Points leader Wickens doubles up in San Jose qualifying San Jose, Calif. - July 29, 2006-- Following the exclusion of fastest qualifier Sebastian Saavedra's (Gelles Racing) car in post-qualifying technical inspection, Championship points leader...
Points leader Wickens doubles up in San Jose qualifying
San Jose, Calif. - July 29, 2006-- Following the exclusion of fastest qualifier Sebastian Saavedra's (Gelles Racing) car in post-qualifying technical inspection, Championship points leader Robert Wickens (EuroInternational) moved up to start on pole of the 26-car Formula BMW USA Round 9 field. Wickens first pole of the season comes after four consecutive outside-pole starts. Saavedra, the Rookie points leader, will start 24th followed by Autotecnica teammates Matt Lee (who had qualified third) and Robert Thorne (who had set the eighth fastest time) whose cars were also found not to be in compliance.
Capitalizing on their move in the top-five in the last few laps of yesterday's 30- minute session, Tom Sutherland (Jensen Motorsport) and Reed Stevens (HBR Motorsport Team USA) will start second and third respectively.
The tight confines of the 1.443 mile, 7-turn circuit on the streets surrounding the San Jose Convention Center proved to be difficult for quite a few of the young Formula BMW USA drivers. The session was red-flagged at the mid-way point when Philip Major (Atlantic Racing Team) found the tire wall and had to be removed from the track. After the restart in the 18th minute the chase for the pole began in earnest with Saavedra, Wickens, Lee, Daniel Morad (AIM Autosport) and Race Johnson (HBR Motorsport Team USA) at the top of the time sheets. Stevens and Sutherland joined the close fight for the top starting positions in the last minutes as Morad and Johnson fell back to fourth and fifth respectively. For Johnson and Scott Schroeder (American Spirit Grand Prix), who qualified sixth, this is the best qualifying result of the season to-date. The top-14 qualifiers are within one second of Wickens' pole time ensuring a tight Round 9 contest.
In the last few seconds of the session four cars crashed into each other. David Rangel (Haberfeld & Walker Racing) went into the tire wall in turn 6 and Johnson, Lee and Jordan Dick (Team Apex Racing USA) were not able to avoid him. Rangel sustained enough damage which resulted in the car being withdrawn from the remaining sessions this weekend.
The fastest Rookies in Round 9 qualifying were Daniel Morad (P4), David Garza (P7), Jordan Dick (P10), Maxime Pelletier (P11) and Joel Jackson (P15).
In this morning's Round 10 qualifying session Wickens was the first driver in the 1:02 minute bracket and stayed at the top of the time sheets, setting the fastest lap on his 20th lap. His time of 1:02.522 minutes established a new qualifying record. Matt Lee recovered from the disappointment of his exclusion after Round 9 qualifying to take the outside pole. Simona de Silvestro (EuroInternational) qualified third. Daniel Morad (AIM Autosport) backed up his performance yesterday as the top-qualifying Rookie taking the fourth starting position. Reed Stevens (HBR Motorsport Team USA) rounded out the top-five qualifiers. Robert Thorne (Team Autotecnica), excluded from Round 9 qualifying, will start sixth, his best qualifying performance of the year. The top-17 set times within one second of the pole time what will ensure an exciting Round 10 race tomorrow.
The fastest Rookies in Round 10 qualifying were Morad (P4), Thorne (P6), Saavedra (P7), David Garza (P12) and Maxime Pelletier (P14).
"The two additional championship points for the pole are a big bonus as now I have a 15 point lead in the championship," said a delighted Wickens, who also led yesterday's one hour practice session. "In the race today I do not need to focus on Matt Lee who will start from the rear of the grid so I think I will be able to extend my lead even further. Tomorrow's race will be the more difficult of the two as Matt and Simona will start right behind me. I will try to win both days." He added, "I love the street course here in San Jose. I like the bumps and I like the walls being close. Going as close to the wall as you can to get an extra hundred of a second that really means a lot."
Lee said, "Today I am starting 25th and tomorrow second so today I will try to keep it really safe and bring home the car in one piece. Tomorrow I am starting on front so that will be a good race. Yesterday I was very disappointed with the exclusion because it might take me out of the championship. Hopefully, I can work around this tomorrow and win the race."
De Silvestro said, "Yesterday I had a problem with one of my rear tires and I was not able to get a good lap time. Today I scored the third position in qualifying and that is really good for the championship and the race tomorrow. My new teammate Robert (Wickens) and I both want to win the championship so I will try to beat him tomorrow. The track here is cool. It is my first time on a street course. It is a little bit bumpy, but also a lot of fun."
The Round 9 race is scheduled to start at 1:00 p.m. today and the Round 10 contest is scheduled to start at 3:50 p.m. Sunday.
<pre> Qualifying: Round 9 1 Robert Wickens EuroInternational 1:03.208 (82.186 mph) 2 Tom Sutherland Jensen Motorsport 1:03.431 3 Reed Stevens HBR Motorsport Team USA 1:03.439 4 Daniel Morad (R) AIM Autosport 1:03.464 5 Race Johnson HBR Motorsport Team USA 1:03.652 6 Scott Schroeder American Spirit Grand Prix 1:03.720 7 David Garza (R) EuroInternational 1:03.736 8 Ryan Campbell Gelles Racing 1:03.803 9 Yannick Hofman HBR Motorsport Team USA 1:03.900 10 Jordan Dick (R) Team Apex Racing USA 1:03.907 11 Maxime Pelletier (R) Gelles Racing 1:03.989 12 Simona de Silvestro EuroInternational 1:04.080 13 Ryan Phinny Hearn Motorsports 1:04.148 14 Adrien Herberts Gelles Racing 1:04.196 15 Joel Jackson (R) Gelles Racing 1:04.514 16 Steven Guerrero (R) HBR Motorsport Team USA 1:04.571 17 Frankie Muniz Jensen Motorsport 1:04.586 18 John Zartarian Gelles Racing 1:04.649 19 David Rangel Haberfeld & Walker Racing 1:04.853 20 Marco Santos Haberfeld & Walker Racing 1:04.878 21 Jules Duc Hearn Motorsports 1:04.993 22 Doug Boyer AIM Autosport 1:05.009 23 Philip Major Atlantic Racing Team 1:05.184 24 Sebastian Saavedra (R) Gelles Racing Excluded* 25 Matt Lee Team Autotecnica Excluded** 26 Robert Thorne (R) Team Autotecnica Excluded***
* Excluded for violation of 5.5.1 (minimum weight) ** Excluded for violation of 5.4.1 (added "--material--") *** Excluded for violation of 5.4.1 (added "--material--") and 5.5.1 (Minimum weight)
Qualifying: Round 10 1 Robert Wickens EuroInternational 1:02.522 (83.088 mph) 2 Matt Lee Team Autotecnica 1:02.532 3 Simona de Silvestro EuroInternational 1:02.652 4 Daniel Morad (R) AIM Autosport 1:02.703 5 Reed Stevens HBR Motorsport Team USA 1:02.767 6 Robert Thorne (R) Team Autotecnica 1:02.770 7 Sebastian Saavedra (R) Gelles Racing 1:02.783 8 Race Johnson HBR Motorsport Team USA 1:02.919 9 Ryan Campbell Gelles Racing 1:02.923 10 John Zartarian Gelles Racing 1:02.936 11 Tom Sutherland Jensen Motorsport 1:03.010 12 David Garza (R) EuroInternational 1:03.026 13 Doug Boyer AIM Autosport 1:03.049 14 Maxime Pelletier (R) Gelles Racing 1:03.148 15 Scott Schroeder American Spirit Grand Prix 1:03.199 16 Jordan Dick (R) Team Apex Racing USA 1:03.260 17 Yannick Hofman HBR Motorsport Team USA 1:03.501 18 Frankie Muniz Jensen Motorsport 1:03.686 19 Jules Duc Hearn Motorsports 1:03.708 20 Joel Jackson (R) Gelles Racing 1:03.740 21 Ryan Phinny Hearn Motorsports 1:03.890 22 Marco Santos Haberfeld & Walker Racing 1:04.130 23 Steven Guerrero (R) HBR Motorsport Team USA 1:04.498 24 Adrien Herberts Gelles Racing 1:05.362 25 Philip Major Atlantic Racing Team 1:05.952