Pippa Mann finishes an impressive 15th at Pocono Raceway

Suffolk's Pippa Mann at the 2013 Indy 500 race

Suffolk's Pippa Mann at the 2013 Indy 500 race - Credit: Archant

Suffolk racing driver Pippa Mann took a well-deserved 15th place finish in the Pocono IndyCar 400 fueled by Sunoco.

The 28-year-old – who grew up near Leiston before moving to America to further her career – has made great strides since she an 18-month absence from the sport through injury.

Although a crash and mechanical problems cut short her outings at Indianapolis and Texas, she showed enough race pace to earn another drive for Dale Coyne Racing and fully repaid their faith over the weekend.

The 400-mile race around the “Tricky Triangle” marked the first IndyCar appearance at the 2.5-mile tri-oval since 1989, and while many of the teams and drivers had tested at Pocono Raceway prior to the event, this was Mann’s debut at the track.

Despite never having driven the circuit prior to Thursday’s open test, Mann qualified the No.18 Dale Coyne Racing entry in 19th position for Sunday’s race – the IZOD IndyCar Series’ second leg of the Fuzzy’s Triple Crown. Once underway, it proved to be a challenging race with fuel mileage, traffic and the complexity of the track layout all coming into play as the race unfolded.

Speaking about her afternoon in the Cyclops Gear machine, Mann said: “I’m really pleased to have brought the No.18 car home for Dale Coyne Racing in 15th place today. I was so grateful to even have the opportunity to be here and back in a car this weekend, that I’m glad I get to repay the guys with a top 15 finish for their hard work. The guys not only did everything right all day long, but they’ve been a great team around me from the moment we got here.

“It was tough out there today. The track was changing all day, and not only the track but the line kept changing too. Then there was traffic. Once you get about four to five car lengths back from someone, it’s hard to close the gap and make the pass, even when they’re lapped traffic. In the end I didn’t have that many passes for position on track in the race, but I certainly felt like I was getting in knife fights with traffic a lap down on me. Then in the last couple of laps I went a lap down too, and all of a sudden I understood why it’s so hard to get around these guys, because I’m running my race the same as they were running theirs, and you just can’t back off until someone gets within a car length or two and is coming with the run, or you lose too much time. So I was on both sides of that fence today! In the last 10 laps we were also saving fuel like crazy, and when my fuel alarm came on with one to go I just tried to stay as low as possible, and I’m very relieved that we just managed to creep across the line still in 15th place.”

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The British driver added: “I also want to thank Honda this weekend. We changed the engine last night to their new specification engine, and it really helped me in traffic when I had to lift and come back to power. It’s so tough around this place in traffic so that really made a difference, and I’d like to congratulate them on a full podium lock out up front today, and their 200th win in IndyCar competition.”

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