Mercedes protege Wickens secures popular first DTM win this weekend

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Formula One, is, for the moment, devoid of Canadian drivers. There hasn’t been one since Jacques Villeneuve’s departure midway through 2006. One who was on the doorstep a couple years ago with Marussia and probably deserves further consideration in the years to come is 24-year-old Robert Wickens, who took home his first DTM victory over the weekend.

“I’m overwhelmed with the kind words from all of you. Thank you for making this moment extra special! Thank you so much! Vielen Dank jeder!” Wickens tweeted Monday.

Wickens, a star in American open-wheel racing for a number of years, has since moved to Europe and has won the World Series by Renault championship in 2011. He shifted to DTM with Mercedes in 2012.

A column by Canadian reporter Jeff Pappone in the Toronto Globe and Mail described Wickens’ charge Sunday at the Nurburgring. Wickens needed to rely on guile and perform a number of spectacular passes on a track that shifted from full wet to full dry conditions.

Earlier in 2013, Wickens had been promoted to a win at the Norisring following Mattias Ekstrom’s exclusion. A later ruling from the German motorsport federation determined Ekstrom’s exclusion would stand, but everyone from second on back would be classified in their original positions. That left Wickens in an odd situation of having been classified as the first finisher, but not race winner.

Still, this one stuck, and serves notice of his potential and ability level as yet another single-seater driver having some success in tin-tops.

Below is an intro to Wickens via his sponsor Stihl, done at the start of the season.

Sage Karam, Tony Kanaan fastest in Monday’s practice for Indy 500

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In the second-to-last practice session of the week, Sage Karam paced the 33 drivers qualified for Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 on Monday.

Karam had a field-best speed of 226.461 mph, followed by Tony Kanan (225.123 mph), Ryan Hunter-Reay (224.820), Charlie Kimball (224.582) and Alexander Rossi (224.507).

Sixth through 10th fastest were Will Power (224.445), Helio Castroneves (224.368), Marco Andretti (224.148) and rookie Zachary Claman Demelo (224.91) and Scott Dixon (223.966).

Power and Castroneves ran the most laps of all drivers at 120 and 118, respectively.

Two other Team Penske drivers struggled to get speed out of their cars. Defending Verizon IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden was 28th-fastest (221.982 mph) and Simon Pagenaud, who was the slowest (220.902 mph) of the 33 cars on-track.

Pole sitter Ed Carpenter was 14th-fastest with a best speed of 223.573 mph in a 100-lap effort.

Most drivers were in race trim or were testing things for Sunday’s Greatest Spectacle In Racing such as fuel mileage, chassis setup and more.

Rookie Matheus Leist missed most of the session with an apparent electrical problem that kept him to just 19 laps.

There was one incident of note during the 3 ½ hour session: IndyCar rookie Robert Wickens crashed coming out of Turn 2 during the first hour of practice.

Wickens appeared to skim the outside SAFER Barrier, went left and then violently turned hard back into the outside retaining wall.

MORE: Wickens wrecks during Indy 500 practice

The Honda-powered machine for the Canadian driver suffered heavy damage to the right side, particularly the right front tire and the right side of the front end.

There will be no further on-track activity for the Indy cars until Friday’s final practice to fine tune things for Sunday’s 102nd Running of the Indianapolis 500.

We’ll have the full practice speed chart, as well as What Drivers Said, shortly. Please check back soon.

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