National Sports

Sweden's Ericsson takes first IndyCar victory with Detroit win

(AFP)

Sweden’s Marcus Ericsson won his first IndyCar race, capturing Saturday’s Detroit Grand Prix after leader Will Power’s engine failed before a restart in an event stopped twice by course-damaging crashes.

Ericsson held off Dutchman Rinus VeeKay for the victory, with Mexican pole-sitter Pato O’Ward third after 70 laps over a 2.35-mile, 14-turn temporary road course at Belle Isle Park in Detroit, Michigan.

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Ericsson, whose best prior IndyCar finish was second at Belle Isle in 2019, had not won in any format since 2013 in GP2, F1’s second-tier feeder series.

A crash by Frenchman Romain Grosjean caused a race stoppage with five laps remaining to remove the car and repair the track, setting up a late restart with Australian Power expecting to be in front.

But Power, who complained about the heat while forced to stay in the car, was unable to get his engine to refire when cars departed the pit lane, denying him a possible 40th career IndyCar win after leading for 37 laps.

That left Ericsson ahead when the green flag flew with three laps remaining. VeeKay and O’Ward passed Japan’s Takuma Sato for the final podium spots as the Swede sped away and hung on for the victory, having never led so late in three IndyCar seasons.

Ericsson’s victory means this season has matched an IndyCar record with seven different winners in the first seven races.

Swede Felix Rosenqvist crashed at the exit of turn six on lap 25 and, after three slow-speed laps, the race was halted for 78 minutes so the course could be repaired.

Rosenqvist was conscious, alert and stable with injuries that were not a threat to life or limb, according to race medical officials, but he complained of soreness and was taken to a nearby hospital for examination.

New Zealand’s Scott Dixon, a six-time IndyCar champion and three-time winner at Belle Isle, passed Power on lap 12 to take the lead just before he race was red-flagged, then pitted for fuel just before the restart.

Power, Ericsson and Sato led at the restart. Power made his final fuel stop on lap 48 and stayed ahead until the late stoppage.

It was the seventh of 16 races in the 2021 IndyCar campaign, which reaches the halfway mark in Sunday’s second event at Belle Isle.

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