Honestly, can anyone stop the Will Power juggernaut? The Australian has managed to take his Penske entry to yet another IndyCar pole position to continue his unbeaten qualifying streak in 2011, this time doing the honours on the São Paulo street circuit ahead of Sunday’s second running of the Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300.
Power has clinched pole position at St Petersburg, Barber Motorsports Park and Long Beach, and he was again the benchmark for the rest of the grid, going quickest in every qualifying session until cruising to pole with a lap that was some 0.4 seconds faster than any of his other five rivals in the ‘Fast Six’ shootout.
And while it was a case of ‘Power first, daylight second’, the gap covering his other ‘Fast Six’ rivals was much closer, with just nine-hundredths of a second covering Ryan Hunter-Reay, Scott Dixon and Power’s Penske team-mate Ryan Briscoe from second to fourth places.
Graham Rahal’s troubled season to-date looks as though it may turn a corner in Brazil, with the Ganassi driver making his first ‘Fast Six’ shootout of the season. He will start from fifth place alongside Ganassi team-mate and defending champion Dario Franchitti.
Disappointingly for the parochial home crowd – which may enjoy a second race in the country from 2012, according to recent reports – not one of the grid’s five Brazilians made the final qualifying round, with Hélio Castroneves (Penske) just missing the cut with the seventh-quickest time in the second round of qualifying. Vitor Meira (Foyt) and Tony Kanaan (KV Racing) will start from the midfield, while Ana Beatriz (D&R) – still nursing a broken wrist – was slowest in her qualifying group.
Behind Castroneves, the top-ten was completed by Justin Wilson (D&R), Long beach race-winner Mike Conway (Andretti) and former F1 driver Takuma Sato (KV), who made his first top-ten appearance in 2011.
Circuit rookies James Hinchliffe (Newman/Haas) and Sébastien Bourdais (Dale Coyne) are starting from the sixth row, with the latter giving his best performance in 2011 on his return to the American racing scene.
A few surprise poor performers were Simona di Silvestro and Oriol Servià, who both qualified well down the order despite their recent form.
KV Racing’s EJ Viso did not take part in qualifying after a practice accident caused by a brake failure. He will start the race from last position.
2011 Itaipava São Paulo Indy 300 Qualifying Results:
|1.||Will Power||Team Penske||1:21.8958|
|2.||Ryan Hunter-Reay||Andretti Autosport||1:22.2975||+ 0.4017|
|3.||Scott Dixon||Chip Ganassi||1:22.3620||+ 0.4662|
|4.||Ryan Briscoe||Team Penske||1:22.3937||+ 0.4979|
|5.||Graham Rahal||Chip Ganassi||1:22.4970||+ 0.6012|
|6.||Dario Franchitti||Chip Ganassi||1:22.6103||+ 0.7145|
|7.||Hélio Castroneves||Team Penske||1:22.6283||(Round 2)|
|8.||Justin Wilson||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||1:22.6471||(Round 2)|
|9.||Mike Conway||Andretti Autosport||1:22.6986||(Round 2)|
|10.||Takuma Sato||KV Racing Technology Lotus||1:22.7379||(Round 2)|
|11.||James Hinchcliffe||Newman/Haas Racing||1:22.8450||(Round 2)|
|12.||Sébastien Bourdais||Dale Coyne Racing||1:22.9084||(Round 2)|
|13.||Simona di Silvestro||HVM Racing||1:23.6807||(Group 1)|
|14.||Vitor Meira||AJ Foyt Enterprises||1:23.3196||(Group 2)|
|15.||Tony Kanaan||KV Racing Technology Lotus||1:23.6838||(Group 1)|
|16.||Oriol Servià||Newman/Haas Racing||1:23.4015||(Group 2)|
|17.||Marco Andretti||Andretti Autosport||1:23.7682||(Group 1)|
|18.||Charlie Kimball||Novo Nordisk Chip Ganassi||1:23.7126||(Group 2)|
|19.||Danica Patrick||Andretti Autosport||1:24.0967||(Group 1)|
|20.||Alex Tagliani||Sam Schmidt Motorsports||1:23.7801||(Group 2)|
|21.||Raphael Matos||AFS Racing||1:24.1890||(Group 1)|
|22.||JR Hildebrand||Panther Racing||1:23.8443||(Group 2)|
|23.||Sebastian Saavedra||Conquest Racing||1:24.2963||(Group 1)|
|24.||James Jakes||Dale Coyne Racing||1:23.8482||(Group 2)|
|25.||Ana Beatriz||Dreyer & Reinbold Racing||1:24.8246||(Group 1)|
|26.||EJ Viso||KV Racing Technology Lotus||no time||(Group 2)|
[Images via IZOD IndyCar Series]