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Power survives Sao Paulo water torture

There was plenty going on behind as well, with Briscoe and Franchitti clashing which allowed Marco Andretti an opportunity to slip past them both and take third, while Briscoe fell to fifth behind Dario. Further back, Graham Rahal had some light contact and spun, gathering himself up but falling to the back of the lead lap; and Danica Patrick had also spun, bringing out out the fifth caution of the combined race. Under the safety car conditions, Raphael Matos managed to suffer contact that broke his front wing, and he went into the pits - before they were officially open, incurring a stop-and-go penalty for his offence.

The race went back to green on lap 29, with Sato in control of the restart and duly taking charge of the preferred inside line drivers-left into the first chicane. Power found his hands full keeping Marco Andretti at bay and had no opportunity to take the fight to Sato, and there was plenty of activity going on behind Franchitti as Briscoe lost two positions into the first chicane to EJ Viso and Oriol Servia who were having a ferocious private battle; a batch of Brazilian drivers - Rafael Matos, Ana Beatriz and Tony Kanaan - all needed to take to the run off area; and Justin Wilson spun in turn 10. While he kept the car fired up and was able to rejoin the field, it proved a costly error for Wilson as he dropped from seventh to 17th.

Dario Franchitti was about to share the pain. At the start of lap 33, he slid through turn 1, into a hefty impact with the tyre wall and right out of fourth place. He headed for the pits for a checkover and repairs, putting him at the back of the lead lap in 15th place and looking seriously compromised. Elsewhere other cars including Alex Tagliani and Danica Patrick were also finding conditions through turns 6 through 10 to be very treacherous: Tagliani ended up spinning and stalling in the middle of turn 10, and that was enough to provoke the sixth caution of the race.

The latest clutch of incidents had left Sato, Power, Andretti, Servia, Viso and Briscoe forming the top six, and they had a big decision to make under this latest caution: to pit for fuel, or try and stretch it? Sato, Andretti and Viso gambled on more cautions to come and stayed out, while Power led those coming in for fuel and tyres.

When all that shook out, the top three at the restart were Takuma, Marco and EJ, while Sebastian Saavedra, James Jakes, Graham Rahal and Dario Franchitti - who had taken fuel in his solo pit stop just before the caution and had no need to come in again - were all in front of Will Power in eighth who led those who had come through pit lane. It gave Franchitti a strong chance of a win since he could now make it to the end of the race without another stop. It was almost as good for Graham Rahal who like Dario had recently pitted for running repairs, and also James Jakes who was pursuing a completely off-kilter pit stop strategy and would also be able to stretch it to the end.

The restart saw Scott Dixon spin for a second time through the first chicane, while EJ Viso put Marco Andretti under heavy pressure for second place throughout the first green flag lap. He finally pulled off the pass into turn 11 - showing that his scary high-speed crash there on Saturday because of a brake issue had not affected his nerves in the slightest - and then out-dragged Marco through the stadium section to seal the deal into turn 1, giving KV Racing Technology-Lotus an amazing one-two.

Saavedra and Jakes were already falling off the top three, and then Jakes went and threw away his opportunity with a spin, dropping him down ten spots. Franchitti was also finding the race tough going now after his earlier run into the tyre barriers, and was forced to cede positions to Will Power and Ryan Briscoe, leaving him down in eighth.

Track and weather conditions were by now clearing up nicely, allowing for some close on-track battles between unexpected names and ever-improving lap times throughout the field. Surprisingly the fastest car of all on track was Simona de Silvestro, who despite running nine laps off the lead was the only car to put in a time below the 1:40 mark during the whole race. Unfortunately for the leaders de Silvestro was also running on the same part of the track as they were, and she was battling with them every step of the way - which lapped traffic simply isn't meant to do. She overtook Marco Andretti through turn 11 on lap 43 and would go on to pass the leader, Takuma Sato, four laps later, confirming her pace but not winning her any friends and surely setting her up with a visit to the officials' trailer for some words about race etiquette.

Meanwhile, the KV Racing Technology-Lotus dream was disintegrating. Viso was being a little over-wrought in his defence of second place from assaults by Marco Andretti, and EJ was warned at least seven times about some very blatant blocking moves by race control until finally their patience was exhausted and he was handed a drive-thru penalty on lap 43 that dumped him down to ninth place.

And five laps later, Takuma Sato's time in the lead was over: the fuel gamble hadn't worked, and he needed to pit to make it to the end of the race. That put him down to seventh place by the time he was topped up and sent back out. Sato had done all he could and he'd outlasted Saavedra (who had come in for fuel on lap 47) and Andretti (who had come in on lap 46, after also having lost eletronic data read-outs on his car). Marco tried one last roll of the dice with a switch to soft slick tyres despite the presence of a lot of water offline, and while he managed to avoid any crashes for the remaining laps, it didn't really deliver any significant performance advantage either.

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]
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]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Chris Jones]
Will Power - Team Penske   [pic credit: IndyCar Media/Richard Dowdy)

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