Robert Wickens Claims His First Win for Red Bull Team Forsythe at Portland PORTLAND, Oregon -- Saturday, June 09, 2007 -- Andretti, Unser, Villeneuve, Fangio, Rahal, Rosberg, Tracy -- the Champ Car Atlantic Championship has a 34-year history of...
Robert Wickens Claims His First Win for Red Bull Team Forsythe at Portland
PORTLAND, Oregon -- Saturday, June 09, 2007 -- Andretti, Unser, Villeneuve, Fangio, Rahal, Rosberg, Tracy -- the Champ Car Atlantic Championship has a 34-year history of serving as the proving ground for some of the most famous names in all of racing. Today in Portland, 18-year old Robert Wickens of Toronto, Ontario joined the illustrious list of Atlantic winners as he etched his name in the record books with a dramatic win in difficult conditions in only his fourth Atlantic start.
Starting fifth on the 28-car grid in very wet conditions, Wickens lost all visibility at the start as a result of the cloud of spray from cars in front and found himself back in seventh after the first turn. Undeterred, the Canadian high school student immediately started picking off cars, moving to fifth by the end of the first lap before a full-course caution came out for multiple incidents on the rain-soaked track. On the Lap 4 restart Wickens moved into fourth, then to third on Lap 8 and second on Lap 9.
He then set out after leader James Hinchcliffe (who gave the Forsythe team its last win here in 2006 before moving to another team) who was enjoying a comfortable lead of almost five seconds. Running a half second a lap quicker than the leader, Wickens reeled him in over the next fifteen circuits and finally out-braked Hinchcliffe as they entered the Festival Curves on Lap 24. After that the young product of the Red Bull Junior Team pulled away to a ten-second lead and secured the first Atlantic victory of his career, claiming second in the season point standings.
Robert Wickens #3 Red Bull / INDECK
"I'm speechless! You come into a series this competitive with this many very experienced international drivers and you hope for good results but at the same time you realize the challenge is a big one. But I enjoy racing in the wet and the Red Bull team gave me a great car. I spent some time watching the Champ Cars in their wet practice this morning and saw Graham Rahal using a very tight line coming onto the front straight so I tried that early in the race and it seemed to work very well. I also had great brake balance so I was able to brake a little later than most of the other cars going into Turn 1 and I think those two things are what made it happen today. I'm really proud of my guys and this is a great way to bounce back from a tough weekend at the last race in Houston!"
16-year old teammate John Edwards of Little Rock, Arkansas had a difficult qualifying session on Friday that relegated the young driver to eighteenth on the grid. In an amazing recovery, Edwards charged past ten cars on the opening lap and found himself in 8th spot at the end of the first lap, but an off track excursion on the restart dropped him back to 16th. Despite the setback, the youngest driver in Atlantic history proceeded to pick off car after car and moved up to tenth spot by Lap 15 before contact with a slower car broke off his front wing and forced him to pit lane for repairs where he fell a lap down, eventually finishing 21st.
John Edwards #7 Red Bull / INDECK
"This has been a character-building weekend so far for sure. I got a good start and it seemed like people were whizzing off track all around me on that first lap! I couldn't believe it when they told me I was up to eighth. I had a problem when we came back from that caution and lost a bunch of spots, but the car was good and I was able to pick them off one at a time. Unfortunately I had some contact that knocked off my front wing so I had to pit, but I was having fun and the car was really good so I'm looking forward to the next race tomorrow -- my luck has got to change eventually!"