Conquest Racing team boss Eric Bachelart has called on the Indy Racing League to reassess the IndyCar Series' pit closure rules after Alex Tagliani missed out on a potential victory in Toronto.
Tagliani was leading the race when a yellow came out on lap 58 for a collision between Graham Rahal and Ed Carpenter. Many drivers had made their final pit stops just before the incident, but Tagliani had yet to stop, and because the pits were closed when the yellow was declared, he had to wait until the field formed up behind the pace car before pitting, dropping him down the order.
Prior to that, he had looked a likely victor, having moved up from fifth to second at the start and then jumped ahead of eventual winner Dario Franchitti at the first stops.
"It's hard to accept that we can lose a race, when we have been dominating the whole time, because of a yellow," said Bachelart. "I really think that the officials should have a hard look at their rules. I think that too many times we have seen the leader lose the race because of a yellow. The current rules do not always reward the best car and driver on the track and it becomes a bit of a gambling exercise."
Tagliani was equally frustrated by the regulations. Having gained the lead thanks to running long in his first stint, he said he had been happy to stay out late before his final stop as well.
"It's very unfortunate to dominate like this in a race and lose it by a 'pits are closed' rule," said the Canadian. "We were kind of the victim of our own performance. The car was great on tires and fuel. I was driving a really good race, and I didn't have the need to pit. Guys were pitting behind us and when the yellow came out because of an incident, I couldn't pit to keep the advantage I had.
"That rule really destroyed our whole race. It's a shame to see it slip away between our fingers. But in the end, we came here and we showed that we could be faster than anybody else."
Conquest is only contesting a part-season this year but has been a top-10 factor on the street courses on every appearance. Despite his frustration at the Toronto result, Bachelart felt the performance promised much for the future.
"I very much appreciate the team effort and Alex's brilliant driving today," he said. "It's obviously a very disappointing result, but we proved we have the potential to win a race and hopefully it will happen soon."
After the delay under yellow, Tagliani was later involved in a collision with Tomas Scheckter as both tried to pass Mario Moraes' damaged car. While Tagliani was able to rejoin and finish ninth, Scheckter - who had also led the race for a while on an alternate strategy – had to retire and was strongly critical of the Canadian's driving.
"I just got hit from behind," said the Dreyer & Reinbold driver. "We dug deep and drove a hard race the whole race, and such a stupid mistake by Tagliani to just hit me from behind when Moraes has got a broken wing in front. I passed him and then I got a hit from behind. Just un-called for. People racing with no brains."
But Tagliani said the clash was just a typical street racing tangle.
"Guys fighting for the same position, running on the inside and trying to protect positions, other guys have a really great run on them, go to the inside and everyone's trying to protect," he said. "We touched, everyone came out okay other than Tomas. It was a racing incident."