IndyCar » 27 August 2012
Briscoe pips Power after Bourdais crashes out
Ryan Briscoe claimed his first win in the IZOD IndyCar Series in over two years, thanks to a late caution for a violent accident when Sebastien Bourdais crashed out of third place.
The last time that Ryan Briscoe was in victory lane was at Texas in 2010. He's finished second, third and fourth at Sonoma in the past, but always been the bridesmaid and never the bride - until today, when a late caution gave him the opportunity to leapfrog the dominant car of his team mate Will Power in pit road.
"It's big!" said Briscoe when asked what this victory meant for him. "I wasn't sure if I was ever going to win again. It has been too long. Especially here in Sonoma, I've always done so well at this track and I got my first ever pole position here and we've been top-five every year pretty much for the last five years so it's great to finally get the win."
There was arguably more action and drama in the opening five laps of this year's GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma than in the entirety of the 2011 race, although that's admittedly not setting a particularly high bar. The top five cars of Power, Briscoe, Sebastien Bourdais, Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon quickly fell into line after the double-file start, Dario Franchitti initially lost out a position to Ryan Hunter-Reay in the process, but the rest of the field stayed surprisingly two abreast for a longer time than anyone was expecting, Alex Tagliani and Simon Pagenaud in particular fiercely contending for eighth position.
Trouble came early, when Helio Castroneves tapped the back of Scott Dixon's car into the remodelled turn 7 hairpin. The contact spun the Ganassi around to that it was facing traffic and pinned into position, so that - while he kept the engine running - Dixon still had to wait for the rest of the field to get passed before he could spin the car around and get going again. Castroneves got handed a drive-thru penalty for causing the accident, which dropped him down to 21st.
Simon Pagenaud ended up in trouble in the aftermath of Dixon's accident as the cars scattered to avoid the #9, and in the process Pagenaud had his wing clipped by Tagliani. Despite littering the track with debris as the wing fell apart, Pagenaud was able to carry on until his earlier-than-intended pit stop on lap 18 and the track officials were able to clean up without resorting to a caution.
In the meantime, Franchitti had been able to re-pass Hunter-Reay for fourth place with Tagliani also benefiting by following through into fifth place, and Tony Kanaan pulled of a smooth pass on Marco Andretti for tenth place having started in 16th. However, there was bad news for Takuma Sato as an engine problem saw him pulling off at turn 8 and into retirement on lap 3.
"Unfortunately we had engine failure, so it was a very short race," he said. "It was a shame because we made some setup changes after the morning warm-up that I felt were positive changes.
But there was no question about the state of affairs at the front of the race, with Will Power having disappeared into the distance well ahead of Ryan Briscoe, who also had a significant margin ahead of Sebastien Bourdais in third place.
With the race extended by ten laps this year to make fuel strategies more difficult to optimise, lap 14 was the earliest time that anyone could come in to pit lane and make it home on just two more stops. Scott Dixon rolled the dice by being first in for fuel in his attempt to find some way back from his first lap disaster; Castroneves sought a similar route back to the front the next time around. After that there was a growing trickle of visitors to pit road, including James Hinchcliffe who added a side order of a new front wing after contact had left him with damage in the opening laps, as did Pagenaud a couple of laps later to take care of his own battle scars.
Tagged as: Rubens Barrichello , Helio Castroneves , James Hinchcliffe , Sonoma , Ryan Hunter-Reay , Dario Franchitti , Ryan Briscoe , Scott Dixon , Will Power , Alex Tagliani , Sébastien Bourdais , Josef Newgarden
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