Detroit Update: Different strategies at play in first half; Helio leads

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Multiple strategies jumbled the running order in the first half of today’s Race 1 of the Chevrolet Indy Dual in Detroit at Belle Isle Park.

During a Lap 5 caution for Simon Pagenaud’s bent suspension, a group of six drivers – Takuma Sato, Will Power, Mikhail Aleshin, Justin Wilson, Charlie Kimball and Ryan Hunter-Reay – opted to make their first stops early.

Then following a Lap 15 crash for Mike Conway (which left both 2013 Detroit winners out of the race), Graham Rahal and Marco Andretti rose to the top two positions after choosing not to pit in either of the first two yellow periods.

The two needed another yellow to make the strategy work, but they didn’t get it; Rahal, after leading his first laps of the year, pitted at Lap 26 and Andretti pitted a lap later.

Power, one of those that pitted in the first yellow, inherited the lead but soon gave way for service at Lap 30. When the pit cycle for Power’s group ended, pole sitter Helio Castroneves returned to the front of the field.

The three-time Indy 500 winner has ran strong today, and at Lap 35 of 70, he held a lead of more than six seconds on fellow front-row starter James Hinchcliffe. Ganassi drivers Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe were in third and fourth, and American driver Josef Newgarden had moved into fifth after starting 14th.

Newgarden’s great run ended badly however at Lap 38, when he came to a stop on track in Turn 7 after an apparent hit into the tire barriers.

Another hard-luck driver today has been Jack Hawksworth, who dispatched Hinchcliffe for second on the opening lap and stayed there until his pit stop during the Conway caution.

Unfortunately for the British rookie, his left-front brake rotor somehow broke and he had to sit for repairs. He’s back on track now, but at several laps off the pace.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.