DETROIT — No. 11 Sebastien Bourdais won the second Chevrolet Dual Race by 1.7644 seconds over No. 14 Takuma Sato with No. 15 Graham Rahal pulling in third.
“It was a very tricky race,” Bourdais said during the press conference. “When the red flag came out and before I knew it was a timed race, it was gonna be green after, I hoped I didn’t run out of fuel. I had .12 gallons left,” he added. What was your last thoughts before the end of the race? Bourdais said, “There was no concern of saving fuel. I thought of going straight to the green. It was about making no mistakes.”
The rain didn’t stop the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix during the weekend of May 29-31. Die hard fans showed up with anticipation of the race to go on, and it did. The temperature was 51 degrees with a relative humidity of 89 percent and winds from the east at 7 mph. Skies were cloudy and the track temperature was 56 degrees. The race was 70 laps, or 164.22 miles. It’s a 2.35-mile street course. The race became a timed race of two hours due to the wet conditions.
“Today’s rain was a little difficult but we made a good strategy,” Sato admitted. “During the red flag with six laps to go, I had a really good position, it came down to a timed race. It was a great weekend for Honda.”
Early on, No. 2 Juan Pablo Montoya and No. 1 Will Power took first and second spots for 19 laps. Then, No. 9 Scott Dixon took over the lead while Montoya took second. By lap 25, Montoya was leading Power by 1.0582 seconds. Power got off pace on the backstretch and reported his car was in emergency mode and wouldn’t shift. Power had to go into pit lane to change his steering wheel.
There was a full course yellow caution on lap 37 as No. 18 Rodolfo Gonzalez crashed into the turn four wall. Pits were closed. The top five leaders are: Montoya, Dixon, Newgarden, Bourdais and Castroneves. By lap 38, pits were open once again. The race leaders were on pit road for four tires and fuel. No. 5 Conor Daly didn’t stop and assumed the lead of the race with Ryan Hunter-Raey in the number two spot.
Another full course caution happened on lap 42 when No. 20 Luca Filippi spun out at the exit to turn 2 and made contact with the barrier. Then, No. 4 Stefano Coletti made contact with the tire barrier in turn three. By lap 48, Daly leads Hunter-Reay by 2.6840 seconds. During lap 50, No. 67 Josef Newgarden made heavy contact with the barrier in turn two. The car had significant right-side damage. The team leaders were Daly, Bourdais, Montoya, Rahal and Sato. Then, race leader Daly came into pit road for four tires and fuel giving the lead to Bourdais.
On lap 55, there was a multi-car accident at the exit of turn three involving Coletti, Hawksworth and Karam. Turn three was under a review and became subject to a post-race review. Bourdais led the field into turn one. Kimball and Dixonmake side-to-side contact between turns three and four then Dixon hit the wall and skidded into a tire barrier in turn four. It was determined that Rahal had to give up his position and Sato received a penalty for blocking. Daly (blocking) and Karam (avoidable contact) were sent to the back of the field for penalties. The red flag went up with six laps to go to clean up the track.
At the press conference, Graham Rahal said he wasn’t pleased about the penalty for avoidable contact. But he was happy how it all went down. “Concrete and rain is typically the most slippery condition. I was having a lot of issues with fogging inside my visor.” He added, “I am proud of my guys and the people in the pits.”
It was also announced that the race became a timed race when it resumed with a restart on lap 66. Bourdais led the field into turn one. He was ahead of Sato by 0.6081 of a second. The white flag went up as Bourdais led Sato by 1.3737 seconds. On lap 68, the checkered flag went up to end the race. Bourdais won the second race of the Chevrolet Dual in Detroit by 1.7644 seconds over Sato.
“We got rained out in qualifying. Middle stage of race, it started to rain again and I tried to stay off the walls.” With no disrespect, how about you and Juan winning the race now? “I’m 36 years old. Experienced guys are winning now. We are more of an underdog. We like to create an upset and I like the challenge,” says Bourdais.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra was the race’s grand marshal and gave the command “Drivers, Start Your Engines.” She later presented the first place trophy to Bourdais at the Shinola Winner’s Circle.
Saturday’s race results for the first Chevrolet Dual Race were Carlos Munoz in first place, Marco Andretti took second and Simon Pagenaud came in third.
The next race is the Firestone 600 at Texas Motor Speedway in Ft. Worth, Texas on June 6.