MANN SECURES FIFTH IN FIRESTONE INDY LIGHTS CHAMPIONSHIP
Pippa Mann has scored her fourth consecutive top five finish, in the season finale of the 2010 Firestone Indy Lights championship - at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The result sees the young Brit secure a credible fifth place in the driver's championship, cementing an impressive comeback for Mann in what has been a tough year.
The Sam Schmidt Motorsports driver started The Fuzzy's Ultra Premium Vodka 100 from pole. As the green flag dropped, Brandon Wagner (Davey Hamilton Racing) made a superb start from the second row, and took the lead on lap one. Mann dropped back behind team mate Wade Cunningham, but continued to push hard as she battled for third place with the New Zealander.
On lap eight, Team Moore's James Hinchcliffe got around both Mann and Cunningham, again leaving Mann to fight for third position with her team mate. The pair were side-by-side through turns one and two, and Mann managed to push around the outside to inch ahead of Cunningham. Just as she took back the fourth place, Dan Clarke hit the wall while avoiding a spinning Gustavo Yacaman, and brought out the only caution period of the race.
The field went back to green-flag racing on lap 24, with Cunningham getting the jump on Mann. AFS Racing's Martin Plowman closed up to the #11 Sam Schmidt Motorsports machine, and managed to take fourth position. However, Mann did not give up and the two Brits ran side-by-side, lap after lap Mann on the inside, and Plowman running the high line. On lap 45, Mann finally managed to get clear of the #27 car, and pulled away from Plowman.
In the closing laps, Mann lost fourth position when lapping a backmarker, but the fifth place finish was enough to see her climb from seventh to fifth in the points' standings.
Speaking about the race, Mann said: "We had a little too much aero which cost us straight line speed, and that compromised our performance this afternoon. But today was about the bigger picture, and our main goal was to do enough to get fifth in the championship and we've achieved that. In light of some of the issues we've had, it's a fairly amazing comeback story, and definitely a story I'm happy to end 2010 with."
Mann added: "It was tough out there today and it wasn't an easy race to win. Brandon (Wagner) did a fantastic job and thoroughly deserved the victory, so many congratulations to him and the team."
-source: pippa mann PR