Team Stargate Worlds/HVM Racing driver Simona De Silvestro was disappointed, yet upbeat after her wild IndyCar Series debut on the streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
The Swiss driver qualified 11th in her No. 78 Stargate Resistance car, having been one of many to find the walls on the treacherous track during the practice sessions. After narrowly missing the five-car wreck at the start, De Silvestro's car suffered a flat right-rear tire during the lengthy full-course caution. She re-entered in 13th and, by lap 18, the young rookie had been relegated to the 17th spot, as she had a full load of fuel to contend with.
Her fortune would change when the yellow flag came out, allowing all drivers to take their pit stops, with the exception of De Silvestro, who stayed out. The move allowed her to take the lead, making her the first IndyCar first timer to do so since Graham Rahal at St. Petersburg in 2008. De Silvestro soon found herself fighting with Ryan Hunter-Reay (pictured) and Dario Franchitti for the lead.
Their battle came to an end when the skies over Sao Paulo opened up, forcing all drivers back to their pits to put on their rain tires. De Silvestro stayed out, but unfortunately the pits would close, which resulted in her being forced to stay out on the racetrack for six laps during the downpour.
After the half-hour red flag period, De Silvestro came back out but was once again bitten by bad luck. She began to experience rear suspension problems causing her to take a trip back to the pits for repairs. After losing three laps, she returned to finish in 16th place.
"Despite the rear braking problems and the different things that happened during the race, it was a real good experience," said De Silvestro. "I think we can be pretty competitive during the year. Now we just have to continue to work real hard and I'm sure we'll go in the right direction."
Team principal Keith Wiggins pronounced himself satisfied, while sharing his driver's disappointment at the final result.
"We started off pretty good, obviously, and we got into a pretty good position and looked very strong," he said, "but it went a bit against us when the rain came and the pits closed. It went downhill from there. It's a bit of a disappointing finish considering she was doing such a fantastic job."