TORONTO, Ontario -- The concrete barriers around Toronto's 1.755-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit on the grounds of Exhibition Place are historically unforgiving, as hometown racer Robert Wickens ( ...
TORONTO, Ontario -- The concrete barriers around Toronto's 1.755-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit on the grounds of Exhibition Place are historically unforgiving, as hometown racer Robert Wickens (#3 Red Bull/INDECK Mazda-Cosworth/Cooper/Swift) discovered during today's first round of practice and qualifying for Sunday's Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto Atlantic Race. The 18-year old Toronto high-school student had wall contact in both sessions, costing him track time in the morning practice and a shot at pole in this afternoon's first round of Qualifying.
Teammate John Edwards (#7 Red Bull/INDECK Mazda-Cosworth/Cooper/Swift) of Little Rock, Arkansas, at 16-years old the youngest competitor in the 23-driver field, worked hard to overcome a challenge common on temporary circuits as concrete patches that mark several turns caused entry understeer which turned into snap oversteer as the front tires reached asphalt. Dialing in more front grip saw the Red Bull Junior Team standout gradually move up the order throughout the session.
"Our weekend started out kind of rough when I came flying around the blind Turn 1 just as Matt Lee spun and left me with no place to go. I smacked the wall pretty good and missed the last half of the morning session. It was really unlucky because we get so few laps to get the car handling right and half the morning session was wasted because of somebody else's mistake. But this afternoon we made a few shock and wing changes that were definite steps in the right direction. I was having the same problem as John; understeer on the concrete patches that turned into snap oversteer as soon as you hit the normal pavement, but the team was doing a good job getting the car more and more comfortable. Then we had a Red Flag come out with not much time left so I had to really push it on the last two laps. On my final lap my splits were looking good but I tried to attack Turn 6 a little too aggressively and just grazed the wall and bent the right suspension. Luckily we have another Qualifying tomorrow and the track should be even faster so we'll be looking to move up for sure."
"We made a nice change right there at the end of the session that helped the car a lot, but that Red Flag at the end didn't help us. I had just gone to new tires and they weren't quite up to pressure and temperature so a couple of drivers moved ahead of me. But we're headed in the right direction and there's more time in the car for sure. We'll go look at the data and compare my laps to Robbie's. It looks like I'm faster in some parts of the track and he's faster in others, so if we can just put the best parts together we should be able to move up!"
Final Qualifying for Sunday's Steelback Grand Prix of Toronto Atlantic Race gets underway at 2:35pm local/ET, 18:35 UTC.