BITTERSWEET WEEKEND FOR HINCHCLIFFE AT ROAD ATLANTA "Trouble in qualifying forces Hinchcliffe to come from mid-pack" Oakville, Ontario -- April 18, 2005. -- 18-year-old open wheel star James Hinchcliffe (Noco Racing , Mobile 1, Pit Fit ...
BITTERSWEET WEEKEND FOR HINCHCLIFFE AT ROAD ATLANTA
"Trouble in qualifying forces Hinchcliffe to come from mid-pack"
Oakville, Ontario -- April 18, 2005. -- 18-year-old open wheel star James Hinchcliffe (Noco Racing , Mobile 1, Pit Fit Training, AIM Autosport #98), had a tough event this past weekend at the Star Mazda series presented by Goodyear at the Road Atlanta race course. After a very good test day that saw Hinchcliffe near the top of the charts, qualifying did not go as planned as the Canadian was mired back in 13th place.
Friday's final practice saw Hinchcliffe and his AIM Autosport squad mount a new set of slicks in preparation for qualifying. As Hinchcliffe left the pits his car was side swiped by another competitor who was spinning off the track in corner one. The ride side of Hinchcliffe's car was heavily damaged and his day was over.
After a long night of rebuilding, the AIM Autosport crew had Hinchcliffe's Pro Mazda back on track for Saturday morning's qualifying session. With new suspension parts, an ill handling car and a bad coil in the motor, the talented Canadian was able to muscle his car around Road Atlanta to claim the 13th starting position.
"We were pretty disappointed after qualifying and with the motor trouble, I was not getting down the straight like I needed to." explained Hinchcliffe. "We reset the new suspension, adjusted the corner weights and made a few more minor changes for the race and it seemed to work pretty well."
On the first lap, Hinchcliffe fell back to 15th as he was patiently waiting for the field to settle. Slight contact with another competitor bent the left front suspension on lap two and the Oakville, Ontario resident was forced to be very careful for the rest of the race. Hinchcliffe progressively moved forward throughout the event, closing a six second gap on Grahame Rahal, eventually finishing in the 8th position.
"From lap two on, the car wanted to drive straight off the track on the entry of every corner. Then the car would gain grip and snap around causing me to almost spin out on several occasions. I don't think that we had the car for the win today but if the weekend had gone a little smoother, there is no doubt in my mind that we would have been on the podium. After I got used to the way the car was going to react, we were as fast as the leaders at the end of the race. There was defiantly more drama than I would have liked this weekend, but for us to come back and still grab 8th is a true testament to how good the whole AIM Autosport crew is."
Hinchcliffe currently sits 6th in the overall series championship and will look to move forward at the next event. The Canadian driver also sits 3rd in the Rookie-of-the-Year honors.
In other news, Hinchcliffe recently competed in his first Grand Am Cup event at Fontana Speedway. James teamed with driver and friend Billy Johnson as the duo finished 9th in the Speed Source Mazda RX8. Another event is scheduled for later on in the year and an announcement will be forthcoming.
Hinchcliffe's next on track activity will be May 10th as he will test the Pro Mazda at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car course in preparation for the May 20-22 event.