Alex Palou, a new face at Chip Ganassi Racing for 2021, won from the pole position at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in the first race of the second season of the IndyCar iRacing Challenge.
The young Spaniard led from the drop of the green flag, only losing the lead in the pit stop sequence. Team Penske‘s Scott McLaughlin pit on lap 14 and undercut Palou, who pit on lap 17. On lap 20 Palou caught the Australian driver and passed him on the inside of turn two, squeezing McLaughlin into the grass. Luckily, the two would both be able to continue.
McLaughlin’s off-track moment opened the door for Braden Eves, the first Road to Indy featured driver of the event, who would pounce on the mistake and take second place, where he would finish. Eves will be racing in his second season for Exclusive Autosport in the Indy Pro 2000 series in 2021. McLaughlin would finish third.
Eves was not the only Road to Indy driver in this event. Ed Carpenter Racing was represented by their Road to Indy drivers, Nikita Lastochkin and Simon Sikes, who finished tenth and sixteenth respectively.
Circuit Gilles Villeneuve’s famous hairpin turn 10 proved difficult for many in the field. Romain Grosjean, Takuma Sato and Marcus Ericsson all had individual spins in the corner, while Emerson Fittipaldi tangled with Top Gun Racing‘s RC Enerson there with eight laps to go, sending Emerson spinning into the runoff area. He would recover and finish seventh behind Fittipaldi
A.J. Foyt Enterprises driver Charlie Kimball found himself stuck on pit road, which he later found out to be driver error. He would finish last 25 laps down.
After the race, Palou expressed his displeasure with the pit stop that cost him the lead.
“The race was good, the strategy was not,” Palou said. “To be honest it was a really bad strategy but we made it, it worked out.”
“It was really on the limit, but it was good.”
Next week the series, will go from road course to oval at the Homestead-Miami Speedway on Thursday, 25 March at 23:30 GMT / 18:30 EST, streaming live on IndyCar.com, IndyCar’s Youtube channel and Facebook page, and iRacing’s Youtube channel. Drivers will also be streaming their viewpoints on their own personal accounts.
IndyCar iRacing Challenge Race 1 Results
|1||10||Alex Palou||ESP||Chip Ganassi Racing|
|2||17||Braden Eves||USA||Road to Indy||+ 3.077|
|3||3||Scott McLaughlin||AUS||Team Penske||+ 9.33|
|4||53||James Davison||AUS||Dale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing||+ 15.609|
|5||98||Sage Karam||USA||Andretti Autosport||+ 16.375|
|6||52||Pietro Fittipaldi||BRA||Dale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing||+ 24.437|
|7||75||RC Enerson||USA||Top Gun Racing||+ 27.297|
|8||30||Takuma Sato||JPN||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing||+ 33.414|
|9||8||Marcus Ericsson||SWE||Chip Ganassi Racing||+ 37.217|
|10||21||Nikita Lastochkin||RUS||Ed Carpenter Racing||+ 41.038|
|11||18||Ed Jones||UAE||Dale Coyne Racing w/ Vasser-Sullivan||+ 45.586|
|12||12||Will Power||AUS||Team Penske||+ 46.085|
|13||51||Romain Grosjean||FRA||Dale Coyne Racing w/ Rick Ware Racing||+ 54.418|
|14||59||Max Chilton||ENG||Carlin||+ 1:03.157|
|15||4||Dalton Kellett||CAN||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||+ 1 lap|
|16||20||Simon Sikes||USA||Ed Carpenter Racing||+ 1 lap|
|17||2||Josef Newgarden||USA||Team Penske||+ 1 lap|
|18||11||Charlie Kimball||USA||A.J. Foyt Enterprises||+ 25 laps|