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Podium Finish for Wilson in St. Petersburg

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Open Wheel Racing Topics:  Sebastian Saavedra, Stefan Wilson, Grand Prix of St. Petersburg

Podium Finish for Wilson in St. Petersburg

Andrew Herta
Bryan Herta Autosport
March 28, 2010

The opening round of the Firestone Indy Lights Series provided a wet and wild race on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla. Bryan Herta Autosport drivers Stefan Wilson and Sebastian Saavedra found mixed results on the tight and challenging temporary street circuit with Wilson earning his first career Indy Lights podium in only his seventh start and Saavedra falling victim to the wet weather conditions.

Wilson started the race 14th after contact in qualifying relegated the #28 Forsythe Solutions Dallara to the back of the grid. He was able to take advantage of the misfortunes of others to find himself in fifth position when the race was restarted 25 minutes in after a break to allow teams to change to rain tires. He spent the remaining 35 minutes pressuring Jan Heylen for second but had to settle for third in the end.

Saavedra fared better in qualifying, starting third in the #29 William Rast machine. He assumed the lead of the race at the start after contact between polesitter James Hinchcliffe and Philip Major but that reign ended three laps later after he was spun by an overly optimistic move from Charlie Kimball. Saavedra was shown in 10th place at the restart on Lap 9 and moved up to sixth position by Lap 14 behind teammate Wilson. After rising to fourth, Saavedra fell victim to the weather conditions, tapping the wall in Turn 8 with 10 minutes remaining.

Bryan Herta Autosport will return to the track on April 11 at Barber Motorsports Park.

Race Results:
1. JK Vernay
2. Jan Heylen
3. Stefan Wilson
12. Sebastian Saavedra

Stefan Wilson, #28 Forsythe Solutions Dallara/Firestone: “Firstly, I want to thank Forsythe Solutions for their support in this event. I also want to thank all my crew guys for working hard late last night. I started the weekend off pretty happy with the car in the first practice and was P3 in the session. I thought it was going to be a good weekend but it was a bit of a rollercoaster. I made a mistake in qualifying and it cost me badly. I went into the wall in Turn 8 and had to start at the back of the field for the race. That quickly changed when the rain started to come down and there were cars going off. It was pretty slick out there and the white lines on the runway were treacherous. A lot of people made a lot of mistakes in front of me and I quickly found myself in the P5 position. When it went back to green after the break, we started moving up. In the end, the car was really good but it was hard to pass because the white lines dictated the line into the corner. I was unable to make it past Jan [Heylen], but the car was really great and I want to thank everyone.”

Sebastian Saavedra, #29 William Rast Dallara/Firestone: “It was a very interesting race and very interesting start to the season. It was great start, being able to take over P1. There was a yellow flag after that because the track was already getting wet and we were on slicks. I tried to be very conservative, but I was bumped out by Charlie Kimball and that stopped our progress in the race for the moment. We pitted to change to rain tires and the team did a good job with the setup. I went out again and conservatively worked my way up to fourth behind Stefan and was trying to help him for both of us to get to the front. There was some standing water in Turn 8 and I clipped the wall which put me out of the race. I am still very positive. We know that we are competitive and there are still lots of races to go.”

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