WESTBROOK TAKES FIRST PORSCHE RACE FROM POLE AT USGP Wickens wins first Formula BMW USA race INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, July 1, 2006 -- Richard Westbrook dominated the first Porsche Michelin Supercup series race of the 2006 United States Grand Prix...
WESTBROOK TAKES FIRST PORSCHE RACE FROM POLE AT USGP
Wickens wins first Formula BMW USA race
INDIANAPOLIS, Saturday, July 1, 2006 -- Richard Westbrook dominated the first Porsche Michelin Supercup series race of the 2006 United States Grand Prix weekend, winning from the pole and beating second-place finisher Uwe Alzen to the finish line.
Kelvin Burt, driving the No. 15 MRS-PC Service Team entry, finished an impressive third despite starting 16th.
Robert Wickens won the first Formula BMW USA race of the weekend.
Westbrook, from London, either maintained or increased his lead in every lap of the 16-lap race, beating Alzen by 7.432 seconds in the No. 17 Racing Team Morellato PZ Essen entry. Alzen drives the No. 5 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car for PZ Koblenz -- Team SPS. The race average speed was 85.637 mph.
Westbrook entered the two round of competition this weekend at the 2.605-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course with the lead in the series championship. Today's domination extends his lead, and he carries additional momentum into Sunday's second race by starting on pole.
"I was in control of the race, but then everyone started knocking each other off, and I couldn't believe my luck," Westbrook said. "I wish they were all that easy. The win gives me some confidence going into tomorrow. We're leading the championship. We've got a big points advantage now, so confidence is flying high, but I'm sure it won't be that easy. It's a dream coming out here. It's so different than what we're used to in Europe and it's just such a lovely atmosphere here. It's all the more special to win it."
Westbrook won the pole for the race by .147 of a second over arch-rival David Saelens of Belgium, who dominated both rounds of Porsche competition at the 2005 United States Grand Prix, winning both poles and both races.
Saelens started second and ran in that position through Lap 7. He said that he was hit from behind by Alzen entering Turn 1 midway through the race and finished 10th.
The result in Race No. 1 only added to Saelens' frustration for the weekend. He posted the fastest lap in qualifying for the weekend's second race, but did so during a yellow-flag period. As a result, the race stewards penalized him by also taking away his second-fastest lap, so Saelens will start third, behind Westbrook and Austrian Richard Lietz.
Former Indianapolis 500-Mile Race competitor and 2005 Porsche Michelin Supercup series champion Alessandro Zampedri was involved in a Lap 2 accident with Hannes Neuhauser that brought out the Safety Car for two laps. Both drivers were eliminated from the race.
In Formula BMW USA, Wickens beat Stefano Coletti to the finish line by 1.426 seconds at an average speed of 87.312. Simona de Silvestro, an Italian national who lives in nearby Zionsville, Ind., finished third.
Wickens drives for Terre Haute, Ind.-based Team Apex Racing USA, and was excited to win for the team, describing this as their "hometown race." He competed in both Formula BMW USA events at IMS in 2005 and finished third in the first race last year.
"It was a very nerve-wracking race for me," Wickens said. "I got a great start, was able to get out to a good lead and, not even completing one lap, I saw the Safety Car come out. Then, during the whole Safety Car period, I was trying to strategize a good restart, and I was able to get a pretty good one, but with the slipstream, I almost got overtaken for second. From there, I was able to pull away a nice gap and just try to manage it for the rest of the race."
Also of note was Frankie Muniz, known for his role as Malcolm in the hit FOX comedy "Malcolm in the Middle" and who is competing full-time in the Formula BMW USA series. Muniz drove from the back of the starting grid, in 27th, to finish 16th in his first race at IMS.
"It was awesome," Muniz said. "We were kind of bummed yesterday in our qualifying session with it halfway in the rain, not having communication to know when to switch to dries (tires). We started really bad, but I raced as hard as I could, and it was fun."
The second Formula BMW USA series race of the weekend starts at 9:30 a.m. (ET) Sunday, July 2, with Lee once again on pole. The second Porsche Michelin Supercup race gets underway at 10:25 a.m.
2006 USGP tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 2006 United States Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday, July 2.
Fans can order tickets online at www.indianapolismotorspeedway.com, by calling the IMS ticket office at (317) 492-6700 or (800) 822-INDY outside the Indianapolis area, or at the ticket office at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Parking and camping information also can be obtained through the ticket office.
Hours for phone orders and the ticket office are 8 a.m.-5 p.m. (ET) Monday-Friday, while online orders can be made at any time.
A three-day "Season Pass" for the event is only $60. The pass is good for admission to IMS for all three days of on-track activity, Friday, June 30-Sunday, July 2. All seating Friday and Saturday is general admission, and the pass provides general admission access to the Viewing Mounds, Infield, First Turn Terrace, South Terrace and Tower Terrace (Sections 39-77) on Sunday, July 2.
Reserved seats for Race Day, Sunday, July 2, start at $75.