van der Garde elated after making Q2

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Qualifying 15th may not usually be a reason to celebrate, but Giedo van der Garde is delighted to be starting so highly for tomorrow’s Monaco Grand Prix after a fine performance in today’s session.

van der Garde has struggled to make much of an impact on the sport during his first five races, but the adverse weather conditions allowed him to make it through to Q2 for the first time.

“I’m obviously very pleased to put my name into the Q2 timesheets for the first time this year and I want to thank Tony, Cyril and the whole team for the jobs everyone did today,” van der Garde said in a team statement. “In Q1 we went out very early as there were reports of more showers coming. As it turned out that wasn’t the case, but we timed the stop well and had about four more quick laps on the inters at the end of Q1, enough time to put myself into Q2.”

Not willing to settle for P16, van der Garde ran well in Q2 to sit as high as 6th at points. However, as the conditions improved, he was slowly bumped down the order to finish 15th.

“Q2 started with a bit more rain, so we again went for the inters, but after one lap I thought it was dry enough for slicks so we boxed, went onto the supersofts and was the first car to make the switch. For a while we were looking at Q3, but that’s not where we are performance-wise yet, so we’re all really happy with Q2.”

The Dutch driver did outqualify the Williams of Pastor Maldonado as well as Force India’s Paul di Resta, Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez and even Ferrari’s Felipe Massa. For the race, van der Garde is unwilling to make any predictions, simply believing that anything could happen.

“Sunday could be very interesting. I start between the two Williams cars of Bottas and Maldonado and I’ve had good starts all year, so hopefully I can have another good launch, avoid anything like the GP2 mess on Friday, and from there anything’s possible.”

NHRA Gatornationals: John Force has another spectacular motor explosion

Photo courtesy NHRA
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Legendary NHRA Funny Car driver John Force endured yet another spectacular motor explosion – his third in the NHRA’s first three national event races – during Friday’s qualifying at the Amalie Motor Oil Gatornationals in Gainesville, Florida.

It’s the kind of consistency the 16-time NHRA Funny Car champ could do without.

The 68-year-old Force came to Gainesville hoping to break the jinx that saw him endure explosions in both the season-opening Winternationals and the second race of the season in Phoenix.

Both motor explosions sent Force to the hospital for examination before he returned to the race track.

Friday, even though the motor in his Chevrolet Camaro blew up again (in the second round of qualifying), at least this time, Force didn’t wind up in the hospital.

He did have his right hand bandaged from a cut suffered in the explosion, but did not have to go to the hospital this time.

He even joked about not having to add yet another ambulance bill to the nearest Gainesville hospital.

But the explosion still proved costly.

“That was another body and that hurts the financial (bottomline),” Force said. “I was out $500,000 to $600,000, and now we are probably out $800,000, going on a million. In drag racing, you have to be tough.”

He ended the day qualifying 14th, not a very comfortable position with two more rounds of qualifying set for Saturday.

Force continues to be mystified why the motors keep exploding.

“I really thought we had it, I thought we were there,” Force said. “In the first round we drove it 500 feet and shut it off. It looked great. We ran it again that run and I was only going to drive it 800 feet even if we didn’t make The Show.”

Force will attempt to improve his qualifying spot during Saturday’s final two rounds to make Sunday’s eliminations.

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