July 20, 2014 12:14 pm

Sebastien Bourdais wins first race at Honda Indy Toronto doubleheader

TORONTO – Sebastien Bourdais has won the first of two races at the Honda Indy Toronto.

Bourdais started from the pole to win the 11-turn, 2.81-kilometre race at Exhibition Place for the second time in his career after first taking the checkered flag in 2004.

The race also ended a six-year victory drought for Bourdais, who’s last win came in the now defunct Champ Car series in Mexico City.

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Helio Castroneves finished second to increase his overall points lead while Tony Kanaan was third.

Championship contender Will Power meanwhile moved up from last place to finish ninth.

James Hinchcliffe of Oakville, Ont., settled for eighth place, which matched his career best result at Toronto.

Both races were held Sunday after rain Saturday postponed the first race of a planned weekend doubleheader.

Starting order for the opening race was changed to reflect how cars were lined up in the pits Saturday when the event was postponed.

Ryan Briscoe, Juan Pablo Montoya and Power, who had qualified second, were the victims of the change as each were dropped to the back of the grid. Briscoe and Power hit the wall Saturday as cars tried to make it work on a wet track behind a pace car. Montoya meanwhile was later moved back after his car had an electrical issue.

When the race began on a mercifully dry track, there was mayhem before drivers completed a lap.

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Luca Filippi spun Simon Pagenaud, who’s car blocked the field and brought out another red flag. The collision also ended Takuma Sato’s day. His car had to be towed off the track.

Another 30 minutes passed before the race restarted. When it did, Bourdais opened a gap at the front while Ryan Hunter-Reay made a spectacular pass on Castroneves for second place.

Castroneves regained second with a pass of his own on Lap 33 and Kanaan followed suit to overtake Hunter-Reay. Hunter-Reay tried a pass five laps later on Kanaan but hit the wall and took damage to his front wing.

Bourdais meanwhile ran over debris from Hunter-Reay’s car, but the Frenchman’s luck held out and he suffered no damage en route to taking the checkered flag.

Notes: Both races were changed from 85 laps to 65 laps, or 80 minutes, to fit into the tight Sunday schedule. The afternoon race was scheduled to feature a standing start rather than the often-used rolling start. … Castroneves starts from the pole for the afternoon race followed by Power and Hunter-Reay.

© The Canadian Press, 2014

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