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Power survives Sao Paulo water torture

The torrential downpour soon abated, but the rain was still coming down sufficiently to make it difficult for the organisers to deal with the standing water all over the circuit. After some two hours under modified red flag conditions (IndyCar officials relented on the letter of the law and allowed teams to work on damaged cars, so that there would be enough competitors in one piece to take the green flag again) it was close on 4pm local time and there were concerns about the fading light. It was time to try, or call it a day.

The drivers were recalled to their cockpits and sent out behind the safety car in the hope that the wet tyres would suck up enough moisture from the track to establish a dry-ish line. After five laps of this, it was clear that it just wasn't working - the rain was still coming down hard enough to prevent any improvement. Unfortunately for Mike Conway, however, the five laps under yellow proved costly as his #27 Andretti Autosports stuttered to an eventual halt with electrical problems, meaning that he would drop from third place to the back of the lead lap - 20th - for the next restart.

But that restart wasn't going to happen anytime soon. The cars were recalled, and after half an hour of confusion about what was happening next, the race was officially abandoned for the day and postponed until 9am local time the following Monday morning.

And at 9am, it looked lovely: dry track, sunshine, and no rain on the weather radars. It looked as though this was actually going to work, and everyone was happily set on their way on slick tyres. After a couple of warm-up laps, the field headed down into turn 11 ready to line up for the double-file restart for the remaining one hour and 19 minutes of the now time-capped race. At which point ... It started to rain, right through the Victory hairpin and on the concrete section through the Sambadrome.

The field tip-toed through the first two chicanes and headed straight to the pit lane entrance (unusually, here situated not on the start/finish straight but parallel to the Avenue Olavo Fontoura, meaning that cars in pit lane cut out turn 5 before rejoining into turn 6). By the time they came back out on wet tyres, the rain had come down hard enough for them to leave prominent "rooster's tales" down the mile-long Reta dos Bandeirantes backstraight and there was no question that we were right back into a wet race after all.

Power's lead had survived the pit lane dash and he was now followed by Briscoe, Takuma Sato, Rahal, Franchitti, Alex Tagliani, Marco Andretti and EJ Viso. Rahal was an early loser on this latest set of tyres and lost spots to Franchitti, Tagliani and Andretti, and up front Takuma Sato had the measure of Briscoe, passing him at turn 6 on lap 18 and then easily pulling away in pursuit of the race leader Will Power.

With the rain really starting to come down at this point, puddles formed rapidly and there was the very real possibility that the race would end prematurely, so everyone started getting very racey just in case there was another red flag: now Tagliani was struggling and he handed back the place he had just taken from Rahal and also had to yield to Andretti and EJ Viso. Everyone was struggling to keep out of trouble, and even Will Power had a near-miss when he came close to hitting the wall on lap 20.

Inevitably, something had to break in the end, and it was Sebastien Bourdais who spun into the tyre wall at turn 10 on lap 21 who brought out the next full course caution. Ryan Hunter-Reay had also had a small spin elsewhere on the track and damanaged his rear wing - the second one he had written off this weekend, which meant that when he got back to the pits he was fitted with a mis-matching new wing belonging to Mike Conway's set of spares instead of one of his own.

As the restart approached on lap 25, the rain was easing and in some parts of the course there was even a definite dry line emerging, while others remained as lethal as ever. Power led Sato, Briscoe, Franchitti, Andretti, Rahal, Viso and Dixon to the green flag, but he was slightly too cautious and left himself open for anyone with the courage to try a suicidal (in the conditions) lunge down the left hand of the double file-restart. But who would dare go for it?

Formula 1 fans will know that when it comes to much moments, Takuma Sato is your man. He is indeed that fearless-slash-pathologically insane, and he duly went for it. And amazingly, it worked without taking either him or Power off - he passed the Penske car and took the lead, leaving a startled Power staring at the back wing of another car for the first time in the race.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Cars trying to follow the safety car in monsoon conditions at the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 before the red flag. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Helio Castroneves, Simona de Silvestro and Danica Patrick collide at the start of the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 [Picture credit: LAT Photo USA for IndyCar Media]
Problems hit Graham Rahal, James Hinchcliffe and Justin Wilson at the first restart at the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300. [Picture credit: Daniel Incandela for IndyCar Media]
Will Power leads Ryan Briscoe and Takuma Sato shortly after the first pit stops on Monday morning for wet tyres. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Will Power celebrates a hard-won victory in Sao Paulo. [Picture credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media]
Takuma Sato 2017 Indy 500
Indy 500, IndyCar, Takuma Sato
Ryan Hunter-Reay Indy 500 practice 2017
Will Power Indy 500 practice
Will Power - Team Penske
Graham Rahal celebrates victory in the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway   (image credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Owens)
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: Indycar media/Chris Owens]
Ed Jones - Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Will Power - Penske  [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]

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