Wickens Powers Canada to Durban Street Pole Durban, South Africa -- Robert Wickens led A1 Team Canada to its first ever pole position in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport as he claimed the top spot for Sunday's seventh round Sprint race ...
Wickens Powers Canada to Durban Street Pole
Durban, South Africa -- Robert Wickens led A1 Team Canada to its first ever pole position in the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport as he claimed the top spot for Sunday's seventh round Sprint race following a storming lap around Durban's challenging 3.28km temporary street circuit. The Toronto racer backed up his performance in South Africa with a second consecutive front-row start, claiming second on the Feature grid behind Switzerland's Neel Jani.
Saturday's qualifying accomplishment, with Robert becoming A1GP's youngest-ever pole-sitter, is all the more remarkable as he logged just four laps in Friday's official practice session, the 18-year-old's first sighting of the 11-turn Durban track. The team battled to fix an electrical issue following on from the morning's 'Rookie-Only' outing in which Markham's Daniel Morad debuted for Canada.
A red-flag ended the first Sprint qualifying session prematurely with just six of the 22 competing A1GP nations logging a lap time. Undeterred Canada hit the track with just one hot lap at its disposal. Wickens, no stranger to street courses in North America, subsequently blitzed the opposition to claim pole position -- the first pole for Canada in three seasons of A1GP but also the first for Status Grand Prix who, in addition to managing A1 Team Ireland, took over the running of the Canadian operation this season. Brazil's Bruno Junqueira joins the Canadian on the front-row of the Sprint grid.
Wickens then achieved another first claiming Canada's first-ever consecutive front-row starts. Just pipped to the Feature pole by Switzerland's Neel Jani, Robert will be attacking from second.
"We almost had the perfect qualifying session," said Wickens. "We got caught out in Q1 with the red flag which wasted a set of tires but I think we have a good car for tomorrow and we have an extremely good shot at winning the Sprint and Feature races. It's good to be clear for the first corner, there should be no-one I can run into from pole. I think the field's pretty responsible though, everyone knows how tight it is here. Overall I'm ecstatic with today's result. We've had our ups and downs but to get Canada's first ever pole position considering where we came from yesterday is a big deal!"
A1 Team Canada Team Manager Simon Cayzer commented, "Robert did an amazing job today! His ability to act calm under all sorts of different pressures is amazing. It was an incredible session and to score Canada's first pole is fantastic. This was a brand new team at the start of the season but we've kept chipping away. We're in a really good position for tomorrow's races, hopefully we can win!"
Sunday's 20-minute Sprint race starts at 11am local time (4am EST) with the 70-minute Feature race starting at 3pm in Durban (8am EST).