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Vautier eases to debut Indy Lights win at St Petersburg

March 30, 2012

TV Notes

Reigning Star Mazda Champion, Tristan Vautier, took a commanding victory on his Indy Lights debut around the streets of St Petersburg last Saturday.

The Frenchman enjoyed a comfortable race over Sam Schmidt Motorsports teammate Esteban Guerrieri, despite the gap rarely being larger than 2.5 seconds.

Vautier survived four restarts to lead every lap of the way, making it a perfect weekend for the French racer, who also nabbed points for pole position and the most laps led.

Guerrieri stayed close to Vautier for the duration, but the Argentine racer could not effectively close down the leader at any point.

Sebastian Saavedra completed the podium for AFS / Andretti Racing upon his return to the Indy Lights Series. It marks a solid result for the Colombian, who fell to 5th at the first corner, before making moves on Victor Carbone (lap 18) and Oliver Webb (lap 35) to assume 3rd.
Webb continued home to 4th, several seconds ahead of Sam Schmidt teammate Carbone in 5th.

Gustavo Yacaman garnered a controversial 6th place. Upon the restart from the third caution on lap 29, the Colombian ran into the back of Carlos Munoz in a move that was simply going nowhere.
Munoz partially recovered, only to be collected by Juan Pablo Garcia upon the corner exit. Undamaged Garcia finished 7th, while Munoz retired on the spot.

Armaan Ebrahim enjoyed a mostly quiet run to 8th, although he would come under pressure from Troy Castaneda in the final few tours.
Darryl Wills* – the field’s oldest driver at the age 50 (!!) – logged a 10th place finish, albeit one lap down following a spin on lap nine.

Jorge Goncalvez spun his way to 11th, also one lap down, while Alon Day ended the afternoon two laps, when he decided to circulate the track with an obviously flat front right tyre. Juncos Racing’s Joao Horto dropped out three laps from the end, to register a 13th overall.
David Ostella managed an impressive crash in the final turn 21 laps in, while Rodin Younessi pulled out after 5 tours with handling issues.

* {note 1}
While far from being the worst driver ever to run in Indy Lights, there must surely be questions asked as to why 50-year-old Darryl Wills is competing in the series. In what is supposed to be a junior / feeder category, Wills participation in the championship makes a mockery of the concept.
One wonders where exactly the Road to Indy lies in INDYCAR’s priorities, as the current ongoing weaknesses in the (somewhat fractured) programme potentially signals major problems several years down the line.
The sad element is that Wills isn’t keeping a young driver out of the series; if he wasn’t there, there would simply be one less competitor.

2012 Indy Lights Race of St Petersburg (Rd 1)
Pos  Driver               Team            Time / Gap   
 1.  Tristan Vautier      Sam Schmidt       58m22.189s            
 2.  Esteban Guerrieri    Sam Schmidt         + 1.039s 
 3.  Sebastian Saavedra   AFS/Andretti        + 4.752s
 4.  Oli Webb             Sam Schmidt         + 8.581s
 5.  Victor Carbone       Sam Schmidt         +11.602s
 6.  Gustavo Yacaman      Moore               +13.801s
 7.  Juan Pablo Garcia    Jeffrey Mark        +17.449s
 8.  Armaan Ebrahim       Fan Force           +31.578s
 9.  Troy Castaneda       Bryan Herta         +32.118s 
10.  Darryl Wills         Hillenburg           + 1 lap 
11.  Jorge Goncalvez      Belardi              + 1 lap 
12.  Alon Day             Belardi             + 2 laps 
13.  Joao Horto           Juncos              + 3 laps  
Not classified:       
     Carlos Munoz         Andretti             29 laps      
     David Ostella        Moore                21 laps      
     Rodin Younessi       Younessi              5 laps
^Notes compiled from live updates and team releases.
Drivers Championship (Round 1):
 1. Tristan Vautier     53 points
 2. Esteban Guerrieri   40
 3. Sebastien Saavedra  35
 4. Oliver Webb         32
 5. Victor Carbone      30
 6. Gustavo Yacaman     28
 7. Juan Pablo Garcia   26
 8. Armaan Ebrahim      24
 9. Troy Castaneda      22
10. Darryl Wills        20
One Comment
  1. Darryl Wills permalink

    To answer the editor’s question as to why I, Darryl Wills, am in a development series at 50 years old is simple. First reason is that the FIL series is for developing drivers and teams. We are a new team and the Indy Lights series offers us a chance to learn valuable lessons competing at a professional level. The second reason is that our title sponsor wanted an older spokesman to represent their brand during business to business discussions at the events. I won everything there is to win at the amateur level and feel blessed to conclude a 38 year career of racing with a chance to travel the nation competing with the IndyCar series. Our team goal is to gather experience this year, make a name for the team, use our business model to attract future talent and sponsorship and move me to a team manager/driver coaching role enhanced by my Indy Lights experience from this season. BTW, my personal goal is to have people take notice that leading a healthy lifestyle can allow us to chase our dreams even into the advancing years.

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