|Ed Carpenter Racing's British driver Mike Conway (Front) celebrates victory during the award ceremony of the race two of the 2014 Honda Indy Toronto of IndyCar Series race in Toronto, Canada, July 20, 2014. Ed Carpenter Racing's British driver Mike Conway won the race two title of the 2014 Honda Indy Toronto on Sunday. (Xinhua/Zou Zheng)
By Phoebe Ho, Yan Zhonghua
TORONTO, July 20 (Xinhua) -- A flash of rain and a swift decision led Englishman Mike Conway to victory at the Honda Indy Toronto's second race on Sunday, putting an end to what's been a weekend filled with frustration, spinouts, collisions and drama.
The road and street course specialist earned his fourth career win and second win of the year thanks to an early decision on his part to head to the pits for dry, slick tires.
"The track conditions, I could see it was drying in places," he said in a press conference. "I knew how humid it was and the temperature, it was going to dry pretty quick after that point."
"I knew I had to make a call at that moment 'cause my wet tires are kind of going off and we're only going to go slower and I knew the slicks would for sure be quicker," he explained. "So yeah, it worked out, worked out really well."
When some of the leading racers finally decided to head to the pit nearly two laps later to switch up their tires when things started drying up even more, Conway grabbed the opportunity to gain a lead on them late into the race on the 11-turn, 2.81-kilometer street course. A collision with less than five minutes to go had cars returning to pit lane under a red flag. But even after the race resumed, Conway kept up his lead and raced to the finish line.
While the rain actually worked in Conway's favor this time, that wasn't the case for many other drivers. Canadian James Hinchcliffe, Juan Pablo Montoya and Mikhail Aleshin's chances of winning the race were effectively ruined after they collided on the slippery tracks.
The inclement weather brought persistent rain to the city on Saturday leading to multiple hour-long delays in the opening race - which was ultimately postponed after a couple of accidents which include the pace car spinning out on the track.
Honda Indy Toronto president Charlie Johnstone said the hazardous conditions just didn't allow them to continue on as scheduled.
"What was happening is it was enough rain to pull up the oil out of the roadway but not enough to wash it away, so the road was really, really slick," he said.
After the first Honda Indy race was rained out on Saturday -a first in Toronto's history- officials scheduled a back-to-back race on Sunday which would cut each race from 85 laps down to 65, and two hours to 80 minutes to compensate for the delay.
Johnstone said they wanted to make the most out of the weekend.
"To ask them to basically run the equivalent of a marathon and then run another marathon the next day is a little much," he said. "To ask them to race three quarters of a marathon and another three quarters of a marathon is a little more manageable, so it's going to be a tough day on the teams, the drivers and the equipment."
It turned out to be a good call, at least for the opening race on Sunday which saw near perfect conditions on the track.
Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais claimed his first victory in six years in Race 1 with clear skies and nothing in his way.
The second race of the day started out with ominous looking clouds hovering in the skies, but the rain didn't start falling until well into Lap 12.
From that point, everything was up in the air. Drivers were noticeably much more cautious on the tracks, opting to play it safe rather than tread onto the visible wet patches to overtake their competition. But that didn't stop a number of yellow flags and collisions from happening.
Will Power, who finished third in Race 2, said that with just four races left in the series, he had to make a decision.
"You could take a big risk and maybe win the race or you can be smart and finish third, you know, just got to be smart about it," he said.
Tony Kanaan, who came in third in the opening race and second in the last race, says he tried to hold it together and keep his eyes on the goal in spite of the stressful circumstances.
"It was a tough day for all of us but we had to do what we had to do, it was a very unusual situation," he said. "The rain helped a lot so we really don't make a lot of effort in the rain physically, it's just more mental and try not to make a mistake on concentration."
But the unpredictable conditions are nothing new for IndyCar racers.
"We always get surprised, this is IndyCar," said Power. "That's what good for the fans, the element of surprise. Who knows what's going to happen?"
Originally known as the Molson Indy Toronto, the race was a Champ Car World Series race held annually from 1986 to 2007 and has been renamed from 2009 onward as the Honda Indy Toronto. Located at the Exhibition Place, it is now IndyCar's second-longest running street race, only behind the Grand Prix of Long Beach, California.
The Toronto Indy is one of seven Canadian circuits to have held an Indy/Champ Car race, the others being Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Mont-Tremblant, Sanair, Montreal, Vancouver, and Edmonton.