TEAM AUSTRALIA'S SIMON PAGENAUD DOMINATES GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG TO CAPTURE FIRST VICTORY OF 2014 CHAMP CAR SEASON, RICARDO ZONTA DRIVES FLAWLESS RACE TO FINISH ON THE PODIUM IN 2ND PLACE!!!
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Walker Racing's Team Australia driver Simon Pagenaud made a statement in the Champ Car World Series opening race that will resound throughout the season.
Pagenaud, driving the No. 15 Aussie Vineyards Team Australia car, won the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg Champ Car race by completely dominating for nearly the entire afternoon. Picking up right where he left off at the end of last season. Simon took the drivers to school today on the streets of St. Pete.
"I'm stoked to get this first win especially so early on in the year," said Pagenaud, who started 3rd today. "That’s how you want to start the season. I worked so hard in the offseason and over the winter. We came into the season wanting to win another championship for (team owner) Derrick Walker). The field is so tight that I’m just happy we had a good race car today. It was tough out there.
Simon held off a good last minute charge by former F1 driver Ricardo Zonta who finished 2nd. After a series of caution periods, it was a 22-lap all out sprint to the finish following a restart to prevail by 26.777 seconds. 3rd was held down by another excellent Champ Car competitor in Robert Doornbos who had a difficult time with the handeling of his car around the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit.
"We definitely hung in there," said Zonta, who was racing for the first time at St. Pete. "Things were a little strange at times, not really sure where we were position-wise. But we kept pushing 100 percent, had a good little fight with Simon and Robert, got by them for a bit until the end there. I was pushing as hard as I possibly could. Good points for us and the Newman Haas guys. We’re happy to start the season out this way, so I’m ready to go to Mexico next week.”
Mark Plourde, the reigning series champion, finished 10th today after serving a drive through penalty for not lining up during the 2nd yellow flag caution on lap 52. Mark was running in 5th at that time but fell back to 17th when he rejoined the race after serving his penalty. Mark battled back to a solid 10th.