Two Laps on Slicks Are All Lee Needs For Two Pole Positions Friday at IMS In Formula BMW USA Action INDIANAPOLIS, June 30 - Matt Lee of Syosset, N.Y. earned the pole position for both Saturday and Sunday's 14-lap Formula BMW USA races at the ...
Two Laps on Slicks Are All Lee Needs For Two Pole Positions Friday at IMS In Formula BMW USA Action
INDIANAPOLIS, June 30 - Matt Lee of Syosset, N.Y. earned the pole position for both Saturday and Sunday's 14-lap Formula BMW USA races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway during a qualifying session at the famed speedway Friday afternoon.
The 16-year-old Team Autotecnica driver will start first in Saturday's race at 4:40 p.m. and Sunday's race at 9:30 a.m. Both events on IMS's 2.605-mile road course support the United States Grand Prix.
The qualifying session was extremely dramatic for Lee, whose fastest lap in the morning practice session was just 15th-fastest in the field of 29. That session was held in dry conditions, but due to an afternoon shower the track was wet for the start of the 30-minute qualifying session Friday afternoon.
Lee and his Twin tooth Racing teammate, Robert Thorne of Sherman, Conn., were first and second at one point early in the qualifying session while on rain tires, but as the track started to dry some of their rivals pitted and moved ahead of them.
With just a few minutes left in the session, the team brought Lee into the pits for slick tires. He only got two laps at speed with the slick Michelins, clocked at 1:38.981 and 1:39.393, respectively, but they were good enough for both poles.
It was the second and third pole position of the year for Lee, who is tied for the lead in the Formula BMW USA point standings with Robert Wickens, who will start second in both races.
"In the last four minutes of qualifying, we put slicks on," Lee explained. "My fastest lap was my second-to-last one. The last one would have been faster but I got held up in traffic on my last lap.
"The Team Autotecnica crew made a rush effort to get the dry set-up on the car, and it paid off," he elaborated. "The grip level was even better than in practice because of all the rubber the Formula 1 cars put down. We're all on Michelin tires; even the Porsche Supercup cars are on Michelins. The only ones that aren't are the Indy Pro Series cars.
"Wickens was second, and Coletti [Stefano Coletti, who won the last two races last weekend at the Canadian Grand Prix] was seventh."
Lee said he hopes it won't rain on Saturday and Sunday, but no matter what the weather is, he has high hopes.
"Hopefully our races will be in the dry, but no matter what, I think we have a good car," he concluded.
Thorne, who is one of the series' top Rookie of the Year contenders, will start 22nd Saturday and 19th Sunday. Time ran out in the qualifying session before the team could change his car's tires over to slicks.
"At first Matt and I ran together, and I figured I'd try to match my pace with his and maintain the distance between us," explained Thorne, who is also 16. "My lap times improved a lot after that, and before I knew it I was in P1. Then 30 seconds later Matt took that position so I was P2.
"We maintained first and second for four laps or so, but then a lot of the field pitted for slicks, including Matt. Basically my time on wets didn't count for anything after they got on slicks. Time ran out before we could change my car's tires too, but Matt got two laps in on slicks which got him the pole, and I dropped back to 22nd."
Thorne said he's still enjoying the whole Indy experience, however. "It's cool to be here," he noted. "It's exciting to race on the same tracks as the F1 drivers."
"The race track is great," Lee concurred. "Only a few select people get to drive on it, and I am very happy to be here."
Both Lee and Thorne's Autotecnica cars are sponsored in part by Bumper to Bumper, Autoparts Warehouse, the Francis A. Lee Company, Matt-Con Services Corp. and Integrated Structures. Both drivers are also looking for additional marketing partners to join their program.