2013 F1RWRS Indianapolis 500
The 2013 F1RWRS Indianapolis 500 was a 500 mile car race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. It was the second F1RWRS Indianapolis 500 held but unlike the inaugural race in 2012, this race was a non-championship event. It was won by Englishman and former F1 driver Jack Christopherson in his first ever race in the series.
With the championships basically wrapped up by Mark Dagnall and Dagnall Engineering respectively with several races to go, the attention of the paddock became focused on the non championship race at the IMS. In the buildup to the race, thanks to new regulations for this year which meant that teams could enter up to three cars each, meant that many drivers would make their debut in the F1RWRS at the famed Speedway. In all there were 9 rookies in the field including two former F1 drivers in Jack Christopherson and Mirko Bosevic, MRT development driver Mitchell Macklin and Belgian hopeful and Gillet F2RWRS driver Laurent Seron. In addition to the new drivers there were also many changes throughout the field with Horizon entering Daniel Melrose in a third car for his first visit to Indianapolis since 2007 and Mark Dagnall having a one off drive for ArrowTech, allegedly for the sum of $1 million from new ArrowTech owner Prince Falik
With a F2RWRS race also taking place that weekend, qualifying was condensed from a full day to just under 4 hours from 12 noon to 4 in the afternoon, to accommodate the twilight running of the F2RWRS Fedex 100. With the shorter session came the expected chaos as the pole time changed hands numerous times throughout the session. With an hour to go, Pippa Mann asserted herself on the time sheets as she set a time which came within a tenth of the lap record. At that point, the order was Mann from Sammy Jones, defending winner Hagane Shizuka, Jesus Plaza and Dean O'Lauchlan. Half an hour later Mann's teammate Ben Fleet bested the time by half a tenth but was quickly eclipsed by Shinobu Katayama, who was relishing the quality of her Sunshine Infiniti car. It looked like Katayama would score an unlikely pole but Mann pipped her by two hundredths of a second right at the death to be on pole from Katayama, Fleet, Plaza and Jones.
Further down the field and Daniel Melrose disappointed in 19th in what was, in theory, a competitive car but in his defense, both his teammate Dean O'Lauchlan and Vidal Reyna-Sanchez spent much of their careers in the US and therefore had plenty of experience on ovals. Jack Christopherson was the best placed of the rookies by starting in the middle of row 4 while Mirko Bosevic, proving that he was one of the many talents F1 never gave a proper go, hauled his Tropico car, effectively the lamentable CR Motorsport car for 2013, to 21st on the grid in front of many people in the 36 car field. Mitchell Macklin and Darren Older Jr both blew their fastest hot laps and ended up on the twelfth and final row alongside Alberto Cara, another one of the rookies in the field, who planted his car heavily into the turn 3 wall, ruining the laps of many people, most notably Belgian Ron Mignolet.
Before the start of the race a memorial was held to two times Indianapolis 500 winner and 2005 IndyCar series champion Dan Wheldon, who was killed in season ending IndyCar race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway the week before. In addition, it was also announced that the drivers would be competing for the Dan Wheldon Memorial Trophy, which would be awarded to the winner at the end of the day.
The race start was relatively clean for the first two rows as Douglas Mann had made an incredible start to lead the race from sister Pippa, Shinobu Katayama, Jesus Plaza and Ben Fleet. Turn 2 however brought the first accident of the day as Saeed Al Faisal ran into the back of Mark Dagnall and Dean O'Lauchlan, sending the ArrowTech car into the air, putting the trio out of the race, and bringing out the first caution of the day. Nicolas Steele, having made a bad start from 23rd on the grid, then had a comical incident under the yellow on the next lap by hitting the back of Phoenix McAllister so hard it put Steele out of the race and forced McAllister into the pits for repairs. The restart on lap 5 proved to be a frantic one as behind the Mann siblings, Ben Fleet was determined to make his way back up front as he sold one down the inside of Plaza heading into turn 3.
The green running didn't last long however as on lap 7, Phillippe Nicolas's gearbox gave up the ghost with GRM's Alexey Pchelintsev spinning into the infield on the back straight to avoid the slowing MRT. With the stricken car recovered, the race went back to green on lap 10 with Douglas Mann still leading. Pippa was having none of it however and on the very next lap, the pole sitter went around the outside of her brother heading into turn 3 and led the next segment of the race as the three Foxdale cars skipped away from the rest of the field. Further back in the field and Sammy Jones was struggling slightly with a car which wasn't tuned to his liking and, as a result, started sliding down the order while Rhys Davies in the HRT and the remaining Horizon cars of Daniel Melrose and Vidal Reyna-Sanchez, started marching their way through the field after their poor qualifying showing.
The next caution came out on lap 26 and, almost predictably, it was for a Foxdale car whose engine had barbequed itself. Unfortunately for Pippa Mann, it was her car and, even more unfortunately for defending winner Hagane Shizuka, it was he who spun on the oil left by the car and hitting the turn 1 wall, requiring lengthy repairs which seemingly removed him from contention and the possibility of going back-to-back. Several midfield runners such as Melrose, Barii Mori and Tommy Nash took the opportunity of the caution to top up on fuel and try to run an alternative strategy to their main rivals and hope that cautions would go their way. With the oil on the road cleaned up, the race went green again on lap 29 with Ben Fleet taking full advantage to leapfrog ahead of Douglas Mann and they both set about pulling away from the field like they did before.
Such was the pace of the Foxdales they trapped many of the midfield runners who had used the alternative strategy over the course of the next 30 odd laps. Thanks to people running that alternative strategy, the likes of Mitchell Macklin, Alberto Cara and Laurent Seron were right in the thick of it in the midfield, with predicable consequences. On lap 53 Macklin and Cara made light contact in turn 2, giving the Australian a puncture. Two laps later Cara's suspension failed due to collision damage, pitching the unfortunate driver heavily into the wall at turn 4, bringing out the caution. By this point Mann had gotten the lead back from Fleet and the pair, as did many others in the field, took the opportunity of the caution to pit for fuel. Out of all the people who had pitted under the previous caution, only Thomas De Bock remained unlapped which meant he ended up 4th on the road after the pit stop sequence from Mann, Fleet and Plaza with Davies, Reyna-Sanchez and former Indianapolis 500 winner John Zimmer right behind him.
It wasn't until lap 62 that the race was restarted and yet again, the Foxdales simply skipped away from the field with De Bock passing Plaza off the restart. The angry battle pack of De Bock, Plaza, Davies, Reyna-Sanchez and Zimmer was later joined by Collin Pratchett and Jack Christopherson which raged on until the next caution. Ironically, this yellow flag was brought out by the battle group when Zimmer ran wide on the marbles and into the wall at turn 4. This caution period saved the day for the midfield runners on the alternative strategy as when they all pitted under this, with well timed caution periods, they could all make it with just one more stop for fuel.
Lap 80 brought the fifth restart of the day with Mann leading from Plaza, who had gotten ahead of Fleet at the restart. The stop-start nature of the race continued however when on lap 85 Darren Older Jr, who had just been lapped for the second time that day, had his suspension collapsed after a light bump with Pchelintsev the lap before whilst he was trying to lap the GRM driver. Many people were considering pitting under this caution period but it was considered too early for the people who had stopped under caution on laps 55 and 56 to make it worthwhile.
Not that fact mattered much to Plaza who, on the lap 89 restart, blasted past Mann who had yet another slow restart, so slow in fact that Ben Fleet nearly got by as well. Christopherson, who got past Pratchett on the previous restart, was also making his intentions known when he got past Davies as well to enter the top 5 in the running order behind Plaza, the two remaining Foxdales and Reyna-Sanchez. This soon became fourth when Reyna-Sanchez spun on the exit of turn 4 on lap 94 and backed it into the inside retaining wall bringing out caution number seven. Many drivers took advantage of this yellow flag sequence to pit for fuel which meant that everyone could get to the end with just one more stop. Slick pit work from the Foxdale crew got Mann back ahead of Plaza.
Since the accident was off the racing line, it was quickly cleared and by lap 97 the race was back underway with Mann leading from Plaza, Christopherson, Fleet and Katayama. Within 2 laps however the race was back under caution when Ben Fleet's gearbox gave up the ghost on the front straight. Pchelintsev again found himself in the thick of it when he hit Hagane Shizuka, who had made up two of the laps that the accident earlier had cost him, whilst trying to avoid the slowing Foxdale car. At half distance the order was Mann still leading the race and seemingly on course to win the race.
The race restarted on lap 105 and Mann started skipping away yet again, in what would turn out to be the first extended green flag running in almost two hours. It was during this sequence that Mann set the fastest lap of the race as he set out to take the race win. Christopherson and Plaza were in a battle for second with the two swapping positions whilst negotiating lapped traffic. It wasn't until lap 139 that the next caution period came out for Dan Greenlaw's engine exploding on the short chute between turns 1 and 2. This caution fell at an opportune time for the field and as a result everyone pitted except for Mann, Christopherson and Plaza and as a result the trio found themselves a lap ahead of the field but all with one more stop to go.
With the oil cleaned off the track, the track went green on lap 142 with Mann retaining the lead off the restart. His lead didn't last long however as his engine developed a misfire soon afterwards and by lap 147 he was in the pits having the problem fixed. He resumed but almost two laps down on the leaders Christopherson and Plaza, who were now the only two people on the lead lap. At the back end of the top 10 there was a furious battle brewing between Ashley Watkinson, Barii Mori, Daniel Melrose, Nathanael Spencer, Mirko Bosevic and Niko Bellic. Mann meanwhile was carving his way through the field as during the green flag period , he passed Frank Zimmer, Katayama, De Bock, Pratchett and Davies over the space of the 30 odd laps until the final caution of the day.
This caution was brought out by a collision on lap 175 between Spencer, Bosevic and Bellic in turn 2. This accident put both Spencer and Bellic out of the race whilst forcing Bosevic in for repairs. Christopherson and Plaza both took this opportunity to get their last pit stops in. This meant Mann was now back on the lead lap, and ahead of Plaza when the Mexican had a bad pit stop. Christopherson had many lapped cars between himself and the remaining two cars on the lead lap and as a result when the restart came around on lap 180 he skipped away, which was as far as the win was concerned.
Behind him, Plaza was trying to find a way past Mann for second place, and did so when with less than 10 laps to go, with the help of lapped traffic in the form of Alexey Pchelintsev, which was an excellent result for Plaza with Mann taking 3rd and commiserating what could have been. Rhys Davies finished 4th ahead of Collin Pratchett, Thomas De Bock, Shinobu Katayama and Frank Zimmer. The battle for 9th ended with Ashley Watkinson victorious with Daniel Melrose rounding out the top 10. Defending winner Hagane Shizuka could only watch as his title slipped way with a 21st place finish, second last on the road.
|4||3||Rhys Davies||Holden||199||+1 LAP||16|
|5||38||Collin Pratchett||ARC-Ford||199||+1 LAP||17|
|6||20||Thomas De Bock||Gillet ENB||199||+1 LAP||22|
|7||16||Shinobu Katayama||Sunshine-Infiniti||199||+1 LAP||2|
|8||42||Frank Zimmer||GRM-Holden||199||+1 LAP||13|
|9||4||Ashley Watkinson||Holden||199||+1 LAP||10|
|10||46||Daniel Melrose||Horizon-BMW||198||+2 LAPS||19|
|11||26||Barii Mori||Kamaha-Yamaha||198||+2 LAPS||14|
|12||21||Aurelien Moll||Gillet ENB||198||+2 LAPS||25|
|13||12||Ron Mignolet||Phoenix-Audi||198||+2 LAPS||29|
|14||43||Tommy Nash||GRM-Holden||198||+2 LAPS||24|
|15||52||Laurent Seron||Gillet ENB||197||+3 LAPS||32|
|16||40||Sammy Jones||Jones-Ford||197||+3 LAPS||5|
|17||36||Daniel Martins||ArrowTech-Ford||197||+3 LAPS||15|
|18||45||Mitchell Macklin||MRT-BMW||195||+5 LAPS||34|
|19||21||Phoenix McAllister||Phoenix-Audi||194||+6 LAPS||26|
|20||58||Mirko Bosevic||Tropico-Life||194||+6 LAPS||21|
|21||9||Hagane Shizuka||FAT Turbo-Hart||190||+10 LAPS||7|
|22||63||Alexey Pchelintsev||GRM-Holden||187||+13 LAPS||33|
|Ret||7||Vidal Reyna-Sanchez||Horizon-BMW||94||Accident T4||18|
|Ret||32||Darren Older Jr||Tropico-Life||83||Suspension||35|
|Ret||44||John Zimmer||Holden||76||Accident T4||22|
|Ret||17||Saeed Al Faisal||Sunshine-Infiniti||1||Collision||12|
|Race average speed: 131.4348 mph|
|Lead changes: 7 between 5 drivers|
|Cautions: 10 for 40 laps|
- Pole: Pippa Mann: 0:37.40 (240.6417 mph)
- Fastest Lap: Douglas Mann: 0:38.24 (235.3556 mph)
Five drivers led the race, with a total of seven lead changes.