Sebastien Saavedra rebounded from a disastrous weekend at Watkins Glen to score an emphatic win in Toronto's Firestone Indy Lights race. On a damp but rapidly drying track, the Colombian started on pole and pulled to an 8-second lead from James Davison, James Hinchcliffe, J.R. Hildebrand and Stefan Wilson in the first six laps.
By that stage, the rain tires that everyone started the race on began deteriorating, triggering a rare round of green flag pit stops for the Indy Lights field. Hildebrand emerged from the pit stops inches ahead of Andretti Green Racing teammate Saavedra, with Hinchcliffe third from Wilson while Davison plummetted down to 11th after a glacially slow tire swap.
Saavedra hounded Hildebrand for the next 10 laps before outbraking the American in the Turn One. Although Hildebrand tried a move of his own at the hairpin Turn Three, Saave dra held him off and opened up a slim lead he would keep the finish.
" For sure, it's tough when you're racing your teammate," said Saavedra. You can't crash with your teammate so for sure there was a lot of thinking and a lot of measuring. I tried to push him into a mistake that never came. So I had to do it myself. I got a good exit from Turn Six, followed him through and got a good draft off the last turn and when we got to the braking zone for Turn One there was no doubt I was going for it."
Hinchcliffe came home a popular third in his hometown, while Wilson was delighted with his fourth place given that his seat broke midway through the race.
"We had a fast car and, after the pit stops, I think we had the fastest car on the track," said Wilson. "But coming through Turn Nine my seat broke and jammed my hand (against the interior of the cockpit). I had to drive through the three turns with one hand.
"I'd like to get to the podium, but James (Hinchcli ffe) did a great job and the AGR cars were going to be hard to beat today."
The drive of the race, though, came from Davison who tigered his way back from his pit stop to finish fifth.
"I've got to be happy with my performance," said Davison, who finished second a week ago at Watkins Glen. "It's a bit disappointing that we had a slow pit stop because I think we had the speed to win. But our time on the top step of the podium will come."
Although Saavedra closed the gap to points leader Hildebrand, the Californian still enjoys a hefty 51-point margin as the Firestone Indy Lights Championship takes a break before racing again at Edmonton on August