© Getty Images

Sam Bird takes third Formula E pole of season in Paris

Leave a comment

PARIS – Sam Bird took his third pole position of the 2015-2016 FIA Formula E season for the inaugural Paris ePrix thanks to a stunning final lap in qualifying on Saturday.

Bird led the group qualifying session to secure a place in the five-way Super Pole shootout, where an aggressive lap gave him pole by three-tenths of a second from championship leader Lucas di Grassi.

Pole for Bird was particularly poignant given that Paris is the home of DS, who linked up with Virgin Racing ahead of season two and have now taken three pole positions.

Di Grassi had been on provisional pole before Bird’s run, but will have to start Saturday’s race from second on the grid. However, his chances of extending his championship lead were given a boost as title rival Sebastien Buemi qualified way down in eighth place.

Jean-Eric Vergne underpinned Bird’s pace in the second DS Virgin car by qualifying third, his best result of the season so far, while Stephane Sarrazin and Nico Prost made it a trio of Frenchman starting in the top five.

Robin Frijns led Andretti’s charge by qualifying sixth, narrowly missing out on a slot in the Super Pole shootout. NEXTEV TCR enjoyed its best qualifying of the season so far as Oliver Turvey and Nelson Piquet Jr. finished seventh and ninth respectively, split by Buemi on the grid.

Simona de Silvestro finished down in 12th place for Andretti, while Ma Qinghua ended up 15th in his first Formula E qualifying despite nearly crashing twice at the end of his hot lap.

Ex-IndyCar racer Mike Conway was unfortunate not to qualify higher after getting tangled up with Mahindra’s Nick Heidfeld in Q1, leaving their teams with repair work to complete ahead of the race later this afternoon. The pair will start from the final row of the grid.

Female racer makes history with record finishes in dirt national midget events

Photo courtesy Toyota Racing
1 Comment

Holly Shelton is riding high after setting a milestone for a female driver in a national midget series feature event on dirt this past weekend.

The Sacramento, California-area resident recorded the highest finish ever for a female dirt national midget series driver with a runner-up finish last Friday at the POWRi Lucas Oil National Midget League double-header weekend at Valley Speedway in Grain Valley, Missouri.

Shelton broke her own national record for top finish by a woman in a national dirt event – she finished third in a USAC race at Lawrenceburg, Indiana, last year.

One night after setting her new national record, Shelton and her Keith Kunz Motorsports Toyota roared back Saturday to finish third (started on the outside pole) in the second half of the weekend double-header, making her the first female dirt driver ever on the national midget circuit to earn back-to-back podium finishes.

“It’s cool making history as a female, but my number one thing is I just want to win,” said Shelton, who will be graduating from Cal-State Sacramento with a B.A. in Criminal Justice this fall. “Truthfully, on the track I don’t even remember that I’m a girl. I’m just racing all the guys with the same goal they have – to win.”

Only one other woman has finished second in either a USAC or POWRi midget feature – Sarah McCune at Winchester (Ind.) Speedway in 1999 – but that was on pavement, not dirt.

The record-setting weekend was great consolation for Shelton, who missed three races earlier this season due to surgery and then sat out three other races last month after suffering a race-related concussion.

“It felt good,” she said of her back-to-back podium finishes. “It builds up my confidence. The car is fast and we keep getting better and we want to build on it.”

Shelton was one of four women that competed in midget competition this weekend. The others were 19-year-old Maria Cofer and 16-year-olds Holley Hollan and Presley Truedson.

“It’s awesome seeing all the little girls come up to me excited to see me at the track,” Shelton said. “Hopefully, it encourages them to pursue their dreams as well and, as the years go on, more girls will get into it.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski