Opinion: Scott McLaughlin's Indycar gamble paid off

90 indycar st petersburg

We recap the thrilling Grand Prix of St Petersburg

It was a gutsy move by three-time Australian Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin when he switched last year to the Indycar Series in the US.

At the start of his second full season, the Kiwi’s gamble was vindicated with a near-perfect performance at the season opener on the streets of St Petersburg, Florida.

McLaughlin took pole position, then fended off a late challenge from reigning champion Álex Palou to claim his first victory in an open-wheel single-seater.

McLaughlin didn’t lead all the way, though, due to many in the lower half of the field trying an alternative three-stop strategy from the optimum two. The leaders pitted under the only caution period of the 100-lap race, but once the three-stoppers had cycled through their pit visits, McLaughlin was back in front with 21 laps to run.

Spaniard Palou had emerged from his second stop hard on McLaughlin’s tail but couldn’t quite pull a move to steal the win as the sophomore delivered another 2022 victory for Penske, just a week after Austin Cindric conquered Nascar’s Daytona 500 for America’s greatest racing team.

Motorsport Greats: Wayne Rainey

We divert into the two-wheeled world this week, and for good reason. Californian Wayne Rainey was well on his way to motorcycling immortality when he won three consecutive 500cc world titles for Yamaha between 1990 and 1992 – only to prove all too human when he was pitched off at the Italian Grand Prix at Misano in 1993.

He suffered permanent paralysis from the chest down – but showed his depth of spirit by returning as team manager of the Yamaha outfit with which he had won 24 grands prix. Now at 61, he remains a respected and well-loved figure in motorcycling.

So why are we featuring him? Because he’s coming to the UK to make his Goodwood Festival of Speed debut this year – and he will ride his 1992 title-winning YZR500 up the hill for the first time since his accident, thanks to Yamaha adapting the machine with specially fitted hand controls. There won’t be a dry eye.

Source: Autocar

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