Two races into Lotus’ campaign, powering five cars on the IndyCar grid, its engines have shown great potential and a big step forward.
Sebastien Bourdais finished ninth, giving Lotus its first Top 10 finish as an IZOD IndyCar Series manufacturer.
“It feels like a victory”, said Sebastien Bourdais (# 7 Lotus Dragon Racing) with a trembling voice, as he stepped out of the car at the end of the race. Bourdais, who drove one of the most exciting races of his career, added “I am so happy for the guys on my team. They worked so hard to give me a good car. The Lotus car was awesome. It was so dialed in. Jay Penske put a great team together, and I am so happy to be reunited again with my engineer, Craig Hampson. I can’t thank my team enough. The motor is better but not where we want to be. We were conservative on power, but we were able to hold the pace and take good care of the tyres while other teams killed their tyres. It’s what allowed us to move up from the 17th position. All in all, this was a great day for the Dragon Racing Team and for Lotus. This brings back good memories of the days when I was winning races.”
Bourdais’ teammate, Katherine Legge (#6, Dragon Racing) finished 23rd: “We were basically testing today during the race, with tyre pressures, bar settings, and different things. Because we were testing, we were on a different strategy than everyone else. We were having to move over [to allow others to pass] and so we were getting into the marbles, which ultimately led to my spin,” recalled the IndyCar rookie.
Team owner Jay Penske beamed with pride when asked about what positives exist in this development phase. “I should show you the section times. In the corners and twisty sections, we are fast. And so far, we have had no mechanical failures on the car,” said Penske. “It’s really a sign of what a great job the team has done building these cars and basically doing development out of the trucks at the races.”
Despite having very limited track time this weekend, Oriol Servia (#22 Lotus DRR) finished 13th after starting from 26th place. As he crossed the start/finish line at the end of the race, Oriol came over the radio to the guys saying, "How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Great job guys, we will keep getting there." After getting out of the car, he said: “We were as good as anyone in the corners for sure, and that's what helped me move to the front. We had good lap speed, a good strategy, pitted early and put good laps together and passed a couple of cars, which is an odyssey with the lack of speed that we have on a straight line. I know it's 13th place, but it feels like a podium."
Simona De Silvestro (#78 – Lotus HVM Racing) drove a strong race, making several passes on track to gain positions. At one point the Swiss driver had climbed up to 17th place. She was pretty satisfied with her day, despite some problems with the pit stops. ” We had a couple of boo-boos in the pits which didn’t help us, but I think we had a solid car and drove pretty well. We really just have to take the positive out of this weekend and go even better next weekend.”
For Alex Tagliani (#98 BHA Lotus Team Barracuda), the race started and ended on lap one, due to engine failure. "We took the green flag, went into turn one and the engine just died," said Tagliani. "It seems to be a pretty heavy mechanical failure from what I understand. What's sad is that we didn't get to use our red tyres this weekend - we saved them all for the race and we didn't even have the chance to try one set of them this weekend."
Claudio Berro, Director of Lotus Racing was elated with today’s results. “First, I want to congratulate the Lotus drivers and their teams for doing such a great job this weekend. Congratulations to Sebastien for his ninth spot finish, to Oriol for moving up the field so well, to Simona for putting in a great drive, to Katherine for being patient and putting in all the laps, and to all four Lotus teams for finding really good setups and for their hard work and perseverance. However, we feel very badly for Alex Tagliani and would like to apologize to him and the BHA Team.” He added, “Lotus will continue to push the engineers to make the engines better. We will keep working hard and push for good results.”
In two weeks, the Lotus teams head to the west coast for the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. The 85-lap competition will be broadcast live on NBC Sports Network at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Time of race: 2:01
Average Speed: 102.081 mph
Number of laps: 100
Caution Laps: 10
Fastest Lap: Will Power (114.379 mph)
Results of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama IZOD IndyCar Series event on the 2.3 mile Barber Motorsports Park, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
P9. (17) Sebastien Bourdais, Dallara-Lotus, 90, Running
P13. (26) Oriol Servia, Dallara-Lotus, 90, Running
P20. (21) Simona de Silvestro, Dallara-Lotus, 89, Running
P23. (24) Katherine Legge, Dallara-Lotus, 85, Running
P26. (25) Alex Tagliani, Dallara-Lotus, 0, Mechanical