Monaco Increase driver comes back from 10th on the grid to podium finish in opening Indycar race
Monaco Increase driver Alex Palou took a sensational second place finish in the opening round of the 2022 Indycar series at the Firestone Grand Prix of St.Petersburg, after starting from tenth on the grid! Alex’s race was a masterpiece of tire and fuel management, perfectly supported by CGR team’s strategists. The key point of Palou’s race came under a caution period on lap 25. Alex had been able to gain two positions right at the start of the race (fitting ‘Alternative’ tires) and a perfectly executed pitcall under the yellow flag meant that he could leave the pit-road ahead of Colton Herta, Marcus Ericsson and Romain Grosjean who had been previously in front of him on track. From then on, the MIM-supported driver was able to keep a strong pace which, in the final stages of the race, took him only tenths of a second behind polesitter Scott McLaughlin. Palou chased the New Zealander all the way to the chequered flag and once the race was over, drove his car alongside McLaughlin’s to congratulate him on his maiden Indycar victory. “I tried everything and I was close in the end, but Scott’s car was fast in track sections which allowed him not to be overtaken on the final straight, so it’s not too frustrating. In the end I took podium in P2 and I am super happy with that. It was a great weekend. The crew did an amazing job to put the car back together before qualifying after a little contact in free practice and we had no issues in the race, we were able to attack and pass other cars one by one on the track and once again the team did a superb job with the pit-stop. This is my best result so far on a street course, so let’s keep it going. We know that not every day will be like today but hopefully it’s going to be an amazing season!”.
Yes, things hadn’t started well for Palou in the Florida weekend. During free practice, his #10 Honda powered Dallara struggled with an incorrect baseline set-up and Alex could not avoid hitting the wall in the second session, causing some damage to the car. Once repair work was completed and set-up dialed out, the 24-years old Catalan managed to progress through the first stage of qualifying, but had to settle with tenth fastest in the end. Nevertheless, Palou never lost confidence in scoring a good result: “The car isn’t perfect here” he said on Saturday “but we will get into the top 5 tomorrow”. His prediction was correct, but even too conservative… As a matter of fact, Palou’s pace in the morning warm-up – where he had second fastest time – bode well for the race, but passing on the narrow 2.9 Km street circuit of Tampa Bay is never easy. Once again, the MIM driver and CGR were able to take the very best out of race management and this podium finish has Alex running a strong second in the points standings, with a total of 41 which counts in the extra point for a lap led. Now the series will take a long break before engines are started again at the Xpel 375 on March 20th.