After what was an eventful, yet positive Saturday, Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing driver Simona De Silvestro returned Sunday looking to complete what was going to be a busy day's worth of work, which included a fourth practice session, qualifying...
After what was an eventful, yet positive Saturday, Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing driver Simona De Silvestro returned Sunday looking to complete what was going to be a busy day's worth of work, which included a fourth practice session, qualifying and finally the Sao Paulo Indy 300 race. Track crews worked overnight to repair the slippery front stretch and hopes were high that the condition of the track would be substantially better.
After finishing the last practice session earlier in the morning in 5th, De Silvestro prepared herself for qualifying. With poise and confidence she climbed into her #78 Stargate Resistance car and began her first qualifying effort as part of the IZOD IndyCar Series. She was among the Round #1 session participants and focused all of her efforts on putting in some clean fast laps. Her times stayed between the 4th and 5th spots initially but she soon started hammering her lap times and quickly skyrocketed to 2nd place on the timesheets. The elated De Silvestro, who is in contention for Rookie of the Year, would finish in 2nd, which allowed her to continue on to Round #3 qualifying.
De Silvestro entered the Round # 3 timesheets in the 6th position. As the other drivers began to pick up their game, De Silvestro picked up hers as well. With the front stretch more stable than it was yesterday De Silvestro took advantage and used as much track as she could and wrangled the 1,565 pound IndyCar around the course. She hovered between the 9th and 12th spots throughout the session, but with a few minutes left she made slight contact with the wall. The damage to the #78 Stargate Resistance car was minor and the Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing crew soon went to work on getting the car ready for the race. De Silvestro, while disappointed with the incident, was overall pleased with her 11th place qualifying effort.
As the cars roared down the front stretch at the start of the race the dust made visibility nearly impossible, which resulted in a spectacular 5-car accident. De Silvestro managed to narrowly escape the wreckage and continued on. During the lengthy caution she would end up having to pit in order to address a flat right rear tire. She reentered the race track in 13th and by lap #18 the young rookie had been relegated down to the 17th position, as she had a full load of fuel to contend with. Her fortune would change when the yellow flag came out allowing all drivers to take their pit stops, with the exception of De Silvestro, who stayed out. The move allowed her to take the lead. This was the first lead of her career and a great opportunity for her to showcase her talent. Not since Graham Rahal at St. Petersburg in 2008 has a rookie led a lap in an IZOD IndyCar Series race that was their debut race. De Silvestro soon found herself fighting with Ryan Hunter-Reay and Dario Franchitti for the lead. The exciting battle came to an end when Mother Nature quickly turned and the skies over Sao Paulo opened up forcing all drivers back to their pits to put on their rain tires, however, De Silvestro stayed out. Unfortunately the pits would close, which resulted in her being forced to stay out on the racetrack for six laps during the downpour. She managed to do a brilliant job keeping control of the car under the treacherous wet conditions and eventually was able to pit and change her tires. After a 33 minute red flag period De Silvestro came back out but was once again bitten by bad luck. She began to experience rear suspension problems causing her to take a trip back to the pits to allow for repairs. Despite losing 3 laps, the undeterred De Silvestro flew back onto the course and completed the remaining laps. She would go on to finish the race in 16th place.
The team will now prepare for the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 28th to be held in the streets of St. Petersburg, FL.
Simona De Silvestro, Driver No. 78 - "Despite the rear braking problems and the different things that happened during the race, it was a real good experience. I think we can be pretty competitive during the year and now we just have to continue to work real hard and I'm sure we'll go in the right direction. A big thank you to my Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing crew for working so hard and to everyone who had a part in getting me to this point. I am very grateful to them all."
Keith Wiggins, HVM Racing Team Principal - "We started off pretty good obviously and we got into a pretty good position and looked very strong, but it went a bit against us when the rain came and the pits closed. It went downhill from there. It's a bit of a disappointing finish considering she was doing such a fantastic job."
Imran Safiulla, Team Stargate Worlds Team Principal - "We've seen the entire spectrum of what a first race weekend could have offered us. The whole team has done a fantastic job getting us here and Simona drove absolutely brilliantly. We had some good luck go our way and some that did not, including getting caught in the rain while the pits were closed and a mechanical issue that affected us towards the end, but all things being considered, I am proud of what we did here this weekend and I'm looking forward to what we can do at St. Petersburg."
Shane Seneviratne, Team Stargate Worlds Team Principal - "Simona did an excellent job. It almost seems likes she's done this before even though it was her first race and despite all of the extreme conditions that were thrown at her. She did an extremely good job staying out on the course during the rain while the pits were closed. The Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing team did an excellent job. Michael Cannon and Simona worked so well together and leading this race, their very first together, is something everyone should be proud of."
-source: tsw/hvm racing