Suffolk’s Pippa Mann enjoys her best Indy500 finish as Fernando Alonso suffers engine failure
- Credit: Archant
Suffolk racing driver Pippa Mann enjoyed her best ever finish of 17th at an eventful Indy500 today.
The 33-year-old – who grew up near Leiston and lived in Ipswich for a spell – started 28th in a field of 33, but she profited from two big crashes in what was her sixth outing in the iconic American race which is watched by millions.
Dubbed ‘The Greatest Spectacle in Racing’, more than 250,000 spectators watch cars average speeds in excess of 230mph around 500 laps of the oval track in Indianpolis. There was added global interest this year as two-times Formula One champion Fernando Alonso decided to race here instead of representing McLaren at the Monaco Grand Prix.
Once again representing Dayle Coyne Racing in her striking pink and white car, Mann – who has raised more than $100,000 for breast cancer charities – could be heard telling her pit crew over the radio at the end: “Sorry we had such a messy day. Thank you all so much for your hard work.”
Meanwhile, Alonso was forced to retire on lap 175, ironically after a Honda engine failed him as it has so many times in F1, but his performance earned him a great deal of respect.
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He had been contending for victory throughout, had the highest average lap speed in the race and had just pulled a beautiful outside pass around Turn One on Brazilian veteran Tony Kanaan to take sixth place as the race entered its closing laps.
He said: “I felt the noise and the engine friction so I backed off. It’s a shame because I felt we deserved to finish and experience the last lap – who knows where we could have finished.
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“The whole thing has been a nice experience. The racing was fun and I am glad to been here with the best racers in the business.
“It’s early (to decide if he comes back) but I feel competitive and if I come back I will feel like I know what to expect so will use that next time.
“Thanks to Indycar because this has been one of the best experiences of my career.”
It was 40-year-old ex-F1 driver Takuma Sato who won the race. The Japanese driver started 90 races during his time at BAR, Jordan and Super Aguri but only claimed one podium finish.