Helio Castroneves says that his championship win in Saturday’s class Twelve Hours of Sebring was destiny, winning the championship despite suffering mechanical problems in the opening hour of the race.
Castroneves and Ricky Taylor won the DPi title after a frantic race, marking the first time in the Brazilian’s 23-year American racing career that he has won a championship.
He has taken three Indy 500 wins, but despite a decorated career in single seater racing, he finished as a runner-up in Indycar four times with Team Penske.
Castroneves and Taylor’s strong position in the fight for the title was seemingly dashed less than an hour into the race, when Taylor brought their #7 Acura ARX-05 into the pits with intercooler problems. The car spent roughly half an hour behind the wall, dropping the car far behind their rivals.
In the end, helped by some poor luck for title rivals Wayne Taylor Racing and Whelen Engineering, an eighth place finish for Castroneves, Taylor and Alexander Rossi was enough for the championship.
“In racing, anything is possible,” he said. “We started the season with no points on the board and all of a sudden we’re battling for the championship. Unfortunately, in this situation, it was completely outside of our hands. We literally were waiting for things to happen, and they did.”
The championship battle swung back in Team Penske’s favor when Scott Dixon collided with Oliver Jarvis. Dixon, driving the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-VR, had the car in prime position to win the title when Jarvis’ #77 Mazda RT24-P hit him up the inside after a badly timed dive up the inside from the Briton.
“I think there was no way he was going to make the corner,” Dixon said of the incident. “I kind of saw him coming and tried to give him enough without wrecking myself. I got off track a little bit in the hairpin and got dirty tires.”
The clash between the two cars damaged the Cadillac, which also required repairs. This gave Whelen Engineering a chance at the title, but after Pipo Derani clashed with Juan Pablo Montoya’s #6 Acura with under three hours remaining, it left the way clear for Castroneves and Taylor to claim the title.
“It was destiny,” Castroneves concluded. “I always say if it’s meant to be it will be, and I’m so glad it was our turn. You never give up. We never gave up.”