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Conway battles his way back at Motegi

Mike Conway battled his way back from adversity at Motegi, which saw Andretti Autosport struggle in qualifying but have a good race - at least until they encountered Sebastien Bourdais.
Andretti Autosport's British driver Mike Conway battled his way back from a disappointing qualifying and a mid-race clash with Sebastien Bourdais to claim a top ten finish in the final Indy Japan race at Motegi on Sunday.

It was the series' first (and sadly last) race at Motegi on the road course configuration, and the almost-European-style nature of the road circuit appealed to Conway and suited his style. "The circuit is cool and I had a lot of fun," he said after his first laps on Friday.

After a promising series of runs in practice on Saturday that saw him in the top ten in both hour-long sessions, Conway was then very frustrated when he was unable to duplicate that form in qualifying and failed to make it through his group stage in round 1 later in the afternoon.

"We were running quite well in the first practice session but then struggled to pull together a strong lap on Saturday for qualifying," he said. "I'm obviously disappointed that the @FollowAndretti car didn't make it through further in qualifying. Our first lap was okay but then I went off and after that we just didn't put a lap together.

"It's too bad because we ran well all day," he added, after ending up with a less-than-hoped-for grid position of 20th.

The team as a whole didn't have a great qualifying performance, with Ryan Hunter-Reay only a little way ahead in 17th and Danica Patrick starting from 23rd, but at least Marco Andretti seemed to have a feel for Motegi's unfamiliar road layout and managed to make it into round 2, qualifying in a respectable tenth place.

That gave the team - and Conway in particular - a challenge to rise to, and they dealt with the Saturday disappointment by coming on strong in Sunday's race. Mindful of the old mantra that 'you can't win a race on the first lap, but you can sure lose it', Conway started off playing it cautiously but still picked up two positions and was up to 18th by the time the first caution came out for Joao Paulo de Oliveira's retirement on lap 19.

The mêlée at the restart which saw Dario Franchitti hit Ryan Briscoe and also catch out Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball near the front of the field proved to be an opportunity for Conway, who leaped up to 11th place as a result of steering clear of the trouble.

Once the race got back underway, Conway sensed that this was the moment to press home his advantage and started to make his way through the field, climbing to fifth place by lap 40.

"We managed to work our way steadily up through the field and were looking good for a strong points finish in fifth place or better," said Conway describing his race later on. Unfortunately that proved to be a high-water mark for the #27.




Related Pictures

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Mike Conway, Andretti Autosport, St. Petersburg, 2011
Mike Conway in pit lane before claiming fourth place on the grid for Sunday`s race on the streets of Toronto. July 2011. [Picture credit: Jim Haines for IndyCar Media]
Mike Conway cutting the apex on the natural terrain road course track at Twin Ring Motegi. [Photo Credit: IndyCar Media]
Bryan Herta Autosport 2015 Indy 500 entry sponsored by Green1. (Picture Credit: Bryan Herta Autosport)
Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Briscoe go wheel-to-wheel during the Open Test at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
The cars of Ryan Briscoe and Sebastien Bourdais go off course during the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The cars of Ryan Briscoe and Sebastien Bourdais go off course during the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The cars of Ryan Briscoe and Sebastien Bourdais go off course during the start of the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The field scatters as the drivers avoid the cars of Sebastien Bourdais and Ryan Briscoe at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud on the podium after the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay on pit lane prior to the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway on pit lane prior to the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay navigates the Turn 9 Esses during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Sebastien Bourdais exits pit lane during practice for the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at the Milwaukee Mile (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Briscoe enters Turn 3 during practice for the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at the Milwaukee Mile (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Ryan Hunter-Reay enters Turn 3 during practice for the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at the Milwaukee Mile (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Scott Dixon (right), driver of the #9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, August 3, 2014 during the IndyCar Series race at Mid Ohio Raceway in Lexington, Ohio. Sebastien Bourdais (left), driver of the #11 Hydroxycut KVC Racing Technology Chevrolet IndyCar V6, finished second. It`s Dixon`s first victory of the season. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Sebastien Bourdais celebrates second place in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sport Car Course on Sunday August 3 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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