Bourdais beats Daly in opening Detroit battle

Sebastien Bourdais - Credit: Chris Owens / IndyCar

A superior strategy call from both Sebastien Bourdais and Conor Daly ensured the duo claimed first and second place in the opening race around the streets of Belle Isle on Saturday.

Bourdais was never a contender in the first half of the race, but after discarding his red alternate tyres in favour of the black prime tyres on just the third lap, he saw his strategy thereafter play out perfectly, and claimed his first victory of the season in his #11 KVSH Racing entry, despite light rain threatening the course for most of the afternoon.

Daly likewise used a similar strategy call, and emerged in second place following his final stop, giving chase to Bourdais in his Dale Coyne Racing entry but was forced to settle for second for his best result of his Verizon IndyCar Series career to date.

Juan Pablo Montoya was third for Team Penske, but overall it was a difficult day for Roger Penske’s team, who at one point were 1-2-3-4 in the field, with Simon Pagenaud, Montoya and Will Power all spending time in the lead.

An early caution period caused when Max Chilton crashed saw Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves go off strategy, staying on track with their starting alternate tyres while most others behind them pitted. Ultimately this cost both drivers as they were forced into fuel conservation mode, with Pagenaud in particular fading as the race progressed, finishing down in thirteenth, while Castroneves was fifth.

Power was in contention for the victory as well until he lost a wheel following a pit stop during a caution period, caused when James Hinchcliffe crashed his Schmidt Peterson Motorsport car at turn three, with the Australian retiring from the race.

Graham Rahal finished fourth for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing ahead of Castroneves, who was forced to back off considerably at the end, ending more than forty seconds off the leader when the chequered flag fell.

Andretti Autosport duo Carlos Munoz and Ryan Hunter-Reay finished on Castroneves’ tail in sixth and seventh, with Charlie Kimball and Tony Kanaan were eighth and ninth for Chip Ganassi Racing. Last weekend’s Indianapolis 500 winner Alexander Rossi completed the top ten for Andretti Herta Autosport.

Scott Dixon was in contention for the win despite a slow first stop to switch from the red to the black tyres following a problem getting fuel into his car, and was running inside the top three when he emerged from his final scheduled pit stop. Unfortunately the New Zealander was forced back to the pits the following lap and into retirement after appearing to be stuck in gear and crawling around the Detroit track.

Drivers will be back on track Sunday for the second qualifying session of the weekend ahead of the second Dual in Detroit race.

Conor Daly - Credit: Bret Kelley / IndyCar
Conor Daly – Credit: Bret Kelley / IndyCar

Belle Isle Race 1 Result

111Sebastien BourdaisFRAKVSH Racing1:40:51.6838
218Conor DalyUSADale Coyne Racing+2.0401
32Juan Pablo MontoyaCOLTeam Penske+5.7067
415Graham RahalUSARahal Letterman Lanigan Racing+7.4793
53Helio CastronevesBRZTeam Penske+40.0139
626Carlos MunozCOLAndretti Autosport+40.7592
728Ryan Hunter-ReayUSAAndretti Autosport+42.2990
883Charlie KimballUSAChip Ganassi Racing+44.4699
910Tony KanaanBRZChip Ganassi Racing+45.5832
1098Alexander RossiUSAAndretti Herta Autosport+48.2961
1114Takuma SatoJAPAJ Foyt Enterprises+51.1067
1219Gabby ChavesCOLDale Coyne Racing+51.3256
1322Simon PagenaudFRATeam Penske+52.5313
1421Josef NewgardenUSAEd Carpenter Racing+1:06.2350
157Mikhail AleshinRUSSchmidt Peterson Motorsports+1:14.1421
1627Marco AndrettiUSAAndretti Autosport+1 Lap
1720Spencer PigotUSAEd Carpenter Racing+1 Lap
185James HinchcliffeCANSchmidt Peterson Motorsports+5 Laps
RET9Scott DixonNZLChip Ganassi RacingRetired
RET12Will PowerAUSTeam PenskeRetired
RET8Max ChiltonGBRChip Ganassi RacingRetired
RET41Jack HawksworthGBRAJ Foyt EnterprisesRetired