RAHAL WINS POLE FOR INDY PRO SERIES RACE AT U.S. GRAND PRIX Westbrook, Lee will start first in Porsche Supercup, Formula BMW events, respectively INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, June 30, 2006 -- Graham Rahal, the 17-year-old son of 1986 Indianapolis 500...
RAHAL WINS POLE FOR INDY PRO SERIES RACE AT U.S. GRAND PRIX
Westbrook, Lee will start first in Porsche Supercup, Formula BMW events, respectively
INDIANAPOLIS, Friday, June 30, 2006 -- Graham Rahal, the 17-year-old son of 1986 Indianapolis 500 winner Bobby Rahal, earned the pole position June 30 for the Liberty Challenge, in his Indy Pro Series debut at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
The 25-lap race is scheduled for 2:40 p.m. (ET) Saturday, July 1.
Richard Westbrook will start on the pole of the first Porsche Michelin Supercup series event and Formula BMW USA driver Matt Lee will start first in that series' first race.
Not only was this Rahal's debut in an Indy Pro Series car, but it was only the second time Rahal has competed at the 13-turn, 2.605-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. He drove in the Formula BMW USA series on USGP weekend in 2004.
Rahal will be the youngest starter in the history of the Indy Racing League when he takes the green flag for the 25-lap event. His pole-winning qualifying run was 1 minute, 25.5810 seconds, 109.580 mph in the No. 42 Kenn Hardley Racing entry.
"It's just a (practice), and here we are and the team has done a great job," said Rahal, who is the sixth driver to win the pole in his/her Indy Pro Series debut. "We're struggling quite a bit with the setup but that could be a lot of track, and for me, it could just be the way the car is. I haven't had that much time in it. Certainly, we're working hard this evening. We hope to get a better car for tomorrow. If we can take off in the beginning and fight at the end, that's the best way to go at it."
Alex Lloyd, driver of the No. 26 Automatic Fire Sprinklers, Inc., entry, will start second and Raphael Matos will start third. Lloyd also started second on the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., and on the road course at Watkins Glen, while Matos won both races at St. Petersburg.
Porsche Michelin Supercup first practice and the Formula BMW USA qualifying sessions were made even more interesting due to heavy rain showers, which arrived at IMS at approximately 3:15 p.m. Supercup practice was conducted in heavy rain and Formula BMW qualifying took place immediately after, in wet conditions initially, until the sun came out and dried the track during the second half of the session.
Westbrook, from London, took the Porsche Michelin Supercup series pole in the No. 17 Racing Team Morellato entry with a lap of 1:34.958, 98.755. Westbrook is the series points leader, but he will face strong competition from second-place qualifier David Saelens, who swept both the Supercup series rounds at the United States Grand Prix in 2005.
Saelens, turned a fast lap of 1:35.105, 98.603 in the No. 3 Kadach Racing Team entry. Uwe Alzen starts third in the No. 5 PZ-Koblenz -- Team SPS with a lap of 1:35.645, 98.046.
"It was really good; it was tricky because the practice was wet," Westbrook said. "You really have to work out your braking points quickly because you have no data from practice, but the guys gave me a great car. I couldn't believe the lap time when I looked down on the dash.
Lee, from Syosset, N.Y., earned the pole for the first Formula BMW USA race with a lap of 1:38.981, 94.742 in his No. 44 Autotechnica team entry. Robert Wickens, who posted a lap of 1:39.042, 94.683 for Team Apex Racing USA in the No. 66 car, will start second on the grid. Simona de Silvestro, an Italian national who resides in nearby Zionsville, Ind., will start third in her No. 50 EuroInternational team entry after qualifying at 1:40.027, 93.751.
"It was kind of a complicated qualifying, both dry and wet sessions," Lee said. "We went out first with wet tires, and we were doing pretty well, running about fifth. Then we decided it was time to switch to dry tires. We went out there and really pushed it and I managed to come out pole."
The Porsche drivers will take the green flag for the first of two 16-lap races this weekend at 3:40 p.m. July 1, and the Formula BMW USA race No. 1 will follow at 4:40 p.m. The two series will race for a second time Sunday morning, July 2, before the United States Grand Prix.
2006 USGP tickets: Tickets are on sale for the 2006 United States Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday, July 2.