IndyCar: Mayor of Indianapolis injured after being hit by debris that left driver James Hinchcliffe hospitalised during inaugural Indy road race

The first ever IndyCar Series race on Indianapolis' road course was won by Frenchman Simon Pagenaud, but marred by an incident that saw Hinchcliffe hit in the head by debris

France's Simon Pagenaud won an incident-strewn Grand Prix of Indianapolis on Sunday which started with a crash and saw James Hinchliffe and the mayor of the city injured by flying debris.

In the first IndyCar Series race on the famous circuit's road course rather than just the oval, Pagenaud won by stretching his fuel the final 29 laps. 

The Frenchman took the lead when Oriol Servia had to stop for fuel with four laps remaining. Pagenaud managed to make it to the finish for his third series victory despite having to keep an eye on both his mirrors and his fuel gauge. 

Ryan Hunter-Reay was second and Helio Castroneves third on his 39th birthday. 

"The fuel saving was amazing," Pagenaud said. "It was nerve-wracking. I was worried about RHR coming back, and I didn't know what Helio was doing here. I don't like racing off throttle."

Sebastien Bourdais and Charlie Kimball rounded out the top five. 

Hinchcliffe was taken from the track on a stretcher and transported to a hospital, where he was diagnosed with a concussion after he was hit in the head with debris. A replay appeared to show debris from a car in front of him flew into his cockpit following a restart. 

IndyCar said he'll have to be re-evaluated before he's cleared again to drive. Preparations begin Sunday for the Indianapolis 500, with qualifying scheduled to begin next Saturday for the May 25 race. 

IndyCar policy in the past has been to keep concussed drivers out for at least seven days. 

Andretti Autosport said EJ Viso will be the standby driver for Hinchcliffe. 

"I'm a little stiff and sore and I'd love to be back in the car tomorrow, but I suppose I should probably let the doctors make that decision," Hinchcliffe said in a statement. 

Hunter-Reay said he drove by Hinchcliffe's car and couldn't figure out what happened. 

"I was actually next to him on track and all of a sudden debris went everywhere and he slowed up," Hunter-Reay said about his teammate. "It was something that happened in front of him and he was hit." 

The race began with a violent crash when pole-sitter Sebastian Saavedra stalled on the standing start. He was hit by multiple cars, and debris struck Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard as he waved the green flag. 

Saavedra's car simply didn't go when the lights went out and, after Hunter-Reay frantically darted around him, Saavedra was clipped by Carlos Munoz and then hit hard from behind by Mikhail Aleshin. 

"We just followed protocol at the start," Saavedra said. "As soon as I released the clutch, it went from 11,000 rpm to zero. This should not have happened, unfortunately." 

Aleshin's direct hit sprayed debris all over the track, sending spectators and track workers standing along the wall scrambling for cover. Saavedra was seen in his cockpit with his arms in the air anticipating a potential collision as cars tried to weave their way around his stalled KV Racing car. He had won the first pole of his career — in part because Hunter-Reay had his two fastest laps disallowed for causing a caution in Friday's qualifying — and was looking for a strong finish at the famed race track. 

"Man, we had an opportunity to be at the front of the pack in this amazing place. We wanted to bring it home in the same place," he said. "To not even get a chance because of a freaking electrical thing ..." 

It had many drivers complaining about the standing starts, which have been problematic since IndyCar began using them at some tracks last season. The incident damaged several cars one day before teams begin practice for the May 25 Indianapolis 500. 

"IndyCar has had like two good standing starts since we started them last year," said driver/owner Ed Carpenter, who saw Mike Conway have to take his car to the garage for repairs after the accident. "Haven't been a fan, still not a fan." 

Drivers also grumbled about the way race control was restarting the races, with the leader having to use a late restart zone. Graham Rahal said he was victimized when he was run into from behind by Juan Pablo Montoya. 

"These restarts are pretty stupid. You can't see back there because the rear wings are so big, and the officials, we need to work with them to try to change this because there's going to be a lot of accidents," Rahal said. "I said the restart before, I said to my dad, 'Somebody's going to get hurt out here because you can't see.' 

"They need to let the leader go earlier. Right now, the way it is, they're trying to be like NASACAR and this isn't NASCAR. We can't just bump-draft each other."

AP

News
news
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
New Articles
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all