The Verizon IndyCar Series fought a valiant battle against the forces of nature on Saturday afternoon, but in the end the rain won the day and forced the cancellation of the first race of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader.
The series will now try and run two complete reconfigured races on Sunday instead, one in the morning at around 10.30am local time (3.30pm BST) and one in the late afternoon at 4.15pm (9.15pm BST). The first race will use a rolling start with the grid set by Saturday morning's qualifying session, while the second will utilise a standing start and set the order according to driver championship points. Both races will be 75 laps in duration rather than the originally planned 85 laps.
The news came after a frustrating day for officials, drivers, team members and of course race fans in Toronto. Race control initially tried to get the race underway on schedule, sending the cars out to circulate behind the safety car in the hope that it would create a dry line around the 1.7-mile, 11-turn street circuit. However, drivers soon reported that visibility in certain parts of the track was down to zero, and with no sign of a break in the persistent rain in sight on the weather radar the pre-race track activity was red flagged and the cars ordered back to pit road.
"They can race in the rain, but it's once they get up to speed and the spray. You can't see anything and it would be mayhem," explained team owner Michael Andretti
Race control gave it another go just under an hour later, with the provisos that the planned standing start would be replaced by a rolling start behind the safety car and the event shortened to a 65-lap (or 90-minute) race. However, even this proved impossible to achieve: on the formation lap, Ryan Briscoe aquaplaned off into the tyres in turn 5, and moments later the pace car itself (driven by none other than Arie Luyendyk) spun off in turn 3.
The final straw was Will Power losing the back end of his Penske and spinning into the barrier on the frontstretch, even before the green flag had been shown to the drivers. Power's car suffered left front and left rear suspension damage and was rolled back to pit road, where he was soon joined by the other 22 cars as the race was once again red flagged without having turned a single official lap.
The cars remained there for another hour - long enough for the Penske team to repair Power's car and also address an electrical issue that had arisen on Juan Pablo Montoya's car in the meantime. They would have to start from the rear alongside Briscoe, but at least they were back in the race.
Except there was no race. Although the rain started to ease off, the radar was showing more inclement weather on the way. With the time already ticking past 6pm and the dwindling daylight starting to become an issue, and with drivers out of the car shivering in sodden overalls and scrounging food wherever they could find it, it was apparent that the race simply wasn't going to happen especially once the TV broadcasters started to cut away to other programming.
The official word was given at 6.15pm (11.15pm BST) with confirmation that the planned qualifying session for the USF2000 support race had also been cancelled for the day.
"We went as late as we could before we called it to do our best to get the race in," explained IndyCar's President of Operations and Competition Derrick Walker. "It would have been crazy to start the race today. I don't think we did the wrong thing.
"I'm here to tell you we do race in the rain, but we also think of our drivers' safety. You can't throw people into those conditions," he added.
"Obviously, we all wanted to get the race in today, but this was the correct call," added Castroneves after activity was suspended for the day. "We really tried to start the race but it was clear that we were going to wreck a lot of cars."
The weather could still prove an issue on Sunday, with a 50 percent chance of precipitation forecast for the area in the afternoon.