Former F1 driver Takuma Sato has finally broken through to claim his first IndyCar Series win, and become Japan’s first winner of a major open-wheel race in the United States.
After starting fourth in the Grand Prix of Long Beach, the diminutive driver took his AJ Foyt Dallara Honda into the lead at the race’s halfway point, and when the frantic race ended with a late accident for Tony Kanaan, the win was guaranteed.
Completing an emphatic Honda 1-2-3-4 were Graham Rahal, Justin Wilson and polesitter Dario Franchitti.
After a troubled start to the 2013 season, the Rahal Letterman Lanigan team claimed a podium finish with Graham Rahal finishing in second place, while Wilson climbed an incredible 21 positions from his 24th-placed starting position to finish third.
Fourth-placed Franchitti had controlled proceedings early on, but lost the lead with a fumbled pit stop when his car was dropped off its air jacks minus one wheel. But after successive DNFs in the opening races at St Petersburg and Alabama, a fourth-placed finish would have almost felt like a win.
The top Chevrolet driver, in fifth place, was JR Hildebrand – a driver not known for his street circuit prowess – who kept his head while several lost theirs to give the Panther team a top-five finish,
Despite contributing to Tony Kanaan’s crash on the penultimate lap of the race, Oriol Servia finished sixth in the sister Panther/DRR car, while Michael Andretti netted himself another top-ten finish, despite losing time early on to have a damaged front wing replaced and having to start from a lowly 25th on the grid.
Aside from Andretti’s top-ten finish, it was a race to forget for the Andretti Autosport and Team Penske squads.
Teammate and winner of the previous race in Alabama, Ryan Hunter-Reay, crashed out of proceedings, while James Hinchcliffe also fell foul and managed to involve teammate EJ Viso as well!
Over in the Team Penske camp, open-wheel returnee AJ Allmendinger retired retired after suffering wing damage and a broken gearbox. Will Power also had an off day, falling down the order after getting hit by Tristan Vautier in the pits, for which the Frenchman copped a drive-through penalty.
2013 IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Long Beach Final Classification (80 laps):
|No.||Driver||Entry / Team||Laps||Result|
|1.||Takuma Sato||AJ Foyt Enterprises – Honda||80||1:50:08:7155|
|2.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda||80||+ 5.3612|
|3.||Justin Wilson||Dale Coyne Racing – Honda||80||+ 8.2386|
|4.||Dario Franchitti||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||80||+ 12.3573|
|5.||JR Hildebrand||Panther Racing – Chevrolet||80||+ 28.2402|
|6.||Oriol Servià||Panther / D&R – Chevrolet||80||+ 29.4683|
|7.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||80||+ 30.2703|
|8.||Simon Pagenaud||SPH – Honda09||80||+ 31.8674|
|9.||Simona de Silvestro||KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet||80||+ 33.1224|
|10.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske – Chevrolet||80||+ 33.4118|
|11.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||80||+ 33.6278|
|12.||James Jakes||Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda||80||+ 35.0645|
|13.||Josef Newgarden||Sarah Fisher Hartman – Honda||80||+ 35.8945|
|14.||Ana Beatriz||Dale Coyne Racing – Honda||80||+ 36.3442|
|15.||Sébastien Bourdais||Dragon Racing – Chevrolet||80||+ 36.5936|
|16.||Will Power||Team Penske – Chevrolet||80||+ 43.0022|
|17.||Tristan Vautier||SPH – Honda||80||+ 51.7961|
|18.||Ed Carpenter||Ed Carpenter Racing – Chevrolet||80||+ 56.4533|
|19.||Alex Tagliani||Barracuda Racing – Honda||79||+ 1 lap|
|20.||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology – Chevrolet||78||+ 2 laps|
|21.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing – Honda||78||+ 2 laps|
|DNF.||E.J. Viso||Team Venzuela – Chevrolet||53||Damage|
|DNF.||AJ Allmendinger||Team Penske – Chevrolet||51||Gearbox|
|DNF.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||49||Accident|
|DNF.||Mike Conway||Rahal Letterman Lanigan – Honda||38||Mechanical|
|DNF.||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport – Chevrolet||34||Accident|
|DNF.||Sebastián Saavedra||Dragon Racing – Chevrolet||1||Accident|