Wickens Wins Wet Round 12 pole
Denver, Colo. - Aug. 13, 2005-- With yesterday's warm and cloudy conditions giving way to this morning's rain and Rocky Mountain chill, 16-year old Robert Wickens (Team Apex Racing USA) scored his first Formula BMW USA pole position in today's Round 12 qualifying session. In the season's first qualifying session held under rainy skies Wickens traded fastest lap with Round 11 polesitter Richard Philippe (Team Autotecnica) throughout the session. He eventually secured the pole on lap nine with a time of 1:26.352 minutes around the 1.657-mile Grand Prix of Denver street circuit. Philippe will start outside Wickens (1:26.411) for his ninth front row start (five poles) of the year. Doug Boyer (Jensen MotorSport), only twice before this season a top-10 starter rounded out the top-three (1:26.588) for his best-ever qualifying effort.
Like yesterday's Round 11 qualifying session, today was marked by two stoppages for incidents. Race Johnson (HBR Motorsport Team USA) found the tires barrier in turn 1 on lap five causing a red flag, interrupting the session and bringing all cars back into the pits. The second red flag was caused by HBR teammate Tom Sutherland when he hit the wall, ending the session on the 12th lap.
Overall points leader Kevin Lacroix (AIM Autosport) continued to struggle, qualifying a season-low ninth. Matthew Lee (Twintooth/BRM Motorsport) equalled his Round 11 effort, qualifying sixth for his season's-best starting positions.
With only one point separating Lacroix and Philippe in the Overall points and two points between Philippe and Lacroix in Rookie points both Rounds 11 and 12 may well prove to be the tipping point in these young men's race for the 2005 Formula BMW USA Championship.
"I love the rain," said Wickens. "Richard and I raced against each other several times in the wet in karting. It felt the same today - always back and forth, back and forth. I had to go faster and faster. My team did a great job and my car was great. I pushed hard, but kept it smooth."
Philippe said, "Everything was good and it was back and forth between Robert and me. On my fast lap I had some traffic. I had to go with it, so I became second, not first. Whether it is dry or wet, we showed that we are the quickest."
Boyer added, "I am ecstatic that I qualified so well. I am really looking forward to the race tomorrow especially because I am able to start up front. I think it will be a big plus, especially if it rains. At this track it is very difficult to see even if you are following only one car. "
The quickest Rookies in Round 12 qualifying were Wickens (P1), Philippe (P2), Boyer (P3), Edoardo Piscopo (P4) and Matthew Lee (P6).
The Round 11 race is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. MT. Sunday's Round 12 race is scheduled to start at 10:15 a.m. MT.