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FA: Rahal youngest winner after Monterrey victory.


Mi-Jack Conquest Racing Atlantic driver Graham Rahal became the youngest ever winner of a Formula Atlantic race, the 17-year son of Champ Car legend Bobby producing a dominant display to claim victory in round three of the series at Fundidora Park in Mexico.

Rahal Jr led all 32 laps of the Tecate Grand Prix Atlantic race to earn his first victory in the championship, taking advantage of starting from pole in just his third race to end German Andreas Wirth's 100 per cent record.

Fighting off challenges from his pursuers, Rahal made a strong start at the green flag and maintained his position through a tight first lap. After that, he ran a strong race and never really left an opportunity for his 23 rivals to catch him. Posting the fastest lap of 1min 23.206secs - a new Atlantic record for the Monterrey circuit - just three laps from the finish, Rahal got stronger as the race wore on, eventually taking the chequered flag to wash away the bad memory of his second round 'experience' in Houston last weekend.

On that occasion, the rookie was battling Raphael Matos for the lead when the two drivers made contact with five laps remaining. Both fell back down the order, opening the door for series leader Wirth to claim his second victory of the season. After finishing 15th last week, Rahal reclaimed some ground in Mexico, jumping from seventh in the standings to third, and now trails Wirth by 23 points.

"It was a perfect weekend," the American smiled, "We came out strong, quickest by half a second, and never really looked back. The car was balanced all race and I kept in the 23-second bracket and eventually pulled out a big lead.

"The start went well, and I kept telling myself not to make any mistakes. I did make one mistake and lost half a second - going into turn eight, I braked a bit too late, the
rear locked up a little bit and I almost went off - but, from then on, I felt I was driving pretty well. When you do something like that, you lose some time, but, after that, I said that would
be my one and only mistake. I just kept my head down and drove."

Rahal's landmark weekend overshadowed a great effort by rookie Simon Pagenaud. The fast Frenchman earned a second-place starting position and chased the leader hard throughout before settling for his second series podium in as many races. Pagenaud has now finished among the top four in each of his three Atlantic events, and gained ground on Wirth in pursuit of the title, now trailing the German by just five points as the series takes a break before the Grand Prix of Portland on 18 June.

"Everything went pretty well, but I missed the start," The Team Australia driver admitted, "David [Martinez] was inside in the first corner and needed some room to avoid a crash. I


Related Pictures

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Graham Rahal sits in his Honda machine on pit lane during practice for the GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway. (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Will Power, Josef Newgarden, and Graham Rahal drive their machines across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
James Hinchcliffe, Will Power, Josef Newgarden, Marco Andretti, and Graham Rahal at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti, Josef Newgarden, Will Power, Graham Rahal, and James Hinchcliffe bring their machines across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, CA (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal leads a group through the Turn 2 Keyhole turn during the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal and his father, Bobby, celebrate in Victory Circle following their win in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Podium celebrations for Graham Rahal and Justin Wilson after the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Podium celebrations for Graham Rahal, Justin Wilson and Simon Pagenaud after the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal sprays the champagne in Victory Lane following his victory in the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Chris Owens for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal wins the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: Bret Kelley for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal begins the celebration as he wins the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio (Photo by: John Cote for IndyCar Media)
Juan Pablo Montoya, Marco Andretti, and Graham Rahal barrel into Turn 1 during practice for the Iowa Corn 300 at Iowa Speedway. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal flashes across the start/finish line during practice for the ABC Supply Wisconsin 250 at The Milwaukee Mile (Photo by: Shawn Gritzmacher for IndyCar Media)
Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan, and Graham Rahal go three-wide going into Turn 1 during the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal wins the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Saturday, June 27 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal wins the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Saturday, June 27 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal wins the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Saturday, June 27 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)
Graham Rahal wins the MAVTV 500 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California on Saturday, June 27 2015. (Photo by: Chris Jones for IndyCar Media)

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