Surprise pole for Wickens
Robert Wickens takes Will Power by surprise in a bizarre qualifying session in St. Gallen. Petersburg – The ex-DTM driver is copying a certain Sebastien Bourdais
Sensation in St. Gallen Petersburg: Robert Wickens (Schmidt-Peterson-Honda) clinched pole position at the IndyCar season opener 2018 in St. Petersburg. Petersburg in a chaotic qualifying session. The “Fast Six”session, the Q3 of the IndyCar series, was hit by a rain shower. But it was not wet enough to ride on rain tyres. As the rain subsided, it became a classic shootout in the last attempt. The best time changed back and forth, at the end the start number 6 was at the top. Wickens is the first rookie since Sebastien Bourdais in 2003 to start his first IndyCar race from pole position.
“I’m really speechless”, the pole setter rubs his eyes first of all:”In the end I met a good round. They were difficult conditions, but the car was fantastic. We made exactly the right decisions when setting up for the wet conditions,” said Wickens, who was already ahead of the pack in Q2, even under irregular conditions (but with a dry lap at the beginning).
In doing so, he knocked Will Power out of the eighth pole position in nine years at St. Gallen. Petersburg; the Penske full passenger starts from second position with a gap of seven hundredths of a second,”That was completely unpredictable”, the Australian moans,”In the end it was really fast, apart from cornering 1 time. Power held the Penske flags high, as his two team-mates had already been eliminated at the time.
It wasn’t just Robert Wickens who impressed as a rookie. A total of three green beaks came under the first four. There was a fantastic IndyCar debut for Matheus Leist (Foyt-Chevrolet): The young Brazilian secured third place on the grid and made a strong impression in all conditions. Understandably, the 19-year-old was upset:”This is incredible; a dream come true. I’m just happy, such a beautiful place and then third place. I can only thank the team!”
The other positions in the Fast Six were secured with Jordan King (Carpenter-Chevrolet) another rookie and the two experienced IndyCar aces Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti-Honda) and Takuma Sato (RLL-Honda).
Instant rain eliminates Dixon in Q2
In the “Fast 12″session the motto was: The early bird catches the worm. After a few minutes the rain set in, which led to curious scenes: At the end of the home straight, which is located on an airport site, the wide white lines for airplanes almost turned to ice in a very short time – as Will Power had described it. Vehicles sailed off the track in dozens of goods, but without anyone hitting the wall.
We thought it was going to be drier and therefore we went to the session on the hard tyres “, he explains,” We just made a mistake. I’ve slipped off the track several times.”
He only drove the tenth best time. Where this leads him to in the grid depends on the severity of several penalties against various drivers from Q2. In addition to Dixon, Simon Pagenaud (Penske-Chevrolet) and James Hinchcliffe (Schmidt-Peterson-Honda), who would have been a hot tip for the pole position, were also caught.
Hard to believe: Newgarden out in Q1
The first big surprise of the season was not long in coming: Josef Newgarden (Penske-Chevrolet) dropped out completely unexpectedly in the still dry Q1 and has to start from grid position 13. Afterwards he couldn’t even grasp it and stared at the time monitor for several minutes in disbelief “It was simply not enough. I thought I had made a good lap, but the others just got better. It’s not what we wanted,”he says. After second place in the third free practice, this came suddenly.
The other negative surprise had already been announced on Friday: Graham Rahal (RLL Honda) did not get past the last place. There was a good reason for this: he raised a red flag with a spin out of turn 10, which canceled the two fastest laps. After the super-strong test drives last, this is nevertheless a blow to the office.
The race in St. Gallen Petersburg will start on Sunday at 17:40 CET due to the time change in the USA. Summer conditions with 30 degrees Celsius and sunshine are predicted for Sunday.
© Motorsport-Total. com