O’Ward wins tight duel with Palou as IndyCar’s hybrid era begins

O’Ward wins tight duel with Palou as IndyCar’s hybrid era begins
O’Ward wins tight duel with Palou as IndyCar’s hybrid era begins

New York, Jul 7 (EFE).- Mexican Pato O’Ward (Arrow McLaren) won his second race of the year at Mid-Ohio on Sunday by prevailing in a very tight duel with Spaniard Alex Palou (Chip Ganassi), on the day that marked the beginning of the new era of IndyCar with the electric component in the engine.

It was the first time O’Ward was able to celebrate at the finish line, as his victory at St. Pete came after the elimination of both Team Penske cars. At Mid-Ohio, he did put on his mariachi hat and celebrated with his entire team at the finish line.

The podium was completed by the Penske of New Zealander Scott McLaughlin (third podium of the season for him). He was followed by the two Andrettis of Californian Colton Herta and Swede Marcus Ericsson.

“It was a very difficult race. Palou is very strong on hard tyres, we had to push the softs to the limit. I felt very comfortable with the car this weekend. We have a very strong car to fight for victory,” said O’Ward at the finish line in statements to NBC.

Despite not being able to win, Palou considers the result to be very positive, as it has made him even more of a difference in the championship standings. He was able to make a statement compared to his two main rivals: Australian Will Power (Penske), who finished eleventh; and his teammate, New Zealander Scott Dixon (Chip Ganassi), who had to retire due to mechanical problems with the hybrid system of his car.

Palou has 329 points with six more championship weekends remaining, with eight points-scoring events in total, including the doubleheaders at the Iowa and Milwaukee ovals. Power is second, 48 points behind, O’Ward jumps to third place, 70 points behind the leader, and Dixon falls to fourth, 71 points behind.

“I was only thinking about winning the race, I wasn’t thinking about the overall today. Tomorrow I’ll be happier when I think about that,” said Palou after finishing the race and securing his fourth podium of the year, the fifth if you count the victory in the exhibition, without points at stake, at The Thermal Club.

The start of the race was controlled at all times by Palou, who took advantage of his first starting position and left O’Ward and the rest of the pursuers more than three seconds behind in just a few laps.

A gap that only increased and when the Spaniard decided to visit the mechanics for the first time, on lap 29, he was already 16 seconds behind Herta, his closest pursuer.

With O’Ward consolidated in second place and also running at a very good pace, the only interest in the race became who would accompany the Spaniard and the Mexican on the podium. The battle was fought between McLaughlin, Herta and Josef Newgarden (Penske).

The Mexican began to go much faster and to get the most out of his McLaren. He successfully attempted an undercut in the second pit stop which, together with a delay in Palou’s stop, put him in the lead of the race.

A wonderful battle then began between the two drivers, with gaps never greater than a second and a half between them. The two cars entered the last ten laps with practically the same seconds of push to pass, which made the fight for the final victory even more interesting.

The lapped traffic brought Palou within half a second with six laps to go before the chequered flag. He tried to attack several times but was unsuccessful.

An off-track excursion by Argentine Agustín Canapino and his subsequent return to the track could have been a problem for the two leaders, who came across Juncos Hollinger and were forced to brake.

O’Ward held on to first place and achieved what had been denied to him for so many races due to problems with the car: a victory that means a lot to the Mexican.

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