Team Canada's Wickens shines in Euro adventures

A1 Team Canada's latest rookie recruit, Toronto's Robert Wickens, followed up an impressive A1GP event debut earlier in October in the Czech Republic, where he topped the timesheets in the second rookie-only session, with trips to Portugal and...

A1 Team Canada's latest rookie recruit, Toronto's Robert Wickens, followed up an impressive A1GP event debut earlier in October in the Czech Republic, where he topped the timesheets in the second rookie-only session, with trips to Portugal and Spain competing in the final two rounds of the World Series by Renault.

The 18-year-old's European travels kicked off with A1 Team Canada at the Brno Auto Motodrom in the Czech Republic, the second round of the 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport. Wickens wasn't about to let his inexperience behind the wheel of the 550bhp A1GP car or his lack of track knowledge get in the way of his first outing for the Canadian team since a one-off pre-season test at Silverstone in August.

The 2006 Formula BMW USA Champion wasted little time in getting up to speed and in the second 25-minute session for rookie drivers the Canadian captured P1 before handing over qualifying and race duties to sophomore driver James Hinchcliffe. Buoyed by a sterling performance in Brno, Wickens headed to Portugal and the Estoril circuit, former home of the Portuguese Grand Prix, to make his debut in the World Series by Renault driving the Red Bull-backed #8 Carlin Motorsport entry.

Following in the footsteps of fellow A1 Team Canada alum, Vancouver's Sean McIntosh -- who finished sixth overall in the 2006 World Series by Renault, Robert proudly flew the maple leaf flag in the category that's produced a host of next generation F1 talent including Poland's Robert Kubica (BMW), Finland's Heikki Kovalainen (Renault) and Germany's Sebastian Vettel (Toro Rosso).

Scoring a 12th place finish in the first of the weekend's double-header races, having started 18th due to a flat-spotted tire in qualifying, Wickens backed that up with a 10th place finish in Race 2 to score a point on his debut weekend -- a goal he'd earlier set himself. With a race weekend under his belt Wickens headed to Spain's Circuit de Catalunya outside Barcelona the following weekend for the season finale at the end of October.

Showcasing his confidence behind the wheel of the Dallara-Renault, Wickens captured sixth on the grid and duly scored more points with a seventh place finish at the flag. The second race saw him start fourth thanks to the inverted top-ten used by the World Series by Renault and a podium finish was the target. A great start was quickly eradicated by a spin caused by contact from behind - Robert able to get back on track but stuck down in 18th. A solid recovery drive saw Wickens just miss out on the points with an 11th place finish, his lap times as he stormed the field the equal of the race leaders.

"It was pretty satisfying to score points in both Portugal and Spain," Wickens reflected on his first career starts in the World Series by Renault. "I knew that I had the pace to get a podium in the second race in Spain so it was a bit of a bummer that I was taken out at the first corner but overall both events were good experiences for me."

On the differences between the A1GP and World Series race cars Robert stated, "Well they're both quite different. The A1GP car's fun to drive as you're sliding it around and working on the balance whereas the World Series car has phenomenal grip in comparison. The two are complete opposites to drive but I had a blast in both cars. I thoroughly enjoyed my debut with A1 Team Canada earlier in October and I hope my efforts in the rookie session helped the team. We might not always get to go P1 in every session but as long as we're improving our competitiveness that's what counts!"

Round 3 of the 2007-08 A1GP season is hosted at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia, Friday 23rd -- Sunday 25th November --

-credit: a1teamcan.com

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About this article
Series A1GP
Drivers Sean McIntosh , Robert Kubica , Sebastian Vettel , Robert Wickens , James Hinchcliffe
Teams Toro Rosso , Carlin

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