to get into the slipstream and duck out from behind Wickens, and he dived down the inside into turn one. The move was very much on until Rossi lost the rear, possibly on the white paint on the runway that makes up the start/finish straight, and he bumped into Wickens at turn one. Wickens spun round and clouted the wall, tragically ending a dominant display as Rossi lost his chance to take the lead and ended up third. Bourdais, who had been waiting behind and fended off Graham Rahal at the final restart, waltzed past the pair and into the lead with Rahal following suit. Rahal himself had come from very far down the field to join Bourdais on the podium Rossi clung on to third and despite a post race investigation, kept his podium spot. James Hinchcliffe and Ryan Hunter-Reay rounded out the top five as Dixon recovered from his clash with Sato to finish in sixth.

Feature Image Credit: Verizon IndyCar Series

Credit: Verizon IndyCar Series

Championship Standings

1: Sebastien Bourdais 51
2: Graham Rahal 40
3: Alexander Rossi 36
4: James Hinchcliffe 32
5: Ryan Hunter-Reay 31
6: Scott Dixon 28
7: Josef Newgarden 26
8: Ed Jones 24
9: Marco Andretti 22
10: Will Power 20
11: Tony Kanaan 19
12: Takuma Sato 18
13: Simon Pagenaud 17
14: Gabby Chaves 16
15: Robert Wickens 16
16: Spencer Pigot 15
17: Zach Veach 14
18: Zachary Claman 13
19: Max Chilton 11
20: Jordan King 10
20: Charlie Kimball 10
22: Rene Binder 8
23: Jack Harvey 7
24: Matheus Leist 6

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