Scott Dixon fifth in IndyCar opener at St Pete

FRED WOODCOCK
Last updated 08:30 25/03/2013

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New Zealand IndyCars driver Scott Dixon has completed an excellent damage limitation job at the season-opening Grand Prix of St Petersburg in Florida today (NZT).

Starting from 20th on the grid, Dixon methodically worked his way up the field in a race continually punctuated by yellow flags.

With about 30 of the 110 laps on the street circuit remaining, he had positioned himself nicely in fourth and looked ready to mount a challenge in the final stages. But he dropped back to sixth and couldn't improve on that, until the final tilt for the line when he edged Swiss Simona de Silvestro to clinch fifth place and complete a tidy day's work.

Canadian James Hinchcliffe, 26, claimed his first victory, beating Brazilian Helio Castroneves by about a second. There was a 16-second gap back to the bunch and it appeared Silvestro would secure third, but she faded in the final couple of laps, allowing Marco Andretti, Tony Kanaan and then Dixon, right on the line, to get past her.

Dixon had failed to progress from the first qualifying phase after his run compromised by some track signage left in the middle of the circuit after James Jakes glanced the wall, which led to which led to him starting in 20th of 25 positions on the grid.

Meanwhile, the New Zealander's Target Chip Ganassi teammate, Dario Franchitti, had an opening round to forget. Starting from 10th position, the Scot hit a wall on the 20th lap and the four-time champion had to retire, credited with 25th and last place.

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