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IndyCar Long Beach 2013: Sato makes history with maiden win

The gap became academic on lap 51 when Ryan Hunter-Reay pushed too hard while trying to get past Ana Beatriz and ended up into the tyres at turn 8. "I just started getting desperate," admitted the reigning series champion. "We couldn't go anywhere. We missed some of the grip today that we had in prior days. Some of the corners that were my strongest were my weakest today.

"I was definitely handcuffed, so we just started trying things," he continued. "We were in the back anyway, I had to move forward again and I just got in too hot, no grip on the inside there. Just trying things, trying anything to make a bad day go a little better, but it just went from bad to worse."

It was at least good timing as far as the rest of the field was concerned, as it was possible for everyone to pit under the ensuing caution and make it to the end albeit with some strict fuel conservation. That made pit lane a busy place - too busy as it turned out, with Tristan Vautier exiting his pit box only to find Will Power angling in to his own stall immediately ahead. The two made contact, costing Vautier a second drive-thru penalty for causing avoidable contact, but more seriously giving Power right rear suspension damage from the slow-speed collision that cost the Penske crew a lot of time to sort out.

"Unfortunately in the pits I got sent out and made contact with Will Power's car," Vautier explained. "We had some communication issues as a team, but we're all learning to work together and things happen. We win as a team and we lose as a team, and I had my mistakes as well. We had a great race going and it's too bad it ended this way, but we're going to get a good result soon because our speed is there."

"Frustrating day out there," added Power from his own perspective. "We had a car that we thought was good enough to win today [but] Sato was very strong and he really dominated."

With Hunter-Reay confirmed out and AJ Allmendinger parked on the roadside at turn 5 with a broken gearbox, it had been a costly few minutes for some of the series; biggest names. The top three were unchanged by all the incidents - Sato still led Rahal and Franchitti at the restart with Wilson now in fourth ahead of Kanaan and Servià. Kanaan was the only driver facing the final stint on the black tyres, making them harder-wearing but also less grippy in the early laps.

The green came out on lap 56 with Charlie Kimball making an astonishing play for the lead from deep in the pack, but predictably it ended up in the tyres at turn 1. Fortunately Kimball was able to reverse out and get back underway without forcing the race back under yellow, although a trip to pit lane was needed to sort out the damage to the #83.

There were pitched battles right through the field over the ensuing laps, with Simon Pagenaud's left rear damaged by Marco Andretti as the two tangled over seventh place, Sebastien Bourdais falling from 11th 18th at the back of the lead lap after needing to take to the run-off, while at the front Dario Franchitti lost another spot this time to Justin Wilson who took over third place on lap 59 making a gain of 21 places on his grid position at the start of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach after being unable to participate in qualifying while the team worked on replacing the rear wing following a practice accident.

"It was a little bit of luck, circumstances and the team did a great job on strategy," Wilson explained later. "We pitted on Lap 5 or 6. Came in and put the reds on. We had plenty of reds because we didn't qualify. We just went out there and pushed hard the entire race."

Sato's lead over Rahal ebbed and flowed during the ensuing laps but he looked solidly in control. Behind Wilson and Franchitti there was a huge 7.5s gap back to Kanaan, as it seemed that the black-wall 'prime tyres were no match for the reds in the concluding laps after all; instead, Kanaan was coming under pressure from Servià behind him in six place and on lap 78 the two tangled into turn 1 leaving Kanaan caught by the tyre wall.




Related Pictures

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Helio Castroneves, driver of the #3 Auto Club of Southern California Team Penske Chevrolet, retained the lead in the IZOD IndyCar Series point standings Sunday, April, 21, 2013 with a 10th-place finish in the Grand Prix of Long Beach Indy in Long Beach, California. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt for Chevrolet)
JR Hildebrand, driver of the #4 National Guard Panther Racing Chevrolet, finished fifth Sunday, April, 21, 2013 in the Grand Prix of Long Beach Indy in Long Beach, California. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt for Chevrolet)
Oriol Servia, driver of the #22 Charter Panther Dreyer & Reinbold Racing Chevrolet, finished sixth Sunday, April, 21, 2013 in the Grand Prix of Long Beach Indy in Long Beach, California. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt for Chevrolet)
Takuma Sato wins the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 21 2013. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Larry Foyt (L) celebrates after his team won the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 21 2013. (Photo Credit: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The AJ Foyt Racing pit crew celebrates after Takuma Sato won the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 21 2013. (Photo Credit: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
Dario Franchitti leads Ryan Hunter-Reay, Mike Conway, James Hinchcliffe and Takuma Sato to the start of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 21 2013. (Photo Credit: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
The cars funnel into turn 1 at the start of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 21 2013. (Photo Credit: Richard Dowdy for IndyCar Media)
The AJ Foyt Racing team celebrates after winning the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on Sunday, April 21 2013. (Photo Credit: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway and Team Owner Ed Carpenter celebrate victory in Race 2 of the Honda Indy Toronto (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Chevrolet sweeps the podium with winner Mike Conway (center), driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrating his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. Tony Kanaan (left), driver of the #10 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet celebrates his second-place finish. Will Power, driver of the #12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet celebrates his third-place finish. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, celebrates his victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, takes the chequered flag while racing to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Michael L. Levitt/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway, driver of the #20 Fuzzy`s Ultra Premium Vodka / Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet IndyCar V6, races to victory Sunday, July 20, 2014 during the second of two IndyCar Series races through the streets of Exhibition Place, in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Phillip Abbott/LAT for Chevy Racing)
Mike Conway on his way to victory in the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Joe Skibinski for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway jumps for joy after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway with the winner`s flag after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Mike Conway, Tony Kanaan and Will Power celebrate on the podium after the second round of the Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader on Sunday July 20 2014. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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Olek135i - Unregistered

April 22, 2013 4:20 PM

Congratulations to Sato! He has been a great drivr who just never seem to get a break. I remember hi move on Alonso in Montrel and then aseeing some guys in Indy witha Alonso FEARS Sato!!!! sign. Stll my favorite sign to date.



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