Trouble at the Beach for Andretti Autosport

Leave a comment

Andretti Autosport’s bid to claim the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach was severely impacted by a crash that came just after a restart on Lap 35 of today’s event.

Three of the four Andretti drivers were involved in the incident, which began when James Hinchcliffe (pictured) attempted to pass Tony Kanaan on the inside of Turn 1. The pass went awry when Hinchcliffe hit the back of Kanaan instead, causing him to go into the inside wall and then ricochet into teammate E.J. Viso before hitting the Turn 1 tire barriers. Viso kept going, but Hinchcliffe could not and upon returning to pit road, “The Mayor” quickly rode off on his scooter with his helmet still on.

“I didn’t get the best restart and Tony had a smokin’ one and I was trying to keep, I think it was [Simon] Pagenaud, behind me on the inside as we got down to Turn 1,” said Hinchcliffe, who finished 26th. “…I don’t know if Tony was trying to do a last minute pass or if he was getting squeezed by someone else, but he moved in the brake zone and I just had nowhere to go and day done.”

In addition, Ryan Hunter-Reay also sustained damage, which forced him to the pits to receive a new front wing. Then on Lap 49, his day ended when he went into Turn 8 too hot while trying to pass Ana Beatriz and slammed into the tires there (he was credited with 24th place).

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Viso soldiered on until he parked his car with 10 laps to go, settling for 22nd place.

Marco Andretti kept the day from turning into a total bust for the group by rising from 25th starting position to seventh at the checkered flag — another sure sign of progress for him on street circuits, which were especially rough on the third-generation driver last season.

“Going into this, I knew that this would be about the best we would finish,” Andretti said. “I am definitely pleased with how we climbed our way through the field and how we stayed consistent throughout the day. We knew that if we just stayed in the race and didn’t make any mistakes, we would be good. I had some front wing damage and a lot of understeer the whole race.”

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

Photo courtesy Audi Sport
Leave a comment

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.