Power takes yet another pole
|By Matt Beer||Saturday, April 30th 2011, 19:20 GMT|
Will Power stretched his run of IndyCar pole positions to four in a row in Sao Paulo as he remained unbeaten in 2011 qualifying sessions.
Following on from his poles in St Petersburg, at Barber and in Long Beach, the Penske driver was again unstoppable on a Saturday afternoon in Brazil, as he led both of his first two sections of qualifying then blasted to the top spot in the 'fast six' pole shoot-out.
Power's time of 1m21.896s put him four tenths of a second clear of his rivals. But it was very close behind him, with just 0.09s covering Ryan Hunter-Reay (Andretti Autosport), Scott Dixon (Ganassi) and Ryan Briscoe (Penske) in second to fourth places.
Graham Rahal's so-far difficult 2011 season looks like it could start improving in Brazil, with the American reaching the pole session for the first time this year and grabbing fifth on the grid for Ganassi's new second team. He shares row three with reigning champion and fellow Ganassi man Dario Franchitti.
None of the Brazilian contingent made it into the top six, with Helio Castroneves the best of the local heroes in seventh in Penske's third car.
Justin Wilson (Dreyer & Reinbold) recovered from a disappointing final practice session to make it up to eighth on the grid, just ahead of Andretti Autosport's Long Beach winner Mike Conway and KV's top driver Takuma Sato.
Circuit debutants James Hinchcliffe (Newman/Haas) and Sebastien Bourdais fill row six - as the four-time Champ Car champion produced his best form since returning to America with Dale Coyne Racing.
Of those who failed to make it past the initial group stages, the big surprise was that KV Racing's Tony Kanaan was only eighth in his session, which translated to 15th on the grid. The Brazilian had been quickest early on but was pushed down the order and could not improve sufficiently with his last lap.
Simona de Silvestro's early departure was also a surprise given her second place in final practice. The HVM driver was edged out of the top six in group one by Hinchcliffe's late jump up the order.
Last year's front row man Alex Tagliani will start only 20th for Sam Schmidt Motorsports this time, while 2010 Sao Paulo podium finisher Vitor Meira was half a tenth shy of getting beyond the group stage and will start between de Silvestro and Kanaan in 14th.
KV's EJ Viso could not take part in qualifying following his practice crash, which was caused by a brake issue. He will start last.
Pos Driver Team Time Gap 1. Will Power Penske 1m21.8958s 2. Ryan Hunter-Reay Andretti 1m22.2975s + 0.4017s 3. Scott Dixon Ganassi 1m22.3620s + 0.4662s 4. Ryan Briscoe Penske 1m22.3937s + 0.4979s 5. Graham Rahal Ganassi 1m22.4970s + 0.6012s 6. Dario Franchitti Ganassi 1m22.6103s + 0.7145s 7. Helio Castroneves Penske 1m22.6283s (Round 2) 8. Justin Wilson Dreyer & Reinbold 1m22.6471s (Round 2) 9. Mike Conway Andretti 1m22.6986s (Round 2) 10. Takuma Sato KV 1m22.7379s (Round 2) 11. James Hinchcliffe Newman/Haas 1m22.8450s (Round 2) 12. Sebastien Bourdais Dale Coyne 1m22.9084s (Round 2) 13. Simona de Silvestro HVM 1m23.6807s (Group 1) 14. Vitor Meira Foyt 1m23.3196s (Group 2) 15. Tony Kanaan KV 1m23.6838s (Group 1) 16. Oriol Servia Newman/Haas 1m23.4015s (Group 2) 17. Marco Andretti Andretti 1m23.7682s (Group 1) 18. Charlie Kimball Ganassi 1m23.7126s (Group 2) 19. Danica Patrick Andretti 1m24.0967s (Group 1) 20. Alex Tagliani Sam Schmidt 1m23.7801s (Group 2) 21. Raphael Matos AFS 1m24.1890s (Group 1) 22. JR Hildebrand Panther 1m23.8443s (Group 2) 23. Sebastian Saavedra Conquest 1m24.2963s (Group 1) 24. James Jakes Dale Coyne 1m23.8482s (Group 2) 25. Ana Beatriz Dreyer & Reinbold 1m24.8246s (Group 1) 26. EJ Viso KV (Group 2)