IndyCar » 18 July 2010
Title rivals win eventful Toronto street fight
Road courses in IRL are often criticised for being dull, processional affairs with too little overtaking, not much incident, and altogether lacking excitement and incident. Well way what you like about the other road courses - the streets of Toronto delivered handsomely in all four categories.
Justin Wilson led the field to green on the streets to Toronto, virtually alone among the runners in opting to start the race on the harder and nominally slower hard (prime) tyres. It didn't seem to cause him any problems and he was able to easily keep the rest of the field behind him, as the race got away to a clean start through turn 1.
Further around the first lap, however, Dan Wheldon misjudged his braking and ploughed into the back of EJ Viso, shattering Wheldon's front wing in the process and forcing him to make a costly pit stop for repairs. Milka Duno was another early visitor to the pits, this time as a result of a black flag for not managing to run within the 107 per cent of the lead time and becoming an impediment to the other cars rapidly coming up to lap her.
Will Power slipped back in the early stint, meaning that Helio Castroneves moved into second ahead of Dario Franchitti (who had been given a fresh engine overnight), Ryan Hunter-Reay and Scott Dixon. Power had just claimed the position back from Dixon on lap 17 when the first full course caution came out, as a result of Mario Moraes pinching his team mate Takuma Sato into the wall, the clash of wheels breaking Sato's front right suspension and likely leading to a heated team debrief to come after the race.
With the exceptions of Paul Tracy and Vitor Meira, everyone came in for an early pit stop. It proved costly for Justin Wilson, who emerged behind Castroneves, Franchitti and Power in effective third place, Tracy and Meira notwithstanding; at least Wilson could now go for the sticky red-wall tyres for the remainder of the race, even as others had to run a stint on the primes.
The restart when it came didn't last long: Helio Castroneves made a move on Vitor Meira on the run into turn 3, but left his move a fraction of a second too late and clipped the rear left wheel of the Foyt car. The impact knocked Helio into the air and then into the wall, and he skidded his way down the wall into the run off area to arrive at some speed into the tyre barrier. According to Helio in the post-race interview, he was on push-to-pass and didn't expect Meira to brake as early as he did into the corner.
The next restart barely lasted any longer: Alex Lloyd ended up in the tyre barrier in turn 1 after something appeared to break on the car. Before the caution, Dario Franchitti and Will Power had managed to dispatch Vitor Meira and step up to second and third respectively.
Local hero Paul Tracy yet again led the field to green, and there was just time for Dario Franchitti to get past him before the yellow was out yet again - this time for Mario Romancini who spun into the tyres and stalled after contact with the hapless Mario Moraes in turn 3 on lap 32. Moraes received a drive-thru penalty for causing the accident.
Deprived of the glory of leading his home race, Tracy (along with Meira) finally opted to pit for fuel and dropped to the back of the lead lap in the process, so now Franchitti led Power, Wilson, Hunter-Reay and the increasingly improving Tony Kanaan in fifth place ahead of a strangely anonymous Scott Dixon.
After the string of non-stop yellows, it was good to get back to a proper green flag stint on lap 35. Scott Dixon immediately made the most of the opportunity by overtaking Tony Kanaan for fifth, after Kanaan was warned for driving defensively offline by the stewards.
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