SANTA MONICA, Calif., April 16, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Katherine Legge, driver of the No. 6 TrueCar Lotus Dallara DW12 had a difficult race at the IZOD IndyCar Series Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach today – the British racer, driving under TrueCar's "Women Empowered" initiative, encountered debris on the track and also struggled with engine issues which ultimately left her with a 19th place finish. Legge finished 23rd in the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama two weeks ago, but today's finish does not raise her position in the point standings.
"Today was really disappointing because we had a number of issues," said Legge. "So, I really don't know what to say. The issues started from the beginning – we had some sort of problem right out of the box with the engine management. Then we ran over some debris on track, which ended up costing us a front wing. So, it just wasn't the day we wanted."
Legge started the race from the 13th row on the grid; with the team having changed the engine the night before, Legge was penalized 10 places on the starting grid. Her race was relatively calm until the 22nd lap, when drivers Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal made contact and spread debris across the track near turn eight. Legge was unable to avoid some of the debris and after running over a stray part, ended up colliding with the tire wall in turn nine. The Dragon Racing mechanics had to replace the front wing of the car and the incident cost her five laps. The 85-lap, 167.3-mile race was won by Will Power – his second victory in a row – which puts him in the lead in the point standings.
Despite changing the engine, the team still had engine management issues as the race car did not run optimally at all times. Legge's car also had problems with the mechanism that allows the car to be started, so it had to be push-started by the team after the wing was repaired.
"The RPMs were dropping as I took off and I couldn't pull out of the box," explained Legge. "Then they couldn't restart the car. One of the problems we cleared up by changing the (engine) map so then it wasn't hitting the hard limiter due to over-boost. Our guys got that fixed but the engine still hesitated at times.
"We had a good car on the Firestone red tires; we struggled a bit on the blacks but the reason we were losing so much time more than anything, was just the drivability of the engine. It was sporadic. Sometimes it would be clear and sometimes it would be coughing and spluttering. Lotus and Judd are aware of this – I think we weren't the only car with this problem – and they are very focused on working hard to get it fixed. I have every faith that they will get this resolved soon."
Her finish is not at all one Legge had hoped for; the 11-turn temporary street circuit is one that she had considerable success at in the past. It was here that she became the first woman to win a major open-wheel race in North America, in the Toyota Atlantic Championship in 2005.
Legge's TrueCar Racing teammates, while not competing, were on-hand to watch the race and support Legge. Ashley Freiberg, Verena Mei, Shannon McIntosh, Shea Holbrook, Emilee Tominovich and Legge will all have the next weekend off until TrueCar Racing hits the track again at the end of April. Legge will compete in the next IZOD IndyCar Series event on Sunday, April 29th, at the Sao Paulo Indy 300. Shea Holbrook will drives in the Touring Car class of the Pirelli World Challenge at Miller Motorsports Park in Tooele, Utah during the weekend of April 27-29.
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