After enjoying a promising month of May heading into the Indianapolis 500, the de Ferran Dragon Racing team had its fortunes spoiled when both HP cars, the Nos. 2 and 21, were knocked out of the race before the halfway mark.
Davey Hamilton spun out and made contact with the wall as he tried to avoid an incoming Tomas Scheckter on the first lap of the race, while Raphael Matos had a promising day end when he hit the wall in Turn Two on lap 73.
"Whoever said racing is a predictable sport was not in our shoes today," de Ferran Dragon managing partner and president Gil de Ferran said. "It was unfortunate what happened to Davey at the start. Rafa clearly showed his quality as a driver and how fast our car was, running a genuine third and keeping pace with the leaders. But then fate intervened."
Matos, who started 12th, climbed into the top five on the 13th lap and jumped up to third on the 44th lap. He remained a solid third for the next 22 laps when the misfortune kicked in. The inside rear tire came off the car as Matos fired out from the team's second pit stop. He dropped into 24th place after the mishap and spun into the wall seven laps later trying to make up ground.
"I'm very disappointed the way it ended," Matos said. "We had some trouble in the pits and I was trying hard to recover. I got into the marbles and that was it. I am disappointed for the team because we had a really good car."
Hamilton never had a chance to find out what kind of car he had because trouble found him almost immediately. Scheckter was charging hard into turn 2 and forced Hamilton to take avoiding action to prevent contact with Scheckter, but the maneuver sent him spinning into the wall.
"It's just hard to believe that we went out on the first lap," Hamilton said. "I'm very disappointed with Scheckter. I know you can't win on the first lap. It's unfortunate for the team and sponsors who worked so hard to put me in this race to not make it through turn two of the first lap. We didn't even get to race."
Despite the shortened day and damaged cars, both Hamilton and Matos were uninjured and the team will race next week in Texas.
"On balance, we had a good month of May in Indianapolis," de Ferran said. "The guys did a really good job in a short period of time, as we grew into a two car team. The preparation that went on and all of the work everyone did to make us one of fastest cars is to be commended. Even though the race didn't go the way we hoped, we put on a good show in qualifying and certainly in the early stages of the race, that is something we should be proud of. Onwards and upwards!"