Sebastien Bourdais took victory for Dale Coyne Racing in the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg for the second year in a row as a late clash denied Robert Wickens the win on debut in the Verizon IndyCar Series.

In an incident-packed IndyCar season-opener, Bourdais managed to make an off-piste strategy work to vault himself into contention for victory in the closing stages before striking lucky with a late caution to close up on Wickens and Alexander Rossi.

Wickens had led the majority of the race after taking pole position on debut for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports following his departure from Mercedes' DTM squad, having soaked up consistent pressure from Andretti Autosport's Rossi.

A caution called following a crash for Rene Binder with nine laps to go bunched the pack before a second yellow flag period just five laps later after Max Chilton stalled his car briefly.

The race resumed on a short-call with two laps to go, prompting Rossi to attempt a move down the inside of Wickens at Turn 1, only for the American to lose his car on the slippery paint and career into Wickens, sending him into the wall.

The clash allowed Bourdais to assume the lead before taking the chequered flag under yellows called for Wickens, who was ultimately classified 18th on debut.

Bourdais' win came on his fourth race back in IndyCar since sustaining severe injuries in an accident during qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 last year, marking a repeat result from last year's season-opener in St. Petersburg when he took victory.

Graham Rahal recovered from qualifying last to take second ahead of Rossi, who kept third place despite being investigated for the collision that was ultimately deemed to be a racing incident.

James Hinchcliffe salvaged a top-five for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in P4 ahead of Ryan Hunter-Reay, who bounced back from a trip to the pits at the end of the formation lap.

Scott Dixon wound up sixth for Chip Ganassi Racing ahead of defending champion Josef Newgarden and teammate Ed Jones, while Marco Andretti and Will Power rounded out the top 10 positions.

The IndyCar season continues with the Phoenix Grand Prix on April 7.



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