Wickens Takes Round 3 Win
Lakeville, Conn. - May 27, 2006-- Although the grid for Round 3 of the Formula BMW USA championship at Lime Rock Park was set according to the rules and based on the points standings after the cancellation of qualifying, the 25-lap race was anything but textbook.
Junior driver Robert Wickens (Team Apex Racing USA) scored his first victory of the 2006 season, finishing ahead of a relentless Simona de Silvestro (EuroInternational) after a many-lap battle. Reed Stevens (HBR Motorsport Team USA) finished third after starting from the outside of the front row. The race ended behind the safety car following the race's second caution period, prematurely ending the most exciting race of the season to-date.
After overcast skies gave way to bright sun, 26 starters made a clean standing start. By lap five, it was polesitter Daniel Morad (AIM Autosport), Wickens, from the sixth starting position, and Stevens in the top-three spots. De Silvestro, starting from 10th, passed Stevens on lap seven and set her focus on Wickens. She passed Wickens on lap 10, but slid off course, falling back to sixth, as Morad set the race's fastest lap (53.225 seconds). The race went yellow after contact caused the No. 9 of Yannick Hofman (HBR Motorsport Team USA) to roll in turn 1. He was unhurt and the race went green three laps later. De Silvestro moved up to second on lap 17. One lap later Morad spun coming onto the front straight and Sebastian Saavedra (Gelles Racing), in the move of the race, went to grass and pit-in to avoid him. The race continued with Wickens, de Silvestro and Stevens at the front until the second yellow of the race on lap 22 after Morad went off the track due to a mechanical failure resulting in an exciting race finishing behind the safety car.
Saavedra came to the checkered flag fourth for his best finish of the year. Another notable drive was given by Matt Lee (Team Autotecnica) who finished a season's- best seventh after starting 23rd.
Wickens said, "My team gave me a great car. I was able to go from sixth to forth on the start. I had a very fast car and I didn't want to crash out of the race. So I was just patient waiting for the right opportunity and when it came I go for it. And the next thing I know I was in the lead and I was able to get quite a bit of a lead. Simona was very fast, I saw her catching me a little bit. I had to pick up the pace again and I was able to keep the gap until the end of the race." He added, "Without the yellow flag at the end, the race would have been even much more exciting. I think that I still would have won the race."
De Silvestro said, "I had a great car. After a bad start I was on 13th, but I wanted to make points to be able to win the championship at the end of the year. I pushed really hard and was able to come on second. In the last lap before the yellow flag came out, I was very close to Robert. I had a lot of speed, but then the safety car came out and I couldn't pass him. Tomorrow I am going to start from second and I am sure I can make it on the podium again."
Stevens said, "I had a really good start and I pushed as hard as I could in the beginning. Unfortunately, the other drivers were pretty quick. The car was not quite as good as I like to have it but, considering that it was completely crashed in the morning and we just put it together, to come on third is not bad. I just focused on driving cleanly and as consistently as possible and I was able to finish pretty well."
Round 4 of the 2006 Formula BMW USA championship is scheduled to start at 1:15 p.m. Monday, May 29.