Felix Rosenqvist looked set to take away a strong result from the third round of the 2016 Indy Lights season this weekend, until his hopes were dashed in contact with a fellow rival that put him out of contention when running third.
Rosenqvist went into the weekend’s races – staged at the undulating Barber Motorsports Park in Alabama – sitting third in the overall standings, and eager to run up front at a track where he went a close second fastest in pre-season testing.
Things, however, would not transpire the way the Swede was hoping. Rosenqvist had his best qualifying time disallowed after being adjudged to have blocked a rival driver, but still lined up in decent positions on the grid for the weekend’s two races, starting both from sixth.
He wasted little time making spectacular progress at the start of Race 1, powering past a full three cars around the outside of the sweeping Turn 2 to snatch third place just seconds into the event. A few laps later, however, he was hit from behind by eventual Race 2 winner Santiago Urrutia, with Rosenqvist’s Belardi Auto Racing machine sent spinning into the gravel trap with a deflated rear tyre.
Rosenqvist eventually made it back to the pits and was able to re-join the action, albeit one lap down, demonstrating what could have been by setting the second fastest lap of the race. He took the chequered flag in 14th place.
In Sunday’s concluding Race 2, Rosenqvist came home in eighth, two positions ahead of team-mate Zach Veach.
“Not what we were hoping for this weekend,” says Felix Rosenqvist. “It’s been pretty tough, and that hit in Race 1 cost us a lot of important points. To be honest, I don’t know what Santiago (Urrutia) was thinking, because there was no way he was going to make that corner. For some reason, we then struggled a bit with the pace in Race 2, and we have some work to do ahead of the next round. Having said that, I am convinced we have got what it takes to fight at the front, and that’s where we will be aiming to return as soon as possible.”
Rosenqvist now drops to seventh in the overall Indy Lights classification, holding second among the rookie drivers. The championship will next regroup at the treasured Indianapolis Motor Speedway on May 12-14, with racing taking place on a revised version of the road course layout used for the 2000-2007 US Formula 1 Grands Prix.
Before then, Felix Rosenqvist will be back on Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup duty in Europe on May 7-8, when round two of the campaign takes place at Brands Hatch in the UK.
Indy Lights | Barber Motorsports Park (Alabama, USA)
1: Santiago Urrutia (URU)
2: Ed Jones (UAE)
3: Dean Stoneman (GBR)
4: RC Enerson (USA)
5: Shelby Blackstock (USA)
8: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE)
1: Ed Jones (UAE)
2: Félix Serrallés (PRI)
3: Zach Veach (USA)
4: Shelby Blackstock (USA)
5: Zachary Claman DeMelo (CAN)
14: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE)
Indy Lights | After 5/18 races
1: Ed Jones (UAE), 108 p.
2: Kyle Kaiser (USA), 102 p.
3: Félix Serrallés (PRI), 94 p.
4: Santiago Urrutia (URU), 89 p.
5: RC Enerson (USA), 82 p.
7: Felix Rosenqvist (SWE), 73 p.