Robert Wickens -- Canada's Rookie Record Breaker Montreal, Canada -- Robert Wickens' performances for A1 Team Canada in the 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, put simply, have been nothing short of spectacular this season. The 18-year-old ...
Robert Wickens -- Canada's Rookie Record Breaker
Montreal, Canada -- Robert Wickens' performances for A1 Team Canada in the 2007-08 A1GP World Cup of Motorsport, put simply, have been nothing short of spectacular this season. The 18-year-old Toronto rookie, in just ten race starts, has set team records and more importantly returned Canada to the top step of the A1GP podium courtesy of a commanding Round 7 Sprint race victory in South Africa last weekend.
Already a race winner in Formula BMW USA, where he lifted the 2006 title, and in the Champ Car Atlantic Championship last season -- on his way to third overall in his rookie year, Wickens arrived in A1GP as only the fourth driver to represent Canada following starts by Vancouver's Sean McIntosh, Quebec's Patrick Carpentier and fellow Ontario-native James Hinchcliffe. Looking for similar successes in his new venture Robert made an immediate impression on his debut in Round 3 in Malaysia last November.
Qualifying fifth for his first-ever A1GP start was impressive enough, the fact that he ultimately claimed a third place podium finish on his debut was merely a sign of things to come for both team and driver! Two rounds later in New Zealand Wickens returned Canada to the Feature podium for the first time since McIntosh's Feature win in Indonesia in February 2006. Finishing a feisty second behind race winner Christian Vietoris from Germany, Robert was rapidly establishing himself as one of A1GP's leading rookies.
He duly cemented that reputation two weeks later in Australia in early February as he mastered tricky conditions at the Eastern Creek International Circuit to launch himself from a lowly 15th place grid slot through to third on the Sprint race podium -- Wickens now with more podium finishes than Sean McIntosh who previously held two top-three A1GP finishes, both achieved in the inaugural 2005-06 season.
Last weekend's seventh round in Durban, South Africa saw Robert score A1 Team Canada's first series pole position and in doing so he became the youngest ever pole winner in A1GP history. He subsequently scored a second straight front-row start lining up second to Switzerland's Neel Jani in the Feature race. Wickens capitalized on his Sprint race pole, turning in another stellar performance to capture his first A1GP victory and Canada's first race win in two years!
Robert's statistics make for interesting reading. Despite making just ten A1GP race starts, he now lies one point behind Sean McIntosh in terms of the most points scored in team history (53-52) -- a fact all the more impressive given McIntosh wracked up a total of 24 race starts over the first two A1GP seasons from 2005 to 2007. Victory in South Africa means that Wickens currently has four podium finishes to his credit with McIntosh holding two from the inaugural A1GP season and James Hinchcliffe with one to his name from last year's A1GP competition.
While the individual drivers points tally might look slightly different had points been awarded last season in the Sprint race from first to tenth instead of first to sixth, Robert's accomplishments as a series rookie are no less impressive, especially when taking into consideration the fact that he's competing against drivers with greater experience in A1GP but also seat time in the likes of F1, Champ Cars and GP2 -- all substantially more powerful machinery than Robert's graduation from the 300bhp Atlantic racer to the 550bhp A1GP car.
With the likes of Germany's Nico Hulkenberg propelled into a Formula One test driver role this year off the back of his successes in A1GP last season, the future looks exceptionally bright for Canada's Robert Wickens as he continues to shine and showcase his credentials before the international motorsport community.