ORIOL SERVIA STORMS TO FRONT BEFORE PENALTY PUTS PANTHER IN 12TH-PLACE IN BALTIMORE GRAND PRIX
National Guard Panther Racing Driver Gets ‘Avoidable Contact’ Penalty After Contact with Bourdais
BALTIMORE, Maryland (September 1, 2013) – National Guard Panther Racing driver Oriol Servia stormed from 15th to within sight of a podium finish Sunday during the Grand Prix of Baltimore, but a late penalty on the veteran driver left the team with a 12th-place finish. Servia, making his fourth start in the team’s No. 4 National Guard Chevrolet, was tagged with a black flag for ‘avoidable contact’ following contact with Sebastian Bourdais during a restart on Lap 56.
It took just 10 laps for Servia to move within the Top Ten, and the Spaniard continued his climb as the race progressed. He passed Tony Kanaan to move into ninth on Lap 11 and was able to overtake Tristian Vautier on Lap 12 for eighth position, just before the first caution flag of the race came out. After cars shuffled around following the restart, Servia again passed Kanaan – this time to climb to sixth position – just prior to the team’s first pit stop of the day on Lap 28.
“I’m super happy with all the work done by the team, as a one-car team these guys put together one of the strongest cars out there today,” Servia said. “I said yesterday that the National Guard Chevy felt great and we even improved it from there. We basically drove through the field at the start of the race, and legitimately went from 15th to third. We were passing cars all over the place and we had a legit shot and winning the race, which is all you can ask for.”
Following the team’s stop, Servia was able to continue to move up the grid as multiple fuel strategies came into play. He passed eventual-winner Simon Pagenaud (Lap 34), Charlie Kimball (Lap 35) and Marco Andretti (Lap 37) to reach seventh again before another caution flag came out on Lap 41. Servia continued to gain positions throughout a myriad of caution flags and a series of bottleneck crashes following each restart.
Despite moving up to third, Servia became part of the carnage after a restart on Lap 56 when he made contact with the back of Bourdais’ No. 7 entry, sending the Frenchman spinning and Oriol into the tire barrier.
“During that long yellow it was hard to keep the tires warm because our brakes were getting so hot,” Oriol explained. “So when we went into the restart I didn’t try to brake too late and I wasn’t trying to pass the first two guys. I had actually planned to try to pass Sebastian in Turn Three, not in (Turn) One, and when I went into the first corner I couldn’t slow down. I was still going to make the corner but Sebastian continued like nobody was there, and unfortunately I touched him. I am sorry because we both had a chance at winning and that ruined both our chances.”
IndyCar officials issued Servia a penalty for ‘avoidable contact’ for the incident, which sent the No. 4 car even further in back of the grid. Having already lost laps while waiting to get the National Guard car restarted following the incident, the team was able to climb no higher than 12th position at the finish.
“But I think this shows how hard the Panther team has been working,” Servia continued. “I’m super excited for Houston – which is a racetrack that’s not too different from Baltimore; we have two chances there and hopefully we can do well.”
At the end of the 75-lap event, Pagenaud captured his second IndyCar Series victory and was joined on the podium by Josef Newgarden (2nd) and Bourdais (3rd).
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