Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Will Power Gets Back In The Saddle, KVRT-Lotus Stumbles At The Honda Edmonton Indy

Will Power jumps from his Verizon Penske Racing Dallara while in the winner's circle. Image Credit: IZOD IndyCar Series/Shawn Gritzmacher

Will Power Gets Back In The Saddle, KVRT-Lotus Stumbles At The Honda Edmonton Indy

The Honda Edmonton Indy, the 11th race in a 18 race season of the 2011 IndyCar Series Championship, with its new track layout, proved to be a little less of a bump and run affair than predicted but was not without its contentions. In the end, at 55 points down to series points leader and last year's Championship winner, Dario Franchitti, Will Power came away from Edmonton with a commanding performance for the win.

Great hope bubbled over and finally fizzed out for two of the three team-mates of KV Racing Technology-Lotus. Takuma Sato qualified in the Peak Pole position and E.J. Viso in position 5 on the grid and as predicted, turns #1, #5, and #13 were pivotal to the fortunes (or lack thereof) of these KVRT-Lotus drivers.

KVRT-Lotus' Takuma Sato leads the field through turn one with Will Power, Dario Franchitti, and E.J. Viso in tow. Image Credit: IZOD IndyCar Series/Shawn Gritzmacher

At the drop of the checkered flag, Takuma Sato led the field in strong fashion until he locked-up his brakes before turn #13 on Lap 19 which allowed eventual winner Will Power to steal the lead. After the first pit stop, the Japanese driver had fallen back to P5 but surged to the front again following a spectacular re-start through turns #1, #2, and #3. He sliced back into second behind Power under braking for the Turn #5 hairpin, while just behind in P4, his team-mate Viso slid into Scott Dixon, spun and stalled.

E.J. Viso said: "I started up at the front and on one of the restarts I made contact with Dixon, which I feel bad about as he finished the race some laps behind. It was a pretty messy corner and I got too close and braked on the inside and we hit. I then lost a lap waiting to be restarted and from then on there was not much else we could do. We had a pretty fast car during the race. I think I got the second fastest time and we showed we were strong as a team all weekend. I want to thank everyone who is part of KVRT–Lotus who has helped make us stronger and also my sponsors PDVSA. I really feel bad. I thought we had a chance for a podium." E.J. finished the race in P20.

As for Sato, he was able to soldier on until he had a problem with another driver, Ryan Hunter-Reay with Andretti Autosports, battling for space in turn #13.

Takuma Sato said: "It is disappointing finishing in the back like this. The start was very exciting. I had a good feeling leading the race. Then I had a little problem with the balance and lost some positions. After that there was a caution and we changed tires. On the restart I regained most of the positions and was running in second. Everything was looking good and I was comfortable with the pace, but unfortunately Hunter–Reay hit me and damaged my car and put me a lap down. It was a long race after that and very difficult to stay motivated. I feel very bad for all the crew. They worked so hard all weekend. It was a positive weekend for us until the middle of the race. I am just so disappointed." Takuma Sato finished the race just behind Viso in P21.

Tony Kanaan shows his experience by quietly driving his Geico sponsored KVRT-Lotus Dallara from a starting position of 11th place to finishing in position 4 and staying out of trouble. Image Credit: IZOD IndyCar Series/Daniel Incandela

On the brighter side, KV Racing Technology-Lotus driver Tony Kanaan finished fourth on the re-configured airport tarmac asphalt in Edmonton on Sunday.

"It was a good result, it was a good race and it's great for the Geico – KV Racing - Lotus crew," Kanaan said. "If felt good being out there with those guys, you know, all guys that know what they are doing like Justin, Ryan and Dario. We had some great battles and finishing fourth after starting eleventh, and on top of that having a bad pit stop, is pretty rewarding, especially considering that I got back to fourth in the championship. I feel bad for my teammates because I know that all the three KV cars were supposed to be in the top-five."

As for Will Power, last years points leader at this stage of the season and eventual runner-up to Dario Franchitti was able to claw his way back into the championship fight. Starting the day 55 points down, Will was able to pass and hold off the challenges of Takuma Sato, team-mate Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti to gain 17 points (15 points for position and 2 points for most laps led) in the season points championship.

Will Power will enter the next race at another road course only 38 points down, at a race track where he has had some success at but has never won. Last year, for example, he qualified for the pole, but the driver who qualified in P2 ended up winning while Power finished in P2. Yes, that driver was the Target Chip Ganassi Racing #10 Dallara, Dario Franchitti.

Former ChampCar World Series team and driver begin a consistent run. Dale Coyne Racing and Sebastien Bourdais respectively register two top 10 finishes in a row, and post a race fastest lap in Edmonton through the Canadian swing in the season schedule. Image Credit: IZOD IndyCar Series

FYI - It took only 78.9590 seconds for Dale Coyne Racing's Sebastien Bourdais to record the fastest lap of the race on Lap 80 of the 80-lap event. "SeaBass" ... the former annual ChampCar World Series champion (he won four consecutive driver championships with Newman/Haas Racing) finished in P6 over the two Canadian events (Toronto and Edmonton) which represent the season's best finishes for him and Dale Coyne Racing.

The attrition in a race that was expected to be high, due to tempers that may have flared at the end of the full course Yellow Flag plagued Honda Indy Toronto and the track re-configuration with the tight turns of #1, #5, and #13 at the end of long straightaways, was very low. Eighteen (18) cars finished on the lead lap -- the highest total of the season.

... notes from The EDJE

[Article first published as Will Power Gets Back In The Saddle, KVRT-Lotus Stumbles At The Honda Edmonton Indy on Technorati]

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