HAMILTON SEVENTH IN FIRST INDY PRO SERIES RACE AT ST PETES New Zealand racing driver Mathew Hamilton has finished seventh in the first of two Indy Pro Series races of the weekend at the St Petersburg street circuit meeting in Florida this...
HAMILTON SEVENTH IN FIRST INDY PRO SERIES RACE AT ST PETES
New Zealand racing driver Mathew Hamilton has finished seventh in the first of two Indy Pro Series races of the weekend at the St Petersburg street circuit meeting in Florida this morning (NZ time).
It was a confidence-boosting result for the 23-year-old from Christchurch, the sole New Zealand representative in the race, after compatriot and defending Indy Pro Series champion Wade Cunningham was forced to sit the meeting out after an emergency appendectomy on Thursday night.
The race, the first of two for the Indy Pro Series at the 'double-header' meeting this weekend, was won by fastest qualifier Raphael Matos in what looks like being a one-off appearance in the series.
The Brazilian dominated practice and qualifying though he didn't quite have the 40 lap race to himself, Jay Howard getting a jump on him and making a successful pass on lap 26 and Indy pro Series Rnd 1 winner Jeff Simmons doing the same - after he had got past Howard - with four laps to go.
A determined Matos was back past Simmons on the next lap however, and crossed the finishing line just over half a second in front of Simmons with Howard 2.5 seconds back in third.
Kiwi Mathew Hamilton, who qualified 11th, had an at times lonely race, though he and Brett Van Blankers engaged in a spirited battle, eventually settled in Hamilton's favour, in the third and fourth quarters of the race.
'We're reasonably happy with seventh," said Hamilton afterwards. "We're still not quite there in terms of set up on the car - it's still got a pretty big push (understeer) - but 40 laps is a long way round here so bringing the car home and in seventh position is good."
The second race of the double-header meeting will be held in the early hours of Monday morning (NZ time) and presents another opportunity for Hamilton to feature.
It will also provide beleaguered compatriot Wade Cunningham a second opportunity to see what life is like on the other side of the pit fence, in this case behind a microphone.
Modern-day surgery techniques mean having your appendix removed is not the three or four-day ordeal it used to be, as the 21-year-old Aucklander proved.
"I was admitted to hospital (St Petersburg's Bayfront Medical Centre) at 2.30pm on Thursday, operated on at 7.30pm and released midday Friday," he said this morning.
So how does he feel?
"Pretty sore...but as far as the doctors were concerned if I was well enough to keep food down I was well enough to leave, so I did! They just said don't overdo it, keep hydrated, stay out of the sun, take your antibiotics and that was about it. In about a week I have a follow up to make sure the wounds are healing properly then I have to wait probably another week and I can start training again."
In typical style Cunningham went straight from the hospital to the track on Friday afternoon and accepted as offer from the course commentary team to be their comments man for the Indy Pro Race on Saturday.
He can't have done a bad job either, because he was invited back to comment on the second of the weekend's two race tomorrow!