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IndyCar St Petersburg: Robert Wickens claims pole for debut

Wickens IndyCar St Pete

Robert Wickens claimed pole position for his IndyCar debut at St. Petersburg, taking top spot with the final lap of a drizzly session.

The Canadian was the only driver in the Fast Six to complete his time on the slower black tyre compound, and usurped Will Power in the dying seconds of the session with a lap of 1m01.6643.

Schmidt Peterson's Wickens was one of three rookies to make it into the final part of qualifying, as fellow debutants Matheus Leist and Jordan King placed third and fourth respectively.

Takuma Sato will begin his Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing career from fifth, alongside Ryan Hunter-Reay.

Andretti's Hunter-Reay narrowly missed out on a chance to advance to the Fast Six after taking seventh in the second qualifying session, but was promoted to sixth after team-mate Alexander Rossi had his two fastest times deleted for interference.

Marco Andretti suffered a similar fate to Rossi at the conclusion of the first part of qualifying, allowing Sato into the 12-car shootout.

Wickens' team-mate James Hinchcliffe wound up seventh, ahead of Gabby Chaves and Scott Dixon, while Tony Kanaan completed the top 10.

2016 champion Simon Pagenaud could only manage 11th, having been caught out by the light rain that arrived towards the end of the second qualifying session, spinning at Turn 1 on each of his final three laps. The last of those spins brought out the second of two red flags during qualifying.

The penalised Rossi was classified 12th, ahead of reigning champion Josef Newgarden, who struggled to get up to speed in the first part of qualifying, missing the cut-off by just two tenths of a second.

Last year's St. Petersburg winner Sebastien Bourdais took 14th, ahead of Zach Veach, who led his qualifying group for much of the session, only to miss out on advancing by five hundredths of a second.

Graham Rahal caused the first red flag of qualifying, spinning at Turn 10 towards the end of his session, and is set to start the race from 24th as a result.

Starting grid

1Robert WickensSchmidt Peterson MotorsportsDallara/Honda1m01.6643s-
2Will PowerTeam PenskeDallara/Chevrolet1m01.7346s0.0703s
3Matheus LeistAJ Foyt EnterprisesDallara/Chevrolet1m01.7631s0.0988s
4Jordan KingEd Carpenter RacingDallara/Chevrolet1m01.7633s0.0990s
5Takuma SatoRahal Letterman LaniganDallara/Honda1m01.8821s0.2178s
6Ryan Hunter-ReayAndretti AutosportDallara/Honda1m02.0385s0.3742s
7James HinchcliffeSchmidt Peterson MotorsportsDallara/Honda1m00.9986s-0.6657
8Gabby ChavesHarding RacingDallara/Chevrolet1m01.1191s-0.5452
9Scott DixonChip Ganassi RacingDallara/Honda1m01.6527s-0.0116
10Tony KanaanAJ Foyt EnterprisesDallara/Chevrolet1m01.7213s0.0570s
11Simon PagenaudTeam PenskeDallara/Chevrolet1m04.6739s3.0096s
12Alexander RossiAndretti AutosportDallara/Honda1m07.0377s5.3734s
13Josef NewgardenTeam PenskeDallara/Chevrolet1m00.4320s-1.2323
14Sebastien BourdaisDale Coyne RacingDallara/Honda1m00.9587s-0.7056
15Zach VeachAndretti AutosportDallara/Honda1m00.4585s-1.2058
16Spencer PigotEd Carpenter RacingDallara/Chevrolet1m00.9668s-0.6975
17Ed JonesChip Ganassi RacingDallara/Honda1m00.5009s-1.1634
18Marco AndrettiAndretti HertaDallara/Honda1m01.3013s-0.3630
19Jack HarveyMichael Shank RacingDallara/Honda1m01.0270s-0.6373
20Max ChiltonCarlinDallara/Chevrolet1m01.3360s-0.3283
21Charlie KimballCarlinDallara/Chevrolet1m01.1868s-0.4775
22Zachary ClamanDale Coyne RacingDallara/Honda1m01.8567s0.1924s
23Rene BinderJuncos RacingDallara/Chevrolet1m01.7003s0.0360s
24Graham RahalRahal Letterman LaniganDallara/Honda1m04.0990s2.4347s

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