Sebastián Saavedra has inherited pole position for Saturday’s inaugural Grand Prix to be staged on the Indianapolis road course. Provisional pole-sitter Ryan Hunter-Reay was docked his fastest two lap times in the final phase of a rain-hit qualifying session, crashing backwards into the wall at the final corner to bring out the red flag.
The result marks the best performance of Saavedra’s IndyCar Series career. The Colombian – whose results over the last three years have promised little – kept it together when it counted and delivered a near-flawless run in qualifying to make it through the preceding knockout stages of qualifying.
Hunter-Reay would have claimed the Verizon P1 Award for himself had he not caught a puddle of standing water at the final corner, which saw him go into a high speed loop followed by a heavy whack against the wall.
His time penalty dropped him to third on the grid, promoting rookie driver Jack Hawksworth to an impressive front-row start in the BHA Honda.
Starting alongside Hunter-Reay will be Simon Pagenaud, who was one of the pacesetters during the dry ‘Group’ running in qualifying as well as in final practice, which was also rain-affected.
Will Power and defending champion Scott Dixon completed the top-six, with six different teams also represented.
The dry-wet conditions caught out a number of drivers, with several more-fancied contenders qualifying poorly. Among those was Michael Andretti, who posted his banker times early on in anticipation of showers hitting the circuit during his qualifying session. The rain never arrived, leaving the frustrated American out of the fastest six runners who made it through to the next phase of the session.
Mikhail Aleshin found himself knocked out of contention for a ‘Round 2’ berth when he had his fastest two lap times docked after being judged to have impeded another driver. The Russian will now start from the rear of the grid, while his misfortune benefited Graham Rahal, who snuck into the top-twelve as a result.
2014 IndyCar Series Grand Prix of Indianapolis – Qualifying:
|‘Fast Six’ Session||Team / Entry||Time|
|1.||Sebastián Saavedra||KV Racing Technology / AFS Racing Honda||1:23.8822|
|2.||Jack Hawksworth||Bryan Herta Autosport Honda||+ 0.1966|
|3.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport Honda||+ 1.0060|
|4.||Simon Pagenaud||Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda||+1.4059|
|5.||Will Power||Team Penske Chevrolet||+ 1.6394|
|6.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||+ 1.7726|
|‘Round 2’ Session||Team / Entry||Time|
|7.||Sébastien Bourdais||KV Racing Technology Honda||1:24.5187|
|8.||Juan Pablo Montoya||Team Penske Chevrolet||1:24.6209|
|9.||Tony Kanaan||Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||1:24.7099|
|10.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske Chevrolet||1:24.8839|
|11.||James Hinchcliffe||Andretti Autosport Honda||1:25.1318|
|12.||Graham Rahal||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda||1:25.4748|
|Group Sessions||Team / Entry||Time|
|13.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport Honda||1:10.2488|
|14.||Ryan Briscoe||Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||1:10.2261|
|15.||Josef Newgarden||Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing Honda||1:10.3601|
|16.||Takuma Sato||A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda||1:10.2804|
|17.||Carlos Huertas||Dale Coyne Racing Honda||1:10.4264|
|18.||Justin Wilson||Dale Coyne Racing Honda||1:10.4141|
|19.||Carlos Muñoz||Andretti Autosport Honda||1:10.5097|
|20.||Martin Plowman||A.J. Foyt Enterprises Honda||1:10.4591|
|21.||Franck Montagny||Andretti Autosport Honda||1:10.5571|
|22.||Oriol Servià||Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing Honda||1:10.5996|
|23.||Charlie Kimball||Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet||1:10.6413|
|24.||Mike Conway||Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet||1:10.6535|
|25.||Mikhail Aleshin||Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda||1:11.2704|
Images via IndyCar Series Media