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Paddock Postcard from Indianapolis 02 Jul 2006

Alex Lloyd (GBR) AFS Racing won the race. IRL Indy Racing Pro Series, Indianapolis, USA. 1-2 July 2006. World ©  Capilitan/Sutton

The Indianapolis Motor Speedway has seen several famous racing faces in its paddock. Former Indy 500 winner and Jaguar team principal Bobby Rahal has been cheering on 17 year-old son Graham as he made his Infinity Pro series debut.

Rahal started from pole, alongside British driver Alex Lloyd, whose gritty race performance was to make him the talk of the paddock on Saturday. As Rahal kept his lead at the start, Lloyd lost places to Wade Cunningham and Rafael Matos. He repassed Matos on lap five and put in the fastest lap as he slashed the gap to Cunningham, who then lost second place after sliding off on lap 14.

In the meantime Rahal had opened a 10-second lead until Scott Mansell’s retirement brought out the safety car, throwing Lloyd a lifeline. Lloyd grabbed it when the unlucky Rahal ran wide in Turn 1 on the restart, and hung on to beat the American by six-tenths of a second.

It was Lloyd’s first Pro series win and also his AFS Racing team’s, but what made his performance truly remarkable was that half an hour before the start he was on an intravenous drip in the medical centre.

“I don't know what happened, really,” said Lloyd. “It was just after the autograph session, I just came down with something. It was five past two, I was still on the drip, and I knew that the cars were going. I wasn't properly changed, didn't have my helmet. I was thinking I wasn't going to be able to get out, but without question I knew I was going to get in the car and give it a go.

“I spoke to IRL Ministry chaplain Bob Hills before the race, and he said, ‘You can barely speak, you can't race.’ But I got my helmet on and got in the car. It's like anything, you get the helmet on, get the engine going, and you forget about any problems you had. You're there to do a job. It's what I've been doing since I was nine years old. Doing the race wasn't an issue at all. You just drive through any problems you were having."

Elsewhere, Adrian Fernandez, Stefan Johansson, Ryan Briscoe, Sebastien Bourdais, Jimmy Vasser and team owner Carl Haas all made visits to the pit lane.