Power Prevails, Sato Stars in Sao Paulo
Takuma Sato gambled – and almost pulled off his first IZOD IndyCar Series victory – while Will Power took a conservative route on the wet and treacherous streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil to win Monday’s rain-delayed Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300. With the victory, the Team Penske driver moved to the top of the championship points standings heading into the Indianapolis 500.
Continuing a five-year tradition of equality and reliability, all 26 Honda-powered drivers completed the race weekend without a single failure of the Honda Indy V-8 engine. The teams logged a total of 8,140 trouble-free miles during three days on the streets of Sao Paulo.
Today’s rain-shortened contest was a continuation of Sunday’s scheduled 75-lap race, which was halted due to heavy rain after just 14 laps. The race re-started Monday at 9 a.m. local time [8 a.m. EDT] on a dry track, but with a light rain beginning to fall as the 26-car field took the green flag.
Showers would continue to fall, on and off, throughout today’s run, but never at the same intensity experienced at the Parque Anhembi circuit on Sunday. Due to the weather, the race became a two-hour timed event, with just over 45 minutes having been run on Sunday.
The field restarted in its running order from Sunday’s stoppage, with Power in the lead, followed by teammate Ryan Briscoe in second and Sato – one of several drivers whose car was changed to a “full wet setup” overnight, third. Sato moved past Briscoe for second on Lap 18 and, following a full-course caution caused by Sebastien Bourdais’ crash, moved into the lead on the Lap 25 restart.
Sato would continue to lead the next 23 laps – the first of his IndyCar career – and gambled again on Lap 35, staying on track with Marco Andretti and E.J. Viso while most of the rest of the field pitted. The rain at this point had stopped, and Sato’s KV Racing Technology team was anticipating a need for the full field to change to dry-weather “slick” tires before the checkers. Teammate Viso was on a similar strategy, as was Marco Andretti, who pitted out of second place on Lap 46 for slicks.
But the rain returned with less than 10 minutes remaining and Sato, needing a splash of fuel to complete the race, was forced to pit on Lap 49. He would go on to finish eighth. Sato’s stop handed the lead back to Power, who continued to his second victory in four races this season. Recovering from an early spin and subsequent out-of-sequence pit stop of his own, Graham Rahal came home second, his best result of 2011, with Briscoe rounding out the top three.
We’re all really relaxed and I’m looking forward to Indianapolis and the start of the oval tracks.
After opening the season with four road and street circuit races over the past six weeks, the IZOD IndyCar Series returns home to the USA for the Centennial Indianapolis 500. Action at “The Brickyard opens with Rookie Orientation on May 12, followed by Opening Day practice for all competitors on May 14.
Will Power (#12 Team Penske Honda) started 1st, finished 1st, his second win of 2011 and 10th career victory: “That was an awesome race, there were so many different track conditions today, but you could see, and that was much better than yesterday. Two wins and [a record-tying] four poles is a great way to start the season. The team is really hooked up right now. We’re all really relaxed and I’m looking forward to Indianapolis and the start of the oval tracks.”
Graham Rahal (#38 Chip Ganassi Racing Honda) started 5th, finished 2nd: “I had to make a stop early after Will [Power] clipped me and I spun. But that worked out for us in the end. We’ve had some bad luck at the start of this season. We really needed a good result today and that’s exactly what we got.”
Roger Griffiths (Technical Director, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race: "It was an exciting race, just very unfortunate for the fans that weather conditions didn’t allow us to complete the race yesterday. The weather was, at times, extremely adverse, with Sunday’s downpour and more rain today, but our race team and the Honda Indy V-8 engines were all up to the task. Now we go from road courses to our first oval and the biggest event of the year: Indianapolis. We’re looking forward to the 100th running of this great race and the strongest ‘500’ field we’ve seen in years.”
-source: honda racing