1 May 2011
Sao Paulo downpour forces red flag, day's delay
Racing in the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 was postponed to Monday after a torrential downpour hit the scheduled start of the race leading to a spate of accidents.
Attempts to run the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 have been abandoned for Sunday, and the race has been postponed until Monday.
The streets were already wet on Sunday in Sao Paulo from a pre-race torrential shower when the IndyCars lined up for the double file start, and it all went swiftly downhill from there.
Helio Castroneves was forced wide by Dario Franchitti through the first chicane, and the Brazilian ended up going into the barriers at which point he was an immediate blockage for those behind him: Simona de Silvestro had no where to go but straight into him, and then Danica Patrick ploughed into de Silvestro in turn and raised the #78 clear off the track. Tony Kanaan was also involved and sustained suspension damage and a bruised wrist when Patrick's car ricocheted back into his car, while Ryan Hunter-Reay had skated through the chicane and into a tyre wall in a separate incident.
The restart was little better, with Scott Dixon spinning as he exited the first turn and a host of other cars including Sebastien Bourdais, James Hinchcliffe and Justin Wilson spun further back. Within minutes the rain was coming down again at monsoon levels, and it was impossible to keep track of who was spinning off, where and what damage was being wrought to the cars bouncing into the barriers. With visibility down to zero the organisers had no choice but to throw a red flag on lap 9 of 75 and recall the cars to the pit lane before the entire field was written off.
At the time the race was suspended, Will Power was in the lead ahead of Ryan Briscoe, Mike Conway, Takuma Sato, Graham Rahal, Dario Franchitti, Marco Andretti and Charlie Kimball.
Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Vitor Meira had all sustained serious suspension damage, the latter two after spinning off backwards into the barriers; and Helio Castroneves, Simona de Silvestro and Danica Patrick were officially listed as having retired before the red flag. However, the teams all continued to repair the affected cars during the stoppage and eventually everyone was ready by the time the drivers were told to prepare for a restart.
The red flag had lasted well over two hours, during which time the rain eased and officials tried to sweep the flood water off the track. The cars were put back out on track shortly after 4pm local time (8pm BST) but this quickly established that the track was still too waterlogged to realistically attempt a restart. Unfortunately it was also long enough for Mike Conway to suffer electrical problems and stop on track, meaning he will drop from third to 20th when the race does eventually get under way.
The organisers finally took the decision to abandon the race for the day and announced that an attempt to resume the race will be made on Monday at 9am local time, 1pm BST.
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