Long Beach flashback: Power hangs on in 2012

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Last year’s Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach saw Will Power overcome a 10-spot grid penalty and hold off a hard-charging Simon Pagenaud in the closing laps to win at the famous street circuit for the second time.

Power and all the other Chevrolet-powered drivers were forced to take those penalties because of the Bowtie’s decision to swap all of its engines. In a test session at Sonoma Raceway just days before the event weekend, issues were discovered on James Hinchcliffe’s Chevy powerplant that the manufacturer felt could affect every driver within its ranks.

At the start of the race, Power was 12th but still made his way through the field with the help of a two-stop strategy. He took the lead on Lap 71 after Pagenaud made his third stop of the afternoon.

But the Frenchman was far from done. Coming out of the pits in fourth position, he quickly hacked into Power’s sizable advantage with laps that were more than a second quicker than the leaders. He hunted down Rubens Barrichello for third, then dusted Takuma Sato for second place with six laps left.

Unfortunately for Pagenaud, he simply ran out of time as Power held on to win by .87 of a second.

“We saved enough fuel to be able to push for the last two laps, so I felt we were pretty safe,” said Power. “The only thing was the couple of back markers there on the last [lap]. That was the only thing that really concerned me. But apart from that, it was just running as hard as I possibly could, getting a good lap time with high fuel mileage, and that was the key to the race.”

Despite the engine penalties, Chevy-powered drivers earned four of the top five spots at the finish: Power in first, Hinchcliffe in third, Tony Kanaan in fourth, and J.R. Hildebrand in fifth.

You can catch the 2013 Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach next Sunday at 4 p.m. ET on the NBC Sports Network.

Schmidt Peterson hires IndyCar’s first female lead engineer, will work with Hinchcliffe

Photo courtesy Audi Sport
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Leena Gade, who helped lead Audi to three wins in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, has joined Schmidt Peterson Motorsports as lead engineer for the No. 5 Arrow Electronics Honda of driver James Hinchcliffe.

“I’m really honored that I’ve got a chance to come across and work in INDYCAR,” Gade said in a team media release. “When I was a kid, I used to watch Indy car (racing), especially when Nigel Mansell first came over (in 1993), and I followed it quite a lot.

“During my sports car days, it was a little less so, until I had friends come across to the U.S. to work in it like Piers (Phillips, SPM’s general manager).

“I’m quite honored to be given the chance. It is going to be something completely different to anything I’ve ever done before, so it’s a big learning curve, but it’s a challenge that I’m really relishing, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Gade, who grew up in India and is from Great Britain, is one of the most recognized engineers in all forms of international motorsports. She becomes the first female lead engineer in Verizon IndyCar Series history.

She’s also the second female lead engineer in Indy racing history, joining Diane Holl, who served as engineer for Adrian Fernandez, Tony Kanaan (Tasman Motorsports) and Richie Hearn (Della Penna Motorsports) in CART from 1996-2000.

Gade, who holds engineering degrees from the University of Manchester in England, has engineered cars in several race series and for several manufacturers, including F1, BMW, A1 Grand Prix, GT racing, Jaguar, Audi and most recently with Bentley Motorsport.

She became the first female race engineer to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2011, and followed that up with another Le Mans win in 2012, as well as being part of the World Endurance Championship drivers and manufacturers titles in the same year.

Also in 2012, she was named FIA WEC “Man of the Year” and was awarded the C&R Racing Women in Technology award from the Lyn St. James Women in the Winner’s Circle Foundation.

Her team also won Le Mans for a third time in 2014.

“There was significant interest in Leena amongst the international motorsports community, so we’re really excited that she sees where we’re taking SPM, believes in what we’re doing and that she is now a part of our organization,” Piers Phillips said. “ I’ve known Leena for quite some time now and I’ve worked alongside her, so I knew the credit she’s been given is well deserved. We’re very much looking forward to throwing her into the deep end and seeing her add to the team’s success.”

Gade and Hinchcliffe go into the deep end that Phillips referenced when they take part in a team test Jan. 24 at Sebring International Raceway, the first time the pair will work together.