The streets of Baltimore came alive in a cacophony of colour and sound, but on-track, the only sound passing the finish line in first place was the all-too-familiar Honda of Will Power, as he delivered the message to Dario Franchitti and Team Ganassi – “Game on!”.
Our IndyCar correspondent reviews the latest championship round after the shards of carbon fibre have finally been collected from the bumpy streets of the Maryland city…
Taking a leaf from the Surfers Paradise playbook, the Baltimore harbourside streets were a show for the senses, with packed grandstands all the way around enjoying the best that the IndyCar Series had to offer.
Team Penske and KV Racing found their pre-race activities interrupted by a hasty preparation of their spare cars following a nasty accident involving Hélio Castroneves and Tony Kanaan early in the morning warm-up. At the end of the straight approaching the Turn 3 hairpin, Kanaan found his brake pedal reaching all the way to the floor, indicating no brakes, and catapulted over Castroneves and into the tyre barriers at high-speed. Initially, Kanaan didn’t appear to be moving, but as Castroneves ran to check on his friend, Kanaan was found to be unhurt, with only damaged pride and extremely apologetic for damaging Castroneves’ car.
Starting from pole, Power found himself in second place after the first corner of the 75-lap race, as an eager Graham Rahal took the ideal line through Turn 1. Not one to sit back and wonder though, Power took the inside line into Turn 2 to take it back, and aside from the laps when the field cycled through their pit stops, never lost the lead again all afternoon.
The first casualty of the afternoon was a disappointed Sébastien Bourdais. Starting from a season-high sixth place for Dale Coyne Racing, Bourdais lost his oil line on Lap 10 and headed for the pits, where his day was prematurely done.
The first full-course caution came on Lap 33 when Tomas Scheckter stopped on course. At the restart on Lap 38, chaos ensued at the Turn 3 hairpin as Ryan Briscoe tapped Ryan Hunter-Reay as both turned in, spinning the latter around. With most of the track blocked, the field were unable to get past and when Castroneves tried to take a wide outside line and made contact with the outer tyre barrier, the track was completely blocked and no less than twelve cars were parked behind the fracas. The pace car returned to action as the marshals began to push cars on their way again and the stewards decided to re-set the field in order as it was before the accident, with the only exception being the instigator Briscoe who received a drive-through penalty, pushing him near the back of the running order.
After a very long caution period, the race was restarted on Lap 50. After a few more laps, Power and the leaders made their final pit stops, and after Power resumed in the lead, merely drove into the distance to take an emphatic victory from Oriol Servià, who kept his car out of trouble to finish a strong second. Tony Kanaan did the same, using a well-timed fuel strategy to complete the podium, with Dario Franchitti and Scott Dixon rounding out the top five.
Power’s win took another chunk out of the points lead held by Franchitti, with the deficit now being a tiny five points. There is only one more road course left this season, as the field packs the jumbo jets and heads to Motegi in Japan.
2011 Grand Prix of Baltimore Final Classification (75 laps):
|1.||Will Power||Team Penske||75||2:02:19.4998|
|2.||Oriol Servià||Newman/Haas Racing||75||+ 10.2096|
|3.||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology Lotus||75||+ 10.8557|
|4.||Dario Franchitti||Target Chip Ganassi Racing||75||+ 11.0831|
|5.||Scott Dixon||Target Chip Ganassi Racing||75||+ 11.5032|
|6.||Danica Patrick||Andretti Autosport||75||+ 17.7124|
|7.||Alex Tagliani||Sam Schmidt Motorsports||75||+ 18.5661|
|8.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||75||+ 18.9269|
|9.||Vitor Meira||AJ Foyt Enterprises||75||+ 22.3096|
|10.||Graham Rahal||Service Central Chip Ganassi||75||+ 22.6977|
|11.||Martin Plowman||AFS / Sam Schmidt Motorsports||75||+ 23.7405|
|12.||Simona de Silvestro||HVM Racing||75||+ 24.7568|
|13.||Sebastian Saavedra||Conquest Racing||75||+ 29.6042|
|14.||Ryan Briscoe||Team Penske||75||+ 30.9855|
|15.||EJ Viso||KV Racing Technology Lotus||75||+ 50.6756|
|16.||Ana Beatriz||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||75||+ 1:00.5667|
|17.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||74||1 lap behind|
|18.||Takuma Sato||KV Racing Technology Lotus||73||2 laps behind|
|19.||JR Hildebrand||Panther Racing||73||2 laps behind|
|20.||Ed Carpenter||Sarah Fisher Racing||73||2 laps behind|
|21.||Charlie Kimball||Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi||73||2 laps behind|
|22.||Tomas Scheckter||SH Racing||71||4 laps behind|
|DNF.||Mike Conway||Andretti Autosport||64||Mechanical|
|DNF.||James Hinchcliffe||Newman/Haas Racing||54||Handling|
|DNF.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||40||Mechanical|
|DNF.||Giorgio Pantano||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||39||Contact|
|DNF.||James Jakes||Dale Coyne Racing||37||Contact|
|DNF.||Sébastien Bourdais||Dale Coyne Racing||9||Mechanical|
[Images and video via IZOD IndyCar Series]